A lot of people say it, and I want to add that I agree: building muscle and exercise are the things that have most helped me to keep my back pain at bay.
I’ve always had issues with my lower back, and I think most of them stem from bad posture and being stuck at a desk for 10 hours each day. Although the pain comes and goes, it’s often there in the mornings when I wake up. I sleep on an excellent memory foam mattress topper, on a foam futon on the tatami floor of my Japanese house. So all of these things SHOULD help my back, not hurt it.
But my back doesn’t hurt when I wake up on my days off, it’s only on the days (and mornings) after I went to work, which leads me to believe that sitting in a chair at a desk for 10 hours each day isn’t helping.
So, what can I do?
Recently, I’ve actually LOWERED the height of my chair, so I have to sit up straighter in order to teach the lesson, write the notes and type feedback. It has helped a lot, and I would highly recommend it. My legs are ALMOST at a 90-degree angle these days, and I can stretch my back a lot easier from this level.
But the thing that helps me the most has always been working out. I wanted to write about that today because I’ve been talking a lot of people lately (justifiably: much older and less active than me), and they all complain about so many tiny aches and pains that are not joint-related. I know each of them lives a generally sedentary life (they are all about retirement-aged) and they don’t do much on a day-to-day basis.
Even if it’s just something light, like walking more or taking the stairs at the train station, it can count as exercise. As long as it’s more than you normally do.
The amount of exercise I do on a weekly basis is MINIMAL compared to the amount I want to do, but it’s really all I have time for. If I’m lucky, I can run 2-3 times a week, and do yoga and some light floor work at home twice a week. But what normally happens is I only run once or twice a week, and do yoga/floor work once. So, 3 days a week in total. I only run for 30 minutes. This is not a lot of working out.
And yet, it’s enough for me. Granted, I live in a country and city where you don’t need a car, and everyone generally walks everywhere and takes the trains. Maybe this counts as exercise, but as this is daily practice for me, it’s stopped having the effect of exercise on my body. Although I’m sure it helps and keeps my behind firm;)
If I go for a week or two (like I did on and after a recent vacation) where I don’t run or walk that much, my back lets me know. It’s almost complaining to me that I need to go for a run. And running with a sore back is NOT fun, but it gets rid of the pain.
On top of this, most of the yoga routines I do in the mornings focus on the lower back, which can only help.
So even if you only have 10 or 15 minutes in your day, it can be all you need to get rid of bodily aches and pains. Obviously, if your doctor has recommended that you DON’T do anything physical for a while, you should listen to them. But just in general, for your health, it’s good to get out and do something, and stretch yourself out when you can.
Your body will thank you for it. And every little bit, as they say, helps.