Doing sport with back problems? Is that possible?
Most people avoid sport when they have back problems. However, people with back problems benefit from exercise. Regular sport can even improve and prevent back problems. In some cases – such as an acute hernia – you have to temporarily stop doing sport.
Swimming and water aerobics
A number of sports are good for your back. These sports are good for your condition, but also for building up abdominal and back muscles. For instance swimming. This is the sport for people with back problems. In water people move less, so that there is less strain on the back. The water carries the body and the joints hardly take any strain. Of course it is important to apply the right swimming technique.
Back stroke is ideal because it strengthens the back muscles while the spinal column remains nice and straight during training. Crawl is also recommended provided that the technique is right. Breast stroke and butterfly stroke make the lower back hollow and therefore are less suitable for people that suffer from lower back problems. Water aerobics is a perfect alternative in that case. The water offers resistance during movement, but hardly puts any strain on the joints in the back. With water aerobics you train your muscles and improve your condition in a way that protects your back.
On the bicycle
Cycling is also an ideal sport for people with back problems. It is important that your saddle has the correct height: at hip level. In this way you are cycling with a straight back. Please note that staying in the same position for a long time can cause back problems as well. Therefore go for short rides of approximately 30 minutes. Do you want to do more anyway? Take a break after half an hour. Do some stretching during the break (10 minutes) or walk for a bit.
Put on your walking boots!
Walking is the ultimate sport for people with back problems. Don’t forget to invest in proper walking boots. Would you like it to be a bit more intensive? Go for a walk in the wood.
A hilly landscape is less suitable for people with back problems. Walking downhill puts even more strain on the back because our body leans backwards. The knees have to deal with extra pressure. The result? Even more pressure on the lower vertebrae.
Roller-blading or roller-skating is also a perfect alternative. This sport puts hardly any strain on the back. You are improving your fitness in a fun way and you also strengthen your abdominal and back muscles. A level surface is important. Try the track for instance.
Pilates and yoga
Pilates and yoga are good for your back as well. Just as with many other sports, you have to do the exercises in the right way. Take guidance where possible. The advantage of yoga is that the movements are carried out very deliberately and slowly. Some exercises may be less suitable for people with back problems, but a qualified trainer can always offer a solution.
Running as a sport
Running puts strain on the back, but some people do not experience any problems when they run on a soft surface with special footwear. So go for a run in the woods or on a Finnish trail and avoid running in the street. Various specialised shops will sell the right running shoes. Some sport shops even have a treadmill that scans your feet. Depending on the way your feet roll, you will be suggested the right running shoes.
And the rest?
Lifting weights, rowing, athletics, tennis and skiing are not so suitable for people with back problems. Do you suffer from back pain? This does not mean that you have to stop sport immediately. But you must adjust your sport schedule. Consult a physiotherapist and get supervision by a professional during sport. In this way, you will still improve your fitness level. Moreover, you strengthen your back and neck muscles so that the load bearing capacity of your body increases and the chance of back problems reduces. Finally, sport makes you mentally stronger. And a positive attitude helps you to heal quicker and get rid of your back problems.