Keeping a Healthy Back

For many years I have been working out with weights and cardiovascular training. What I have found is that I  need to prevent injuries through some good stretching before and after workouts.

There are many options to good back care.

For example, I enjoy and feel much better after a workout if I get into a sauna for a few minutes. But I know people who say that saunas help them before a workout to loosen their muscles. We each have our own unique needs.

I have had a few injuries with my shoulders in the past. Both my right and left rotator cuff have been a problem over the years, enough to warrant a check with my doctor, and of course some physical therapy and later  yoga classes. I like yoga so much now, I have become an instructor! (beginner instructor). I am my local gym’s substitute.

I also have a right knee problem which I am gentle with! I have been told by many personal trainers and my MD that bicycle riding is the best thing for knees, so that has become my favorite exercise.

As far as my back, every once in awhile I seem to have some lower back problems from working out too much!

This I nurse to health with my trigger point roller. This is a new item that I recently purchased. I was skeptical, but it really helps to roll on it when my back is sore.


If you are looking for relief from some back issues, here are a few tips from author Jonathan Greer, MD:

Prevention is the key to most back ailments! Keeping a healthy back is important, and author Jonathan Greer, MD, focuses on the importance in his healthy living Series on Back Pain.

Prevention: Use proper lifting techniques when  you have to move something heavy. Squat down instead of bending at the waist, so that your legs do the lifting.

Myths and Truths on Back pain

1. Myth #1: If your back hurts, you should rest until it feels better.

On the contrary, studies show that people who rest less and try to stay active, feel better faster!

2. Myth #2 Lie on the floor, or a firm mattress for relief from back pain

The floor does not offer enough support, and if you get down there, you may not be able to get up!

So  lie down if you need to, choose a bed, preferably one with a soft or pillow top mattress. Experts no longer recommend a firm mattress for back problems.

For some pain management:

When you experience  back pain, non-steroidal, anti-inflammatory drugs such as aspirin or ibuprofen help

Use ice packs

Use a heating pad or take a hot shower

Alternating between hot and cold treatments helps. The experts agree here that both hot and cold helps!

Get a massage

Stretching. I have found that using yoga stretches can really help my back. Start out slow. There are many good videos on the market that have beginners yoga routines, or go to a gym. There are many gyms that have good instructors. Try a few different instructors out. They all use different techniques and different levels. Start out with a beginners class.

Go to a bookstore or library and research different types of exercise that may be a good fit for you such as tai-chi, martial arts, swimming.

Eat better. Go to the grocery store and shop for more veggies, fruits, whole grain breads, low fat dairy products, healthy oils such as canola, olive oil and lean meats such as chicken breasts. This may help you  to keep your weight maintained which means less weight on your back.

Walk. Make sure you have a good pair of walking or running shoes that are comfortable. Always ask for help with a good fitting at the shoe store.

Keep yourself calm. Relax more with aromatherapy, a hot bath and meditation

Make an appointment with your doctor if you find no relief from your pain: there can be other reasons for back pain such as gallstones or kidneystones.


If you go to a doctor for your back pain, here are some common tests that may be given to you:

X-Rays: can detect structural problems in your back such as fractures, slipped vertebrae, narrow disc spaces, calcium deposits, spurs, and even kidney and gallstones.

MRIs (magnetic resonance imaging) uses magnets to rotate around the body to show the various parts of your back. MRIs are useful to detect whether your back problem is coming form a nerve that is being compressed by a disc.

Bone Scans: A bone scan can show such things as tumors, infections, fractures.

CAT Scan: This X-ray beam rotates around a patient ( computed axial tomography scan).  It gives your doctor a three-dimensional view. It can show both soft tissues and bones, and can diagnose herniated discs and fractures.

Bone Mineral Density Test (BMD) measures the amount of the mineral calcium in your bones. The more calcium, the denser the bone. This test can show whether you are at risk for osteoporosis. Your physician may order this test if you have risk factors such as postmenopausal or being on long term corticosteroid therapy.

Taken in part from: Greer, J ( 2006). Chicken Soup for the Soul Healthy Living Series on Back Pain. with Jack Canfield and Mark Hansen. Dearfield Beach, FL., and