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Moves to get your back on track

January 15, 2009 12:00:00 AM PST
Most can handle the occasional head or stomach ache, but when your back goes out the pain can be all consuming. While popping a pain pill and lying down seems like a great idea, some experts have a very different idea on how to get back on track."The worst thing you can do for back pain is to lie still and just keep masking the symptoms," said fitness expert Jill Brown.

Brown has a bulging disc from a past car accident. On-going stretching and strengthening is just what the doctor ordered.

Actually, new guidelines from the American College of Physicians says lying in bed can do more harm than good as muscles and tendons tend to tighten up even more causing stiffness.

"If you're not strengthening the muscles and the tissue around the affected area, around the spinal column, and around the core, then those muscles are going to degenerate more and that's going to cause more compression spine," said Brown.

When your back goes out, many doctors recommend reducing inflammation. Acetaminophen is generally the first choice if you need to reduce pain. Ice or heat is next in line to initially quiet the problem, along with minimal movement.

Ice reduces inflammation, but heat from either a warm bath or heating pad can loosen strained muscles and help you move.

Try walking a long, slow gate to release muscle tension and lubricate joints. Most back pain works itself out in six weeks or less for 90 percent of the people.

When you're back to your old self again, it is time to stretch and strengthen core, hip and thigh muscles to prevent a repeat performance.

A movement called cat-cow rounds and stretches the back while strengthening abs, while the quadra-ped is a core stabilizer. The plank, which can be done on forearms or hands, strengthens the whole package.

Brown says buying a $20 foam roller is a great investment not only for deep tissue massage, but for working on core strength as well.

"Go ahead and walk, have good posture, stand up tall, pull your abdominals in all the time," said Brown.


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