Protecting Your Spine Before, During & After Exercise
Category: Spine | Author: Stefano Sinicropi | Date: July 5, 2022
Exercise is essential for spine health and total body fitness, but getting regular exercise can be hard if back pain makes movement difficult. Even low-intensity exercise can be great for preventing or treating spine issues, so long as you know how to approach the activity. In today’s blog, we share some tips for protecting your spine before, during and after exercise.
Protecting Your Spine Before Exercise
You want to be smart in your lead up to exercise so that your body is ready for activity and can handle everything you throw at it. With that in mind, consider having a conversation with a spine specialist or your primary care physician about the type of activity that would be helpful for your individual needs. A high-impact activity like running or Crossfit may not be the best for your spine right out of the gates, so start with some easier exercise that your back and body can handle and work your way up to more intense exercise.
Also, always make sure that you take time to stretch before you jump into activity. Stretching for 5-10 minutes can ensure that your muscles, joints and structures that support your spine are ready for the stress you are about to throw at them. These tissues work optimally when they are in an active state, and stretching can help them make this transition from inactive to active.
Protecting Your Spine During Exercise
One of the biggest ways you can protect your spine and reap the benefits of exercise while you’re moving is to ensure you have ideal posture or body positioning. If you’re running with your neck out in front of your body or you’re walking with an uneven stride, some muscles will be working overtime as they handle additional stress. Certain areas can become overloaded with stress if you don’t have ideal posture, so assess your form or ask your doctor or physical therapist to examine your body positioning as you move. Small adjustments can go a long way in protecting your spine while you’re exercising.
Aside from form, be sure to listen to your body when you’re exercising and stop if something doesn’t feel right. If a new pain has developed and it feels like more than just general soreness, shut it down for the day and see how your back feels tomorrow. Trying to push through pain can oftentimes make an injury worse, so listen to your body. Finally, make sure that you slowly ramp up your activity load over time so that you don’t overstrain any areas of your body.
Protecting Your Spine After Exercise
You may be done with your exercise for the day, but that doesn’t mean you are done protecting your spine. Oftentimes it’s helpful to stretch for a couple minutes after exercise to help reduce muscle tension in your back. This stretching also acts as a cool down period for your muscles so that they can more easily recover after a stressful period.
It’s also very important that you hydrate after exercise. You’ll also want to consider hydrating before and during exercise, but by the end of your routine, you’ll have lost some fluids and they’ll need to be replenished, otherwise you’ll be at a greater risk for muscle spasms or cramps. Ensure your body has enough water so that muscles and veins can function properly, which will help protect your spine and your whole body.
If you are mindful of your spine before, during and after exercise, we know that you’ll be putting yourself in the best position to make some positive gains as a result of this activity. And if you want more individualized advice to help with your back issue, reach out to Dr. Sinicropi’s office today at (651) 430-3800.