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Author Topic: November 08: When To Do What Exercise  (Read 7402 times)

Steve Lockhart

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November 08: When To Do What Exercise
« on: November 16, 2008, 03:44:11 AM »
So many people that come to see me with chronic back pain answer my questions, “Do you do any regular exercise”? with the reply, “I tried to do some but it just irritated the pain so I stopped.”

Does this sound like you?

The thing is, most exercises on their own will irritate back pain because long term tight or contracted muscles don’t like being put under the sort of pressure that exercise causes. When these muscles are the cause of the back pain it is only natural exercising them will stir them up and make the symptoms worse.

The approach I take in my self treatment program is to use a rubber ball, the SLM Yoga followed by gentle movement exercises to sort the problem muscles out and get them working again, before you try to do any of the more conventional exercise routines. That includes Pilates or weights etc.

One of the points I make is that you need to crawl before you can walk and walk before you run. I class exercises into 4 groups starting with walking, swimming and yoga, moving through to circuit classes, aerobics and power walking, followed by running and weights, then finally sports such as touch football, netball, basketball etc.

Can you see how it steps up from gentle controlled movements to those in the last group where you are running flat out and all things in between and twisting your body in all ways to play the sport? Someone who jumps into the last group of activities before having a good base of strength and fitness is an injury waiting to happen. Even if they don’t end up injuring themselves at the time, they will most likely set themselves up for a future with some sort of chronic pain by putting problems deep into some of their muscles through total overload. Perhaps you can relate to that as a way you could have ended up with your chronic pain.

It is the same when you are trying to fix chronic pain, you have to start slowly until the problem muscles begin to respond before you slowly increase the pressure on them so they won’t shut down. It is very rare that an exercise program alone will fix chronic back pain and if it is successful at taking away the symptoms, it is probably because it has buried the problems deeper into your body and taught other muscles to compensate around them. This solution will only last for so long and eventually the problem will re surface as the same pain or another.

As an example, I had a patient yesterday who came in with a sharp pain in his foot every time he put weight on it. He had seen a podiatrist who had strapped a support to it as a solution but it wasn’t helping. He agreed to let me work on it with some deep massage to some specific muscles. As I was doing so he recalled a similar pain he had 25 years ago in the same foot which a Physio took away with some exercises. He had to continually pick up a towel with his foot and after a while it worked, so he hadn’t thought about it again since. Interestingly enough though he had been seeing me for a chronic back problem he had on the same side of his body for many years. (it came on not long after the foot problem disappeared all those years ago.)

I took the foot pain away by releasing some very tight and sore muscles deep in his foot so it will be interesting to see what affect that has on the back pain over the next few months.

Getting back to the exercises, the lesson here is that you need to work on getting your problem muscles working properly again first then, when you start exercising them, do so slowly with gentle pressure that won’t overload them before you step it up to strength work.

A muscle that has been tight for a long time without good circulation will be weak and will therefore take a bit of time to recover to a level whereby it can carry a load for any length of time.

If you need guidance with doing this my self treatment program is designed to do exactly that but alternatively with some common sense and a skilled therapist to help you it is not all that difficult to work though it yourself.


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