My hopes to lose the rest of my pregnancy weight and increase my fitness have been dashed again this week. I started doing a little exercise and now my back is in too much pain to do much at all other than function normally around the house.
Incredibly frustrating! I’ve been wondering how I’m ever going to exercise again, as this happens every time I make any intentional effort beyond running around after children each day.
The last time this happened a year ago, a trusted back specialist took a look at my back, and without me having to pass on any of my back history to him, he told me the cause of my ongoing problem. I already suspected the cause: a car accident 14 years ago, untreated whiplash, and now a curved spine that is progressively getting worse.
I would need weekly treatment for about 2 years to straighten me up. Good news that there was hope for me and the problem was fixable. Not so good news that I’d be looking at a small fortune to set me straight.
At present, this is not an option for us as the cost is beyond our current means. I’m hoping one day it will be achievable. In the meantime, I don’t desire to stay unfit and out of shape for any longer, and I need to get moving to keep my body in health.
Reasons for Lower Back Pain
There are a number of reasons for lower back pain, not only a curved spine like mine – your issue might be a pinched nerve, herniated disc, ovarian cysts, excess weight, lack of hydration and/or Vitamin C, weakened back from pregnancy, or a back injury from sports or a physical job, to name a few.
Sometimes a back injury has an underlying problem that only the right professional(s) can work out. Lower back pain doesn’t mean that the core problem is necessarily in your lower back itself. I’ve seen more back specialists in the last 8 years than I can count – and most the time they’ve only seen the part of the problem that they specialise in.
So a bit of trial and error, listening to my body during exercise, and this latest relapse, has told me that what follows are considerations that need to form part of my exercise plan.
There may be things here that will help you also:
Walking – I’ve discovered that I can walk at relative speed as long as there aren’t too many hills, which seem to make my back niggle. To provide a little extra effort, I push my son in his pushchair.
Frequency – I’m better to exercise more frequently, even a couple of times a day, rather than attempt an hour doing anything.
Hydration and Vitamin C – My overall back health is better when I’m properly hydrated and I’m taking in adequate levels of Vitamin C. I’m sure it’s no coincidence that my back seems to get worse at the end of winter, when I haven’t been drinking the same quantity of water than I do in the warmer months. As for Vitamin C, read this article and be amazed (my husband followed the advice in this article and went from lying on the floor with crippling back pain, to being almost completely fine within just 48 hours).
Start gradually – If you’re starting from a point where you haven’t been exercising at all, start very small and listen to your body. Wait a few days before adding in more or increasing frequency or types of exercise. Your back might be able to tolerate some bending at the waist, such as crunches, but it might not tolerate back extensions or even cycling. I’ve found that I don’t know the impact of my exercise until a few days afterwards, even if there is no discomfort at the time. Be patient. This was where it all fell over for me this time – I was in a rush and did too much for my beginner level of fitness and strength.
Short strength training sessions – I found a couple of great workouts on YouTube. Gillian Michaels does a few which are low impact and there is no bouncing around. But she’s also a bit ruthless, so start with the 5m ones, work up to 20m, and leave a few days between her strength training sessions to make sure your back is coping.
Core training – I have to make this area intentional but am starting very small. Because of years of back pain, I have avoided using my lower back almost entirely and now I have no muscle tone there at all. I’m starting with some gentle core exercises lying on my back. If you google ‘core exercises’ you will find plenty of websites to guide you according to your specific situation.
Swimming – Swimming and aqua jogging are a great way of exercising. Breaststroke is a particularly gentle way of improving your fitness while you are managing back issues.
A note On Hope
I’ve found that back pain can be crippling to the body and also to the soul. At times I’ve felt overwhelmed and incredibly discouraged. The best thing I can do during these times is to throw myself at the feet of the Father, who instils hope and peace in my soul. Although there is the physical aspect to healing back pain, I cannot neglect where the true source of my souls contentment lies.
I trust Him to lead me on this journey to healing and strength!
Disclaimer – I’m not a specialist or professional in any way. I’m just passing on my experience. If you have chronic back pain, you probably already have a back specialist you refer to – you might need to have a chat with them before embarking on any exercise program. But have hope that there are things you can do to care for your body in spite of the frustrating and debilitating back pain.
Victoria Boyd is a wife, mother, and follower of Jesus. She is passionate about seeing others equipped to live out their faith in fullness, and to steward well all the Lord has given them. She has a love for the written word, and for worship, justice and compassion issues, family history, raising children and indigenous peoples. Find her writing on homeschooling, faith, homemaking, parenting, and natural living at www.homemakingwithheart.com. Follow Victoria on Pinterest here.
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