EXERCISE is essential for maintaining a strong back and protecting it from injury. It also promotes weight control and good posture and helps reduce muscle tension. You should concentrate not only on exercises that stretch and strengthen back muscles, but also on those that strengthen the abdominal muscles that help support the back. The three exercises shown here often featured in back ache prevention programs will get you started. They should be done at least four times a week. Start any exercise program slowly, especially if you ever had back pain. Stop if you feel any pain, Avoid exercises that increase the stress on the spine, such as straight leg toe touches or backward bends. And always warm up and stretch before working out.
Do not do these or any other excises if your back currently hurts consult a therapist first. What type of exercise is best for people with back pain remains controversial.
Calisthenics and stretches like these are not your only fitness options. Walking, swimming, (but not the butterfly or breast stroke, which can put exercise strain on the lower back), and cycling (with an upright posture) are good for the back. However, sports that involve lifting, twisting, and excessive arching of the spine, jumping, sudden starts and stops, and collisions with other players (including racquet sports, golf, bowling, football, basketball, and weight lifting) are not recommended for people with back problems.
Article extracted from this publication >> March 11, 1988