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Low Back Pain - Living With Low Back Pain

Stretch and strengthen your back

When you no longer have acute pain, you may be ready for gentle strengthening exercises for your stomach, back, and legs, and perhaps for some stretching exercises. Exercise may not only help decrease low back pain but also may help you recover faster, prevent reinjury to your back, and reduce the risk of disability from back pain.

Walking is the simplest and perhaps the best exercise for the low back. Your doctor or a physical therapist can recommend more specific exercises to help your back muscles get stronger. These may include a series of simple exercises called core stabilization. The muscles of your trunk, or core, support your spine. Strengthening these muscles can improve your posture, keep your body in better balance, and decrease your chance of injury.

actionset.gif Fitness: Increasing Core Stability
actionset.gif Low Back Pain: Exercises to Reduce Pain

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One Man's Story:

"I discovered that what you have to do is this: You do as much as you can."—Robert

Read more about how Robert controls his back pain by staying active.

Take care of stress

Stress and low back pain can create a vicious circle. You have back pain, and you begin to worry about it. This causes stress, and your back muscles begin to tense. Tense muscles make your back pain worse, and you worry more ... which makes your back worse ... and so on.

There are lots of ways to teach yourself to relax.

actionset.gif Stress Management: Practicing Yoga to Relax
actionset.gif Stress Management: Doing Guided Imagery to Relax
actionset.gif Stress Management: Breathing Exercises for Relaxation
actionset.gif Stress Management: Doing Progressive Muscle Relaxation
actionset.gif Stress Management: Relaxing Your Mind and Body
actionset.gif Stress Management: Managing Your Time
actionset.gif Stress Management: Doing Meditation

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One Woman's Story:

"I had too much to do and too little time. That means stress. And when I start stressing, my back starts aching. Before I knew it, my back was screaming at me."—Cathy

Read more about how Cathy made time to deal with her stress.

Manage your weight

Extra body weight, especially around the waist, may put strain on your back.

If you want to get to a healthy weight and stay there, lifestyle changes will work better than dieting.

Here are the three steps to reaching a healthy weight:

  • Eat ahealthy diethealthy diet.
  • Get moving. Try to make physical activity a regular part of your day, just like brushing your teeth. Start small, and build up over time. Moderate activity is safe for most people, but it's always a good idea to talk to your doctor before you start an exercise program.
  • Change your thinking. Our thoughts have a lot to do with how we feel and what we do. If you can stop your brain from telling you discouraging things and have it start encouraging you instead, you may be surprised at how much healthier you'll be—in mind and body.
    actionset.gif Weight Management: Stop Negative Thoughts
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WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: November 19, 2012
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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