Exercising and lower back pain – Should you workout through the pain?
If you have lower back pain, your doctor may recommend exercise as part of your treatment plan. But what should you do if your workout routine is increasing your lower back pain rather than reducing it? Should you continue working out through the pain or stop?
Soreness vs. Pain
Assess whether what you’re feeling is actually pain. Minor soreness can result from exercise, especially if you’re not used to frequent movement or just getting started on a new fitness regimen.
Soreness is a dull, achy feeling – that can cause your back muscles to feel stiff or tender. It typically only lasts between 24 to 72 hours and is temporary.
Pain is your body’s way of telling you that you’re doing something wrong. Pain that is moderate to severe, lasts for days (or weeks), and hinders your day-to-day performance is something to worry about.
Should you work through the pain?
If a certain exercise is making your lower back pain feel worse, you shouldn’t work through the pain. As mentioned earlier, pain is your body’s way of telling you that something is wrong.
Your pain may be an indicator that:
- You’re performing the exercise incorrectly (and may need more training/instruction on how to do it properly)
- The exercise is not designed for your lower back condition
- You may have another injury that you’re not aware of
When it comes to lower back pain associated with exercise, it’s better to work around the pain than through it. If running makes your back feel worse, try a lower-impact aerobic activity like riding a bike, walking, or hiking instead.
Water therapy is a great option for people struggling with lower back pain. It can help relieve the stress and strain – and can be done in a heated pool for additional pain relief.
Talk to your chiropractor or physical therapist to help find alternatives. Remember: exercise is meant to help with the pain, not add to it.