My patients have been asking me recently if going to the gym is good for mechanical lower back pain. This is the type of problem where you generally feel more stiffness and discomfort than actual pain and it usually described as more of a “niggle.” In some regards, yes it is – the body likes to move – it loosens up the muscles and joints which often will provide some relief. However, if the activity you are doing is making you feel worse, or is hurting when you do it, you need to STOP! Lower back pain is rarely a “no pain, no gain” type situation.
Certain types of weights (e.g. kettlebells), rowing, sit-ups, impact exercise – all of these could aggravate lower back pain as you are forcing back muscles to work harder. My go-to exercises usually include: walking on the treadmill, cycling, swimming (side stroke is best), water walking and gentle stretching. Anything that feels good is generally ok to do. One caveat – if you are getting pain down your legs, get this checked out before you try the gym, certain types of movement will definitely make this worse.
After you gym, consider a bit of ice or heat, depending on the area – you can check out my other articles for more specifics. If the stiffness doesn’t allieviate with your gym activity and continues to last more than about 48 hours, that may indicate the joint or muscle isn’t entirely responding and chiropractic care might be beneficial – pain is always the last symptom to occur. Remember, the earlier you get any problem checked out – the quicker it will generally resolve. Call me with questions on 01494 623003