Just keep moving, even if it's only a few steps. That's what Robert learned is a key to helping his low back pain.
"I discovered that what you have to do is this: You do as much as you can."
Robert has been suffering with low back pain for more than 15 years. There have been several times when his back went out and he couldn't move off the couch for a while.
But over the years he's learned that getting active helps-a lot. And that's important, because he's a drug counselor, and his clients need him to be there for them.
The last time his back went out, he went to a friend who is a chiropractor.
"He was really good about getting me to do some strengthening exercises for the lower abs and lower back," Robert, now 45, says. "And he got me to the point where I could manage it at home."
Exercise was the key
Robert hasn't been back to the chiropractor for almost 3 years, not even after he hurt his back mowing the lawn last summer. He was out of commission for a few days, but "I got back into shape within about a week and a half," he says.
"I started out with icing my back, and alternating ice and heat, because that's what my chiropractor had me do before. Plus I'd do some stretches and some of the exercises that he had given me," Robert says.
"I did a couple days of that. On day three, I started to add some walking and some more exercise into my routine again. And then I really recovered quickly."
When his back starts to bother him, he realizes that he's been slacking off on his exercise routine. "So I start doing them again and then I'll feel better."
One step at a time
Now Robert is trying to make exercising a daily habit. His goal is to do his exercises every morning before breakfast and to take a half-hour walk every evening. But on the days he just doesn't feel like it, he doesn't beat himself up.