How to live without chronic back pain: A prevention plan

Finally, it’s time to put together a long-term, exercise-based plan to keep you out of pain.

Important note: As with any exercise program, consult your doctor before beginning.

Trust yourself

In the previous articles and videos in this series, I’ve shared more than a dozen exercise options and encouraged you to try them all while listening carefully to your body to determine which have helped you gain relief and regain strength and mobility.

To put together your long-term back care strategy, you must continue to trust and develop your instincts. Don’t be afraid to rely on your mind-body connection to guide you in choosing the right exercises to incorporate into daily life and to address specific needs, as your back will occasionally send you signals that it requires extra attention or slightly different approaches.

Exercises to relieve your back pain, restore your health

These signals can be as strong as a temporary recurrence of sciatica symptoms or as gentle as a whisper from a back muscle that feels a little out of place. Now that you’ve invested the time and energy trying to figure out how your body responds to different exercises and techniques, you simply need to go back to what worked before.

You should feel empowered to be proactive and confident in your own self-care!

Get daily exercise

There is no passive approach that will keep your back healthy. Since your body is designed for movement, daily exercise is your most effective preventative medicine. In fact, even just 11 minutes of moderate exercise daily can not only help you be pain-free, but research shows you can live longer.

There are many ways to achieve your 11 minutes or more daily exercise. Since we’re focusing on your back health, consider picking three of the exercises from the previous articles in the series that have helped you find relief and incorporating them into your everyday life.

According to fitness expert Dana Santas, finding the right daily exercises for yourself is important to staying pain-free.
Because of the role your breathing pattern plays in maintaining posture and alignment, I highly recommend including the breath bridge exercise as one of your three exercises.
Your three back care exercises should only take a few minutes to complete, so you’ll need to incorporate some other daily exercises to reach that minimum threshold. Consider this 10-minute bodyweight workout routine or, if you’re new to exercise, my reboot training series can help.

Practice mindful walking

Whether as or in addition to your daily exercise allotment, I highly recommend mindful walking for at least eight to ten minutes each day. With each step, pay attention to the synchronicity of the movements involved and your ability to breathe well as you walk.

How to relieve the symptoms of sciatica

The walking is an alternating and reciprocal pattern, which simply means that while one side of the body is doing one thing, the other is doing the opposite to create a complete movement. This covers the upper and lower halves of your body and includes all of the supporting back muscles. Proper foot placement and heel strike allow you to absorb shock and move your body weight with balance and control. Arm swinging is essential to a functional walking pattern because it creates healthy chest movement in coordination with each step, facilitating necessary core, hip, and core strength that helps avoid spinal strain.

Perhaps walking has been painful for you in the past — but it’s likely the muscles that contributed to your back pain are to blame. By mindfully training your gait to be a symphony in motion, you’ll be able to initiate and sustain healthy movements to prevent future aches and pains.

Watch the video at the top of this article for some easy-to-follow tips for proper walking mechanics.

Stay accountable

Living pain-free doesn’t mean limiting your activities or numbing your pain with medication. It is important to be proactive in keeping moving! Be aware when you’ve been sitting for an hour or more, and be proactive in getting up, stretching, and moving to counteract the effects of sitting on your back muscles and posture.
18 Comfortable Pairs of Sneakers You Can Run In All Day (Courtesy of CNN Underscored)

Once you discover the right daily exercises to avoid pain and experience consistent benefits, you will find that you are increasingly motivated to exercise. That’s because your body is designed to reward you for giving it what it needs to be healthy and strong. Exercise affects our physiology, increasing the production of feel-good hormones and decreasing our stress response. And just like anything that feels good and produces positive results, you’ll want more of it.

I encourage you to work through all of the articles in the series and find exercises that work for you to create an effective self-care program that will get you out of pain – and help you avoid pain in the future. With this series, my goal was to empower you with education and resources to proactively take care of your back and live a better life.

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