How To Start? (back Pain, Etc.)
Q: A 34 year old man, seriously overweight and out of shape all of my life. I want to exercise and lose weight. But when I even walk a little, my lower back hurts. If I can lose the weight, that will probably help my back. But the discomfort is enough to keep me sitting. What do you recommend?
A: Go pay a one day visit to a health club or some place with lots of machines and find out which ones you can use without too much pain. There are stair steppers, rowers, bikes, elliptical machines etc. Try them all for 5 minutes. Also, you might just try getting a little step stool and doing step up and down exercises. Just do something to elevate your heartrate to whatever the safe maximum is for 20 minutes. Have you seen a Dr. about your back? I would suggest seeing one before starting an exercise program for several reasons. 1) your overall health and 2) your back and 3) to find out any precautions and find out how 'aggressive' your program should be. Does the pain go down your legs? Do you have weakness in your legs? Get it checked. After an OK by the Dr., you should start with short walks and not too fast. You can build gradually, it's more safe and you are more likely to stay with it. Stay near your home, remember you have to walk back. Yikes, what a bunch of useless "help" you got here. The reason your back hurts after a little walking is that the muscles that support your torso are weakened, not doing their job in supporting your spine. This causes stress on the spine and associated muscles and ligaments. I assume here that you're not talking about severe, incapacitating pain. This is *extremely* common in obese people. What to do? A couple of things. First, you need to strengthen those muscles. This needs to be done gradually. I think yoga does a good job of strengthening torso muscles. You need to strengthen muscles in the abdomen as well as back. Secondly you need to start stretching, not only the back but leg muscles as well. Shortened leg muscles often cause back pain. Yoga again helps a great deal here. Many chiropractors and physicians have handouts with strengthening and stretching exercises for help with back pain. Finally, you can start walking, but in short stretches. If you can walk only 3 minutes before the pain gets to you, do three minutes. Repeat several times a day, and don't forget to stretch out your leg muscles after each walk. Gradually increase the amount of time you're walking. Add one minute, maybe. Then next week add another minute or two. The body will adapt to whatever exercise you're doing, strengthening the muscles as necessary. The most common issue with overweight, out-of-condition people is their tendency to try to bite the bullet and overdo, creating overuse injuries. Just take it gradually. Also be sure you're wearing good walking shoes. You don't want the very heavily padded soles, actually, which often help create plantar fascitis, just a moderately cushioned sole in a sturdy walking shoe. If your back pain is incapacitating, so that you're in pain all the time, even sitting, then you might consider seeing a physician or chiropractor. Keep in mind, however, that a study done some years ago, focused on methods for relief of back pain, found traditional medical treatments (muscle relaxants, pain relievers, surgery) to be the *least* effective at long-term relief. Chiropractors had a better track record. Best of all, surprisingly (or maybe not), was yoga. Good luck to you, you can do it. Many others have also.
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