Which sports to get back to

After a back pain episode and/or a long pause without exercising, it is important to choose the best sport to get back to. It is obvious that you will not go running while you are recuperating from a lumbar disc herniation problem, for example.

If you have been sedentary for a long time, we do not recommend jumping into a sport as if you did it yesterday. We need to get back into motion gradually, and slowly, to avoid relapse or new injuries. Your motivation may be at its best but make sure you build up your recovery one step at a time.

A very good exercise is swimming. This activity is ideal for people who suffer from lower back pain since floating in the water minimises the effects of gravity and pressure applied to the intervertebral discs. This sport is gentle and accessible to everyone and for people of all ages.

It can be practised even if you suffer from joint or muscle pain as long as they are not too intense or incapacitating. We recommend swimming crawl or on your back and avoid breaststroke which could create too much pressure on the lumbar spine and fatigue in the cervical spine.

Back exercises
You can do some isometric exercises to strengthen your paravertebral and abdominal muscles. The exercise called the plank is the one where you keep the same posture during a few seconds which allows to work on many muscles at the same time and in synergy. Muscles can always be strengthened even at a later age in life.

There are stretching and mobilising exercises that can keep your spine more flexible and adaptable, and strengthening exercises that make your muscles more resistant.

Yoga, Pilates, Tai-Chi
Based on slow movements and static postures, Yoga, Pilates or Tai-Chi are activities that allow you to build muscles without creating brisk motions on your back.

A lot of cervical or lumbar pain can be relieved by practising these arts. We recommend you are accompanied by a teacher to learn how to do the exercises without hurting yourself.

A good teacher will correct your posture and teach you to feel the right posture and exercise so you can enjoy its benefits and not exacerbate your back pain. You can also combine Yoga with meditation which helps you relax and relieves some pain that might be due to muscle tensions.  

Walking is the most available exercise to do, and it helps tone your muscles. It is better, at first, to start with small steps so you do not create torsion in your spine. You should privilege a soft surface and good running shoes to effectively absorb the pressure of your steps. Your posture is also important, try to relax your shoulders and keep your back straight and look in front of you. Breathe and enjoy that time you give yourself.

This sport, just like swimming, allows less pressure on your joints and brings symmetry to your motion. However, you have to be careful with your posture once on your bike. You should have your back as straight as possible and the bike should be adapted to your morphology. Always go for short periods at a time at first and build up from there.

To stay inactive or to do too much sports can increase the risks of suffering from back pain. You have to find the right balance when practising a regular activity. Find a sport that is right for you, that motivates you and that you enjoy. That is the key to success.

Ask your chiropractor about what kind of sport is better for you.

Back pain can be so mild that it is merely annoying and distracting. Or it can be so severe that it is unbearable and incapacitating. If the sensations of discomfort, stiffness or soreness last more than a day or so, it is more serious and less likely to disappear on its own.

In either case, see a chiropractor and have a proper spinal check up. Your whole body will work better by having your nervous system free of interference. That is the essence of chiropractic care and is designed for you and your family.

By Sandra Genest-Boudreau | Christophe O. Alves
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Sandra Genest-Boudreau is French-Canadian, who graduated from the Canadian Memorial Chiropractic College in 1990 before coming to the Algarve in 2002. She is passionate about adjusting all her patients, particularly children. Christophe Alves graduated from the Anglo-European College of Chiropractic (AECC) UK, and has a special interest in Sport Chiropractic. Algarve Quiroprática clinic: EN125 in Pêra | 282 312 853 | 969 397 375
Licença da ERS n.º 17485/2019 de 11-06-2019