Exercise is vital to recovery and to maintaining a healthy spine. Consider it part of long-term health management and risk reduction. Regular exercise is the most basic way to combat back and neck problems. However, if you already have an injury or damage to your spine, talk to your doctor or physical therapist (PT) before you start an exercise routine, to make sure the exercises you choose are effective and safe for your particular case.
Why exercise? Scientific studies show that people who exercise regularly have far fewer problems with their spine. Exercise helps strengthen the muscles in your back that connect to your spine. Exercise can reduce your risk of falls and injuries. It can also strengthen your abdomen (your belly), arms, and legs, which reduces back strain. Stretching reduces risk of muscle spasms. In addition, weight bearing exercises help prevent loss of bone mass caused by osteoporosis, reducing your risk of fractures. Aerobic exercise, the type that gets your heart pumping and pulse rate up, has been shown to be a good pain reliever as well. The natural chemicals of the body that combat pain – called endorphins (en-dor-fins) – are released during exercise and actually reduce your pain.
Exercises will help maximize your physical abilities including:
If you decide you want some extra conditioning, always check with your doctor or therapist before beginning a program on your own. It is important that you choose an aerobic activity you enjoy. This will help you stick with it, so you reap the long-term benefits that come with a well-rounded exercise program.