Get Moving: Exercising with Chronic Low Back Pain – Part 1
By Dr. Kyla Nelson, DC & Acupuncture Provider
Today we will be focussing on the benefits of aerobic activity for chronic low back pain, followed by musculature strength/core stabilization and flexibility in the coming weeks.
A common misconception when it comes to chronic low back pain is that ALL aerobic activity should be avoided until your back pain is resolved. This is NOT true. In actuality, low to moderate aerobic exercise has been shown to be beneficial for those suffering from low back pain.
Aerobic exercise has the ability to promote increased blood flow and nutrients to the injured muscles, which in turn helps promote the healing process.
Furthermore, it has been shown that aerobic activity promotes the body’s production of a brain chemical, called an endorphin. Endorphins are powerful chemicals that bind to opiate receptors in the brain and spinal cord, which help lower pain perception. Endorphins behave similarly to drugs such as codeine and morphine – therefore we can look at the body’s productions of endorphins as a natural form of painkillers.
Aerobic activity also helps lower the fear of movement. It is common for individuals suffering with low back pain to fear movement, however this has a ripple affect as lack of movement can negatively impact your strength, range of motion and consequently your functional status pertaining to your job and daily activities. By encouraging aerobic exercise, whether it be walking or cycling, an individual can lower their disability, improve their functional status, overall fitness and activities of daily living.
Finally, it’s important to note that exercise therapy should not be prescribed in cookie-cutter fashion. Each individual’s episode of low back pain differs from his or her neighbours, thus you should be provided an exercise program based on your own specific muscular weakness, pain patterns and physical examination findings.
Dr. Kyla Nelson is currently a licensed chiropractor and acupuncture provider at Holland Landing Health Centre in East Gwillimbury, Ontario. If you have any questions concerning chronic low back pain or exercise please contact Holland Landing Health Centre at [email protected] or 905-853-7900.
Gordon, Rebecca, and Saul Bloxham. “A Systematic Review of the Effects of Exercise and Physical Activity on Non-Specific Chronic Low Back Pain.” Healthcare. Vol. 4. No. 2. Multidisciplinary Digital Publishing Institute, 2016.