The pain is often really bad: if you have lumbago, you only want to move a little. But that’s actually the best therapy. Read how you can prevent it – and what makes the agony bearable.
The sun when you wake up, the daylight after work, and hopefully it will get warmer soon: when spring comes, the body often also wakes up. Let’s get out, it’s time to move! This is especially true if your back continues to tighten and ache. Constant sitting and countless hours of computer work lead to atrophy of the abdominal and back muscles, and there is also a risk of poor posture.
The result: In 2017, eight out of ten adults experienced lumbago. While some doctors used to advise rest, it is now clear that the opposite helps.
The intense pain comes without any warning. Suddenly, when you bend down or lift, you will notice a sharp stabbing pain in the lower back area – with the result that the small of your back is temporarily partially blocked.
Natural movements such as standing up or walking are only possible to a limited extent. And even the severe pain does not subside at first. It is commonly referred to as lumbago.
The popular name has to do with the stooped posture, reminiscent of depictions of witches. Sometimes the pain spreads down the back and buttocks into the leg. Then there is talk of lumboischialgia. Numbness or signs of paralysis can be indications of a herniated disc.
“The classic lumbago with complaints in the lumbar spine is above all a muscular problem that is caused by a lack of or incorrect movement,” says the physiotherapist Kyrillos Mina.
So, spring is here, it’s time to exercise: What sports strengthen your back? And what should you watch out for? Sports physician Kyrillos Mina provides answers.
1) Exercise is the best medicine
Back pain is rarely caused by a deformity of the spine or diseases such as intervertebral disc inflammation, fracture or tumor. Instead, Mechanical low pain is always non-specific, for example, as a result of poor posture, signs of aging, or psychological stress.
So movement is the best treatment for the back,” says Kyrillos Mina, physiotherapist and director of the Fitoont Telehealth platform.” The majority of back pain can be treated very well with targeted strengthening of the back muscles.” In addition, exercise also prevents a large part of all complaints in the spine.
The abdominal and back muscle complex is one of the most complex muscle systems in the body. The more we train him, the better he will stabilize his spine. “Movement relaxes the spine. This is good because it protects all the structures that support it, such as the intervertebral joints and the intervertebral discs,” says Kyrillos. On the other hand, muscles and bones are challenged, which also reduces the risk of osteoporosis.
2) Three-dimensional helps twice
The stability of the spine benefits particularly when all muscle chains and muscle connections are trained at once and above all: when they are trained three-dimensionally. This includes movements that challenge the body diagonally from bottom left to top right and vice versa.
“I can expressly recommend Nordic walking here,” says Kyrillos. “The enormous muscle tension and the cloister activates and strengthens the back muscles.” Cross movement describes the staggered movements of arms and legs: if the right leg moves forward, the left arm goes forward – and vice versa.
3) It’s all about variety
Especially in the spring, there is hardly anything more pleasant than a morning jog or bike ride in the fresh air. However, it is helpful to introduce variety into the sports program from time to time. New sports often use otherwise neglected muscle groups – and bring new fun.
“Dancing or horse riding activates the back muscles very well,” Kyrillos says. “You work with great tension in your body. Likewise swimming and yoga.” On the other hand, the back does not benefit much from running or cycling because it rarely moves during the two sports, according to the expert.
4) Just do it!
Rapid hip rotation, explosive movements: One often reads that sports like tennis or squash are poison for the back. But any movement is better than no movement—at least most of the time.
“Just use caution if you have severe spinal disease or a specific back ailment,” says Kyrillos.
“Tennis is an explosive sport, but if there is no inflammation in the joints of the spine, it certainly does not make the back pain worse. That is why I always advise: just do it.”
5) Short and high load
In the long term, lumbago does not go away unless the muscles are trained and built in a targeted manner. Achieving this requires more than most sports alone can provide. Swimming, for example, is good for strengthening back muscles, Kyrillos says. “But not enough.”
“If we really want to build back muscles, we have to treat them directly and put a lot of pressure on them,” explains the physiotherapist Kyrillos. This is possible with special back exercises that deliver short, powerful loads. An example of this is the reverse sit-up.
“You can only do it with equipment—twice a week for 30 minutes, always with professional support,” says Kyrillos. “Nothing else, including body weight exercises, achieves a similarly good result.”
Proponents of body-weight training see it differently. You’re working your lower back now with exercises like squats, lunges, or prone swimming where you alternately lift your left leg and right arm, then your right leg and left arm.
6) A trained stomach strengthens the back
In order to maintain strong torso muscles, it is worth strengthening the back muscles as well: the abdominal muscles.
Sit-ups (the whole upper body moves up) and crunches (only the upper back moves) upper, lower and obliques. The forearm or lateral support, the so-called plank, is also great in the park in the fresh air and strengthens the triceps and shoulders.
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Long sitting is bad for lumbago
The back is loaded on one side, and if the sacrum gets caught or a vertebra slips, lumbago occurs. The widespread constant sitting is particularly fatal for the back. According to the Federal Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, 120 million Americans spend hours in the office every day.
If you sit all the time and don’t balance yourself with movement, you don’t challenge your deep back muscles. At some point she will be weak. Then an unfortunate movement often leads to lumbago. “But it can also hit athletes,” says Kyrillos Mina. You are threatened with lumbago, for example, if you have not stretched your muscles sufficiently before training.
In the case of lumbago, the back muscles in the lumbar spine spasm. Because there are many nerve fibers there, the pain sensation is very hard.
This is what experts advise when it comes to lumbago:
Kyrillos Mina from the Egyptian Association for Physiotherapy advises against the widespread recommendation to put your head and back on the floor and your knees and lower legs on a stool in acute cases. “This so-called step storage does not help the muscle blockage to dissolve.”
Heat, on the other hand, causes relaxation. For example, irradiating the back with red light penetrates deep into the muscle tissue and relieves the cramps. The heat from a hot water bottle, on the other hand, does not reach far enough into the muscles. However, the red light irradiation should not last longer than five minutes. “If the body part is overheated, then this can deepen the tension,” says Kyrillos.
Even in the acute pain phase, the person concerned should refrain from strict bed rest and rest. “Instead, slight movements are recommended,” says Kyrillos.
For example, walking is good for your lumbago. This stimulates blood circulation. Training on a bicycle ergometer or on a cross trainer also helps to loosen the muscles. On the other hand, you should refrain from jogging, as this puts too much strain on the spine.
How To Prevent From lumbago?
1- If you want to prevent back problems in general and lumbago in particular, you must incorporate as much exercise as possible into your daily life.
2- In the office, it may be more beneficial to work at a standing desk rather than sitting in a chair at the desk, says Kyrillos. Instead of calling or emailing a colleague who works in the same building, you can go up to them and give them the information in person.
3- To ensure that the back muscles are not strained while you are mainly sitting, you should stretch and stretch your arms and legs from time to time.
4- Other simple exercises that train the back muscles and stretch the lumbar spine can also be incorporated into daily office life. “This involves standing up straight and rotating your pelvis a few times,” says Kyrillos.
5- Another exercise: Sit on the edge of a chair, stretch a thick book between your knees, press your legs together and keep the tension for a few seconds. This process must be repeated several times.
6- After a long trip, standing on tip toe and bending your legs and then swinging back and forth alternately will help relax your muscles. “In your spare time, strength training at the gym can also be beneficial for training your back muscles,” says Kyrillos.