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Low Back Pain

As an adult, you probably have experienced low back pain, in fact the AANS (American Association of Neurological Surgeons) states that 75-85% of adults will experience some form of back pain in their lifetime.  As you may know, low back pain can greatly affect your life and make daily activities very difficult. Before we dive into how to treat low back pain, let’s take a look at why you may be dealing with low back pain in the first place.

Causes

Because the low back is a main area of stabilization, support and rotation, many different factors can contribute to pain felt there. Some of the causes include strained muscles, sprained ligaments, nerve irritation, degeneration, overuse, intervertebral disc injury, spinal stenosis, scoliosis as well as an acute injury.

Overuse/acute injury is a very common cause of low back pain. A low back injury can occur by doing a lot of activity that our body isn’t prepared to do. This could be anything from repetitive lifting to being a weekend warrior.  Acute injuries can happen from activities you perform on a regular basis or an activity you have never done before.

As we age, our bodies slow down. The low back experiences a lot of wear and tear over the years which may result in damage.  One form of damage that can occur is in the form of disc degeneration (the wear and tear, shrinking, and collapse of intervertebral disc).  Another is spinal stenosis (narrowing of the space around the spinal cord).

When an intervertebral disc (the shock absorbers of the spine) is damaged the result can be a stretching known as an intervertebral disc bulge or a rupturing known as an intervertebral disc herniation.

Scoliosis may also be a cause of low back pain.  Scoliosis is an abnormal curvature of the spine.  A scoliosis can cause your back to be off balance and become strained, thereby causing pain and stiffness.

Symptoms

Low back pain symptoms can vary greatly from person to person in nature, frequency and intensity and are often different depending upon the cause. Your pain may be dull or sharp. It may constant or intermittent.  It may get worse with standing, sitting, bending, or walking. Pain may even extend into your buttock or down your leg.

Symptoms can vary a lot from person to person. Getting an examination with Dr. Boroditsky is the best way to assess what treatment plan is best for you.

Treatment

Prior to starting any type of treatment, it is always advisable to first see an appropriately trained spine specialist to develop an appropriate treatment program for your specific condition and medical history.

The main goals for managing back pain in the lumbar spine (lower back) usually include:

  • Providing enough pain relief to be able to actively participate with physical therapy and rehabilitation
  • Preventing further injury or stress to the spine through improved ergonomics and posture
  • Maintaining an ability to function enough at home and at work

Non-Surgical Back Pain Treatments

There are a wide variety of non-surgical options for back pain treatment of the lumbar spine. The more common treatment approaches include:

Pain medication. Typical pain medications used to treat the lower back pain include acetaminophen, NSAIDs, oral steroids, narcotic drugs, muscle relaxants, and anti-depressants. Each type of medication has strengths, limitations, and risks, and the patient’s particular problem in the lower back and overall health will determine which pain reliever, if any, is indicated.

Heat or ice. Application of a cold pack or heating pad can help relieve low back pain. Some people find that alternating between the two works best.
Manual manipulation. This treatment maybe applied by a Dr. Boroditsky! He can improve your pain by manually and gently  manipulating the vertebrae away from the nerve, reducing pressure. This will greatly improve your pain.  Manipulations also increase flexibility, improving blood flow and reducing muscle tension.
Therapeutic massage. Massage therapy is thought to improve blood flow, reducing muscle stiffness, and decrease stiffness.
Exercise. A program of back exercises and physical therapy will usually include a combination of strengthening, stretching, and low-impact aerobic exercise.
Call 763.390.1323 today to schedule an appointment, we can help with your low back pain!

Strength Training

Whatever your age, strength training is an activity that provides many health benefits for both men and women. Strength training can be done by people who are in good health, as well as by those who have health concerns — such as arthritis or chronic pain.

Combined with regular aerobic exercise, doing an activity like lifting weights two or more times a week can improve your mental, emotional and physical health.

Strength training is known to reduce the symptoms of several health problems and chronic diseases, such as:

  • Arthritis, including osteoarthritis
  • Back pain and other types of pain
  • Depression
  • Diabetes
  • Obesity
  • Osteoporosis

While some of the benefits of strength training are for older men and women, it is never too early to start. The major benefits of strength training include:

  • Increased muscle strength. Without use, our muscles waste away as we age. Regular strength training can keep your muscles strong well into the post-retirement years. This can have a profound impact on your ability to function in your daily life.
  • Improved balance and reduced falls. Simple strength and balance training can improve your balance. This can reduce the risk of falling, which is a common problem for older people. Bone fractures from falls can lead to permanent disability and may even lead to death.
  • Stronger bones. Lifting weights or doing other types of resistance exercises puts stress on the bones. In response, the bones grow stronger (denser). This reduces the risk of bone fractures. Post-menopausal women, in particular, can benefit, because they lose 1 to 2 percent of their bone mass each year.
  • Weight control. Building muscle also increases how many calories you burn, because muscle tissue is very active. For this reason, strength training can boost your metabolism, which can help you lose weight or maintain a healthy weight.
  • Improved glucose control. Millions of Americans have type-2 diabetes, a condition that involves elevated levels of glucose in the blood. Left untreated, this condition can lead to heart or kidney problems, and even blindness. Strength training reduces the risk of these conditions by improving the glucose levels in the blood.
  • Better moods and sleep. Like aerobic exercise, strength training can improve your mood, self-confidence and self-esteem. In addition, regular exercise can help you sleep better. Together, these add up to a better overall quality of life.
  • Stronger heart muscle. The muscles of your arms and legs are not the only ones that benefit from strength training. Your heart will also grow stronger with exercise, which shows up as improved aerobic capacity. Even cardiac patients can benefit from doing this type of physical activity three times a week.

It is never too early or too late to start a strength training program. Adults should aim for doing this as least two days a week. The exercises should work all the major muscle groups of the body.

Strength training often involves lifting weights. But other types of resistance exercises also work well — such as using exercise bands or doing bodyweight exercises, such as push-ups or crunches.

If you are physically inactive, have an existing health condition or have concerns about your health, check with your doctor before starting any exercise program.