I have been practicing chiropractic in downtown San Francisco for 18 years now. One of the things I have learned is...there really is no "best exercise" when it comes to low back pain. It's more a matter of your overall fitness level, age, and specific spinal condition.
In general...staying fit from things like lifting weights, Pilate's, cycling, running, aerobics, and cross-training, all make sense if the conditions are right and you can handle it.
However, if the conditions are not right...say your back is inflamed and you can't even think about exercise...well, we have to get the inflammation down first (chiropractic care is great for this), then start real easy with exercise, and go from there.
At Executive Express Chiropractic the exercises we prescribe are all based on the individual, and are very specific in nature. But at the same time, we want to teach our patients common sense thought processes that they can use throughout their lives as they relate to back pain exercises and exercise in general.
1. If it hurts, don’t do it This rule simply means that pain is bad. When you are trying a new exercise, or performing one you know, the exercise should be helping to relieve pain, not increase it. Some things to consider when implementing this rule are: (1) change the resistance (i.e. decrease or increase the weight), (2) change the speed (i.e. slow down or speed up), (3) change the range of motion (i.e. make your movement smaller or bigger). If none of these things helps to decrease the pain you are experiencing as a result of the exercise itself, stop the exercise.
2. If it helps, do it as often as you feel is necessary Exercise is movement-movement is health. When you find a movement that results in an immediate reduction in your pain, do it for as long as you are able and as frequently as you are able. The only reason to ignore this rule is if increased frequency increases the pain (see #1 above).
Good stuff. It's really a lot of common sense. But if you get it down, you can avoid injuring your low back by only doing the back exercises that make sense for you and avoiding the ones that don't.
If you live or work in San Francisco and would like to find out what low back exercises make sense for you, give Executive Express Chiropractic a call at 415-392-2225.
In Denver, you can reach Dr. Ron Spallone at 303-980-5699.