Workout trends come and go, and today’s hot fat-blasting bonanza is tomorrow’s Jazzercise. But for those who are dealing with chronic back pain or who have suffered a back injury like a herniated disc or a pinched nerve, there’s more to finding the right workout than how many calories you burn. So how do you know which trendy workout is best for you? We’re breaking down some of the most popular options here.
Admit it: You’ve always wanted to try it. We don’t blame you. Dancing to loud music with a crowd of super enthusiastic rump shakers is fun. And, “The dance craze…torches some 400 calories per hour,” said ACTIVE. But what looks like a Latin-infused dance party could be painful if you’re trying to get rid of back pain.
“While many health and fitness benefits can result from participation in any type of physical activity, there is also a risk of musculo-skeletal problems, including back pain,” said Livestrong. “Any type of structural deviation such as an excessive curve of the lower spine may affect spinal movement. Zumba dance moves that require your spine to rotate or twist increase the pressure on the discs. This can lead to pain and discomfort in the lower back for those who suffer from posture problems.”
According to Livestrong, a “core imbalance” or, weak abdominal muscles, can contribute to poor posture and create back issues. Building up these muscles before starting Zumba classes may help. The right footwear is also crucial given the stress you will be putting on your feet. Look for shoes with proper cushioning, support, and flexibility, they said. Make sure you tell the salesperson you’ll be using the shoes for Zumba so they’ll show you appropriate options.
Spin classes are all the rage across the country, with a combination of “super-fast pacing and push-ups off the handlebars to the beat of bass-thumping music,” said ACTIVE. Classes allow people to work multiple muscle groups and burn up to 600 calories in a 40-minute period. But, spin classes can be particularly hard on your back, especially if you have a preexisting injury.
“According to a recent stat published in Women’s Health Magazine, 58 percent of professional cyclists experience lower back pain and experts think it may be even more common among casual riders who tend to sit too high or too far back in the seat,” said POPSUGAR. Back pain can occur from slouching forward on the bike, which can shift the discs in the lumbar spine. Repeated standing while pedaling, especially at such a quick pace, can also put pressure on the spine.
Doctors recommend asking for help to make sure your seat is in the best position before class begins and being aware of your posture while on the bike. And, despite the instructor’s insistence that you, “Push it harder!”, know your limits. If you start to feel any cramping or stiffening in your back while riding, it might be time to stop.
Think Zumba but with a different genre of music and more athletic moves. If twisting, turning, crouching, jumping, kicking, and bending are difficult for you under normal circumstances thanks to your back pain, adding hip-hop beats and choreography probably isn’t a great idea.
“To make it in the military, you’ve got to be tough. Recruits go through grueling workouts to get their bodies into top shape, doing drill after drill of push-ups, sit-ups, jumping jacks, pull-ups, and squats,” said WebMD. And that’s the idea behind Boot Camp fitness classes.
ACTIVE says the classes are “for the strong, the weak, the fit, and the not so fit,” but the truth is they may not be right for everyone. “Boot camp is not for you if you have physical disabilities, arthritis, or knee or back pain,” said WebMD. “Many of the moves are hard on your joints. Look for a low-impact workout instead.”
Also known as Bikram yoga, hot yoga is so named because it takes place in a room that is heated to between 90 and 105 degrees. The high temperature is thought to help increase flexibility by loosening muscles and easing stretching. That can be helpful to those whose chronic back pain has limited their mobility or who aren’t cleared for higher-impact workouts. Doctors caution those who are newly practicing hot yoga to go easy—stretching too much could be dangerous. Staying hydrated is also important because the temperature combined with the physical exertion could cause heat exhaustion.
Before embarking on any new exercise program, consult your doctor. If you have an ongoing back condition for which you have received treatment, you’ll want to make sure you are cleared for exercise. Doing too much and not abiding by your doctor’s recommendations could worsen an existing injury or cause a new one.
If you’re ready for treatment for back pain, it might be time to find a leading back doctor. The good news for those who have been suffering from chronic pain is new minimally invasive surgical techniques that make treating chronic back pain easier than ever, with outpatient treatments, small incisions, and a quicker recovery time instead of a long hospital stay.
For more information, contact DISC Spine Institute, experts in minimally invasive treatments for chronic back pain, the most effective medical procedures to treat and eliminate chronic back pain.