3 Exercises to Avoid Back Pain
An expert in the spine affirms that the most common recommendations to avoid this type of pain do not work, and it reveals those that do work.
Stuart McGill is a professor of spine biomechanics at the University of Waterloo, Canada, and author of “The Mechanic of the Back,” a book that was translated into twelve languages for its worldwide success. Based on more than 400 published studies on the subject, it abounds in advice that is worth taking into account at all ages.
Many people care about the subject: according to epidemiological data, 80% of people suffer back pain at least once in their lives. In this context, the distinctive feature of this book is that it denies that some exercises that are usually advised are good for improving the problem. It is more: it is probable, according to the specialist, that they are harmful. “Many doctors prescribe Pilates, yoga and physical activity to everyone, indiscriminately, but those exercises can in some cases damage and worsen the situation,” he says.
Main Causes of Getting Backpain
“The main cause of the increase in cases is the current lifestyle. We were not created to sit in front of computers for long periods ”
According to McGill, a first rule that we should all know is that there are no general rules. “Not everyone has the same backbone, which can be divided into two categories: thin as a reed, and therefore flexible; or thick and little available to push-ups. In the latter case, pilates and yoga are like pouring naphtha on the fire, “says the expert.
In his book, McGill guides the patient in self-diagnosis to discover which movements cause pain and thus avoid them. “The causes of pain can be many. Carrying a child in your arms, sitting for a long time, making bad movements. We have to learn to move differently, “he proposes.
According to the expert, some of the stretching exercises that all coaches indicate should be avoided. “Do not lean forward to touch your toes. Nor bring your knees to your chest while lying down, “he warns. These two movements give an immediate relief, which can last fifteen minutes, but then worsen the situation.”
According to the expert, it is better not to waste time with therapies that do not treat the cause of pain, such as acupuncture, massage or chiropractic, among others.
An excess of push-ups, torsions and overloads for the spine, such as those in the gyms’ routines, can be harmful. Regarding the abdominals, he argues that we must avoid sit-ups, in which the movement begins when lying down and ends almost sitting. “During this exercise, the load on the back is remarkable,” he says.
Have a Look: Exercises to Improve Posture and Straighten the Back
Types of Exercises
McGill argues that three types of exercises he defines as “non-negotiable.” They should be done every day, and not too early: between noon and dinner. Their importance is that they keep the spine in a neutral position and strengthen the muscles that guarantee stability.
- Curl-up: lie on the floor with your hands behind your back, in the lower back, and raise your head, neck and shoulders a little.
- Side bridge (lateral bridge): stand on your side with your knees bent. To stay, you must rest your forearm on the ground. The exercise is based on lifting the hips to form a straight line from the head to the knees. Hold the position for ten seconds and repeat the movement.
- Bird-dog (bird-dog): you have to get on your knees and lift your right arm and left leg at the same time without bending your back. The arm should not exceed the shoulder line, and the leg should also be aligned.
Another good habit is to walk fast (if pain allows) for three 15-minute intervals per day. And if one should be sitting for long periods it is good to get up regularly, even for a few minutes. “The basic exercise to eliminate any dorsal, lumbar or cervical pain is to walk daily,” he says.
Also Check: Benefits of Pilates: a Great Ally of Health
And in doing so the pain is quickly relieved because “with each step the legs rise and swing in such a way that they produce soft muscular contractions. This prevents the pelvis from sinking and reduces the load on the spine. If the person feels pain in this area, they should gradually increase the pace until it is relieved.”