If you’re on the path to recovery after a back injury, you must complete Phase 1 and take the necessary steps to pace yourself back into a workout regime. Once you’re confident that your body has regained full momentum, make note of these key points before taking on an intense exercise plan.
Poor posture causes physical imbalance, forcing some muscles to work harder than the rest and straining them. Good posture after a back injury allows for efficient movement and reduces the risk of relapse.
“Often, people with ‘slouchy’ posture have lengthened the thoracic erectors, and feel pain between the shoulder blades, down to their pelvis. The first thing these people need to do is stretch their chest. Then they need to engage the posterior muscles to hold themselves upright,” says Sulyn Silbar, founder of NYC-based Body + Mind, a personal training and massage gym.
Sulyn’s method of helping people find their correct posture is called the 3 Triangles, and this is what you need to do:
1) “Stand with your back against a flat wall, feet about 1 foot away from the wall and hips width distance with a slight bend at the knees.
2) Bring your arms up and push them back into the wall so that your shoulder blades are against the wall. Pull in your abs, so that your ribs don’t stick out, and flatten out your pelvis so that the base of your spine is flat against the wall.
3) Slowly lower your arms back down, while maintaining the shoulder blades against the wall. Maintain that posture as you come away from the wall. Then try to relax into it, without letting it all go. This is what your correct posture should be,” she says.
Warm water exercises or taking a warm water bath before exercising can prove beneficial. Warm water increases circulation, relaxes tense muscles, speeds up healing, and eases pain.
Once you’ve sufficiently recovered from the back pain, move on to strengthening exercises. These could include running, rowing, swimming, air squats, push-ups, etc.
1) Class lower back strengthening exercise, as advised by Carol Michaels, a New Jersey-based personal trainer and the creator of Recovery Fitness.
Begin on your hands and knees in a table top position. Make sure your knees are set directly below your hips, and that your wrists, elbows and shoulders are in line with each other, and your head is in a neutral position. Contract your abdominals to maintain your balance while you slowly inhale, and pull one knee in toward your chest and round your spine toward the ceiling. Exhale as you extend your leg directly behind you and release your spine to its neutral position. Hold for 10 seconds and return to table-top position and reverse.
2) Bent knee leg lifts as advised by Drew Vanover, 5th degree Master of Tae Kwon Do and RYT certified yoga teacher.
Lie down with your back flat on the floor, knees bent. Start with single leg lifts to better support the back. Slowly lift one leg until the thigh is vertical and slowly lower it back down. Repeat on the other side. Decreasing the bend in the knee and eventually lifting both legs will add more resistance as the person gets stronger.
Armed with a complete breakdown of the dos and don’ts after a back injury, fitness enthusiasts can get a move on with their training programs, but only after getting clearance from a doctor or specialist, if need be.