Daily stretching and strengthening is a good bet for preventing attacks of low back pain, according to the August 2013 issue of the Harvard Men's Health Watch. "An episode of acute low back pain is a call to action for people who are simply not exercisers," says Dr. Jeffrey N. Katz, professor of orthopedic surgery and medicine at Harvard Medical School and editor of Low Back Pain: Healing your aching back, a Special Health Report from Harvard Medical School. "It is a good time to make a commitment to exercise when you are starting to feel a bit better—typically in a few weeks."
Exercise is a good choice for low back pain due to muscle strain or muscle spasm. Daily gentle exercises will stretch and strengthen the muscles that support the lower spine. Stronger and more flexible muscles may be less prone to injury. If the pain traces to a problem in the spine, however, don't start a new exercise plan without talking to a doctor. Warning signs of a spinal problem are pain that radiates from the back down into the leg and a tingling "pins and needles" sensation.
So far, no specific type or level of exercise has been identified that works better than others for preventing low back pain. However, people who exercise regularly, compared with those who do not, tend to have fewer recurrences of back pain over time.
To continue reading this article, you must login
Subscribe to Harvard Health Online for immediate access to health news and information from Harvard Medical School.