Exercises to help back pain with a focus on legs and core

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How This Helps

Do you suffer from chronic back pain? Working on both core and leg muscles can help alleviate and eradicate back pain!


Most adults and seniors suffer from some sort of back pain. Back pain is caused by a wide array of things, which can include: getting older, poor physical fitness, being overweight, heredity, injury or disease, bad posture, or smoking.

Exercises for back pain relief

Cumbersome and exhausting, everyone wants an end to back pain, apart from staying away from injury; the best solution for back pain is often an active lifestyle! Our muscles hold our skeleton in place and the root causes of back pain often stem from weakening or damaged muscle. The greatest action to keep muscle nice and strong is exercise! Realistically – back pain usually translates to moving slowly…or not moving at all, but avoidance behavior initiates a cycle of weight gain, worsening joint pain, pain catastrophizing, fear of movement (termed kinesiophobia) and disability.  We shouldn’t avoid movement; we should be avoiding pain, and the only way to make it go away is through physical activity! It can be as easy as going bowling, dancing, golfing, or even just a nice easy stroll around the neighborhood. Now more specifically, the easiest way to begin this process (especially if you currently live a predominantly sedentary lifestyle) is to focus on legs and core! Strengthening both leg and core muscles will ultimately help alleviate back pain and prevent any more pain from creeping in!

Legs & core exercises to help your back pain

First and foremost, one must remember to not stop doing daily activities such as, cooking, cleaning, gardening, shopping, and seeing loved ones. These activities get one up and moving so as not to get stiff. After this, individuals with bad back pain are often told to keep their core strong and tight to strengthen their back to get rid of all pain. Although this is true, the fact is – our core is worked every time we perform any movements athletically. The term core doesn’t only mean our abs, although it is commonly assumed that the two are synonymous. The core is a large set of muscles in our midsection that control movement of our limbs and torso, it just so happens to include the abs, but – the abs are on the outside. Think like this: the core of an apple is the center with which all other parts of the apple attach to; the core is not also the skin (abs)! So, in truth individual suffering from back pain doesn’t necessarily need to do crunches or sit-ups to work their core – in some cases, this can actually be detrimental. Starting with any movement at all such as simply working the legs or arms can create tension in the core and therefore strengthen it!

So: start with your legs. Our backs sit directly on top of our legs, and our back ties directly into our core muscles. Legs muscles and most importantly gluteal muscles (your butt!) hold back muscles in place, and therefore have a lot to do with pain reduction and strength. It is beneficial to both strengthen the core AND your legs. Those with back pain should exercise their legs, but this of course begs the question: what counts as exercise? Moderate exercise is any movement that raises the heart rate, makes one feel warmer, and creates faster breathing. It has been likened to being able to speak, but not being able to sing words to a song. Moderate exercise creates blood flow into muscles and joint cavities, making them less stiff, as well as any sort of resistance against muscles, which creates strength. Now, which exercises are best? Any and all that you can do easily, consistently, and have at least a little fun performing them!

A quick list of popular exercises that focus on legs:

·      Walking

·      Jogging

·      Dancing

·      Golfing

·      Yoga

·      Swimming

·      Bike riding

·      Hiking

·      Exercise classes

·      Weight Training

·      Bowling

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Back pain, whether caused by, injury, wear-and-tear, general tightness from sitting all day, or a whole slew of other causes, makes an individual avoid any movement at all to dull back pain. This creates stiffness and a weakening of muscles that prolong and often worsen back pain. Being active can not only help alleviate pain but also prevent further pain from occurring. The main focus of this activity should focus on the legs. Strengthening our legs also strengthens our core, both muscle groups hold our backs in place. After forcing oneself to keep daily activities in our schedule, we must challenge ourselves to an activity that we enjoy from the list above! Happy exercising! 

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