Studies Show Exercise Is Surprisingly Good For Back Pain
"The body's responses to back pain are fairly predictable," says Robertson. You have a muscle spasm, so you try to avoid making things worse by limiting movement—which serves only to focus your attention on the area, increasing your sensitivity to pain. When you keep moving after an attack, it makes you less likely to stiffen up, distracts your brain, and helps you avoid overcompensating with other muscle groups.
Shorter recovery time.
Aerobic activity can improve blood flow to the spinal area, says Heidi Prather, professor of physical medicine and rehabilitation at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. This can help heal damaged tissues or herniated disks, "which sitting down doesn't do."
Research by Linda Van Dillen, PhD, professor of physical therapy and orthopedic surgery at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, found that when people with chronic low-back pain learn in PT to correctly perform problematic moves (such as emptying the dishwasher) and then are diligent about not slipping back into bad habits, they're able to do more with less discomfort.
Studies show that when patients take an active role in their own recovery (like by exercising or keeping up with PT), they enjoy better outcomes over the long term. Says Prather, "With back pain, patients have more power than they realize."
Read More: This Woman Exercised Her Back Pain Away–And You Can, Too and Doctors Say Opioids Should Be a Last Resort for Back Pain