Q: The Fitness First staff encourages me to strength train my low back even when I have acute low back pain.  How does strength training help with low back pain?

A: Low back pain is categorized as follows:

  • Acute – a few days to ~6 weeks
  • Subacute – ~6 to ~12 weeks
  • Chronic – greater than 12 weeks

About 80% of adults experience low back pain at some point in their lifetime.  50% of people in the United States experience chronic low back pain and it is the most common cause of job-related disability and missed workdays.

How does strength training provide relief for low back pain and improve my low back health?

  1. When a low back injury occurs, strength training promotes oxygen / nutrient rich blood flow to the area to speed injury repair
  2. Helps alleviates stiffness and improves the spine’s range of motion
  3. Leads to gains in strength and muscle mass.  Gains in strength and muscle mass help stabilize the spine and reduces pain associated with poor posture
  4. Improves bone density to reduce the risk of osteoporosis and the pain associated with osteoporosis
  5. A strong stable spine reduces the likelihood of future injury or re-injury
  6. Promotes Endorphin release.  Endorphins elevate mood and lower the perception of pain
  7. Strength training and stretching the hamstrings helps provides relief for back pain

Regardless of the low back pain type, research has shown that strength training is an effective way to reduce pain, perceived pain, the level of disability, and improve quality of life.

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