“I suffered from fatigue and such debilitating low-back pain that made even walking almost unbearably painful. In fact, to get around, I had to have a handicap sticker on my car and much of the time, use a wheelchair. I was taking so much time off from work that I was afraid I might lose my job.”
Chronic back pain can become the entire focus of your life, taking time and energy away from the things and the people that you love. Especially when this back pain is caused by degenerative disc disease (DDD), many people are unsure how to find relief. Though things may seem grim, there’s no need to lose hope, because thankfully the vast majority of people suffering from DDD are able to successfully manage their symptoms, avoid surgery and live a full life.
The first step is to control back pain so you can keep living the way you want to.
Staying Active to Slow Degenerative Disc Disease
Among the many ways our body shows its mileage is spinal disc wear and tear. Our spine deals with huge and sometimes rather violent forces as it keeps us upright and provides leverage for our core muscles to work. However, over time the discs that act like shock absorbers in between the spinal bones can become dried out and damaged from normal use and abuse. If sufficiently damaged, these discs can trigger spinal nerve degeneration and can cause some chronic and sometimes intense pain, called Degenerative Disc Disease (DDD).
If you have DDD it’s not the end of the world; the vast majority of people can control their symptoms without resorting to invasive surgery. Almost counterintuitively, the best way to keep back pain at bay is the right kind of exercise and stretching.
Exercises and stretching are absolutely the best ways to preserve existing functionality and even potentially heal your back. The discs really don’t have many ways to be repaired because they have very little circulation. By exercising you can help increase blood and oxygen flow and keep your spine and discs hydrated and healthy.
It’s a smart investment to have a few visits with a physical therapist who can show you how to perform exercises and stretches that work for your specific case. In general, a workout regimen with alternating days of 30 minutes of strength-building exercises with days of low-impact cardio can do wonders for your back.
With your strength exercises, try to focus on your core muscles, meaning all the muscles found on your front and back torso, which also targets your spine. Start with crunches that will build your abs and possibly take pressure off your lower back and maybe a bridge pose or two which with strengthen your back and buttocks.
Swimming is the ultimate in low-impact cardio and also involves some great twisting motions that build your core muscles and use your spine. Biking varies wildly; sometimes it can be great for your back and other times can be torture. Walking and slow jogging can often seem like almost a back massage for many with back pain. You’ll have to experiment to see what works best for you.
Our last suggestion it to stretching for five minutes after waking and another five before going to bed can increase mobility and help loosen tight back muscles. Hamstring stretches, spinal twists, and fetal positions can help loosen muscles that contribute to back pain.