Originally published: September 2015
Going to the chiropractor can help relieve pain and prevent injuries, but being active is also a great way to help keep your spine healthy. Just going for a brisk 10 minute walk each day is enough to help improve your health and prevent conditions of the spine, joints and supporting structures of the body. But there are also a few other recreational activities that you can incorporate into your daily routine to prevent back pain and reduce stress.
Here are a few suggestions and why you may benefit from them:
Yoga and Pilates:
Yoga and Pilates are forms of exercise that typically focus on moving the body while focusing on breathing and body awareness. The poses are purposeful and usually work a few areas of the body at once, including the back and leg muscles to build a stronger foundation for other movements. Also, the poses often focus on balance which can be important to prevent falls and injuries as we age. Compared to higher impact activities that cause added strain to the body, Yoga and Pilates are known to be ‘safe’ for healthy and even injured individuals. Yet, with most practices being keenly aware of your body is important and adapting movement to your skill level. However, regular practice has been shown to decrease back pain1. The great thing about Yoga and Pilates is that there are several types of classes catered to your specific skill and comfort level.
Aquafitness is a dynamic, low impact activity that usually involves the entire body in movement, including the abdominals, gluteal, and leg muscles. Since the movements are done in water, the water adds extra resistance to strengthen muscles but also minimizes impact on your joints. Aquafitness has been shown to be an effective management tool for those suffering from certain MSK injuries allowing them to keep active. Notably, people suffering from low back pain2 may particularly benefit from aquafitness or gently swimming in water. Contact your local community centre or gym to see if aquafitness is part of their regular programming.
This Chinese martial art focuses on meditative, deep breathing combined with methodical practice of slow movement enhancing mobility and balance among those who practice the art. Tai Chi is known to have major health benefits – even for those with back pain. Tai Chi can improve pain and function, while decreasing likelihood of chronic pain. It is a safe and effective activity for those experiencing long-term back pain symptoms3.
Other activities you may want to consider are low-impact cardiovascular exercises such as walking or striding on the elliptical machine. There are always alternatives to staying active, even when you experience pain. Some of these can even help relieve the pain.
If you’re looking for ways to stay active and relieve pain, meet with your chiropractor to discuss more options.
1Sherman K, Cherkin D, Wellman R, Cook A, Hawkes R, Delaney K, Deyo R. A Randomized Trial Comparing Yoga, Stretching, and a Self-care Book for Chronic Low Back Pain. Arch Intern Med. 2011 Dec 12; 171(22): 2019–2026. 2Ariyoshi M, Sonoda K, Nagata K, Mashima T, Zenmyo M, Paku C, Takamiya Y, Yoshimatsu H, Hirai Y, Yasunaga H, Akashi H,Imayama H, Shimokobe T, Inoue A, Mutoh Y. Efficacy of aquatic exercises for patients with low-back pain. Kurume Med J. 1999;46(2):91-6. 3Hall AM, Maher CG, Lam P, Ferreira M, Latimer J. Tai chi exercise for treatment of pain and disability in people with persistent low back pain: a randomized controlled trial. Arthritis Care Res (Hoboken). 2011 Nov;63(11):1576-83.