best low-impact cardio

9 of the Best Low-Impact Cardio Workouts to Relieve Back Pain

Does your back pain have you feeling down or making it hard for you to live out your life normally? While you may need professional help get you completely back on your feet, there are a few things that you can do to relieve some symptoms of pain right from home.

You just need to find the best low-impact cardio exercise for your spine. You have many options available to you, and all of them are good and simple to do. So, grab a mat, head to a pool, or hop on a bike, here are some of the best cardio workouts for your pain.  

1. Swimming

As you most likely know, you’re a lot lighter when you’re in a body of water. This is because of the water’s buoyancy. This buoyancy also does wonders for your back because it relieves the earth’s pull on your spine. 

This makes swimming the best low-impact cardio exercise around. The best strokes to do are the back and side ones. Stay away from the breaststroke because that will just make things worse. 

You can also try running along the bottom of the pool. While the effects of swimming are most effective when you are more than waist deep in the water, running helps too. 

2. Elliptical Training 

Using an elliptical can be an intense workout but it’s still a pretty low-impact one in terms of back pain. This is because it’s not very jarring and it allows your legs to move in an oval motion rather than striking the same path every single time. 

You also get a little bit of customization depending on what you want to get out of the workout. For example, you can adjust how much peddle resistance you have or if your upper back is what’s ailing you then you can choose a machine with moving handlebars to give it more attention. 

You’ll be able to choose from a standing or seated elliptical machine. A standing one allows you to keep up a good posture while you workout, so it’s the best for straightening out back pain. At the same time, the seated one can give you a little lumbar support and take some pressure off your spine. 

3. Cycling 

Outdoor biking is a little rough on your back because the holes and loose rocks on your path make for sort of a bumpy ride. Cycling inside helps you get the benefits of riding a bike but without all of these obstacles.  

You can choose an upright stationary bike or one that leans back. The upright one helps you stay in good posture while the one that leans back can provide you with a little comfort. 

Stationary bikes also break smoother than any outdoor bike that you could ride. If you’re looking for this smooth sort of ride, then you should look into a bike with magnetic resistance. 

4. Walking 

Walking isn’t the most low-impact thing that you could do but it can help if you have chronic back pain because it’s still rather gentle. To get the full impact of the exercise, make sure to walk at least three miles a few times a week. 

The other good thing about walking is that you don’t need equipment or even a gym membership. Just a pair of high-quality shoes and a path. 

5. Spine Stretch 

For these last few exercises, you’re going to need to pull out the yoga mat. To do the spine stretch you’ll need to grab a pillow and put it behind your head as you lay down on the floor on your back. Bend your knees together and move them to the side.

Move your pelvis soon after your knees while being sure to keep your shoulders on the ground. Do this about eight times while alternating sides. Do not do this exercise if you have a herniated disk

6. Bird Dog 

While your back is recovering it’s important that you mobilize it often. Doing the bird dog exercise will do just that. Get down on all fours, being sure to keep your hands under your shoulders and your knees under your hips. 

Keep your spine in a neutral position with your head in line with it.  Slowly extend one of your legs and the arm opposite of it. You’re going to hold this position for 15 seconds or so and then switch. 

7. Bridge 

If the above exercise isn’t for you, another one that can sort of provide the same effects is the bridge. Lay down on your back while keeping your knees bent and your feet hip distance apart. Lift your hips off the floor and keep lifting until your hips and knees are in a line. 

Keep doing this about 8 times. It’s a fairly simple exercise but you’ll find that it will help ease some of your back pain. 

8. Pelvic Tilts

Pelvic tilts are going to start about the same way that the spine stretch did. Lay on your back with a pillow under your head and bend your knees. Keep your feet apart, your body relaxed, and your chin tucked in.

Contract your stomach muscles and then move your pelvis toward your heels until you feel your back arch. Repeat this process about 8 times. 

9. Lower Back Stretch 

To do the lower back stretch, get on all fours again while making sure to not lock up your elbows. Your knees should be under your hips and your hands under your shoulders. 

You’re going to slowly move your lower half toward your heels and hold yourself there for about 20 seconds.  

Speed Up Your Recovery with These Best Low-Impact Cardio Workouts

If you want to speed up your back recovery or even just relieve a little bit of pain then you’ll need to pick out a few low-impact cardio workouts. Use the ones listed above to take your life back and have fun while you do it. 

Does it turn out that you need back surgery? We can handle it. Book an appointment with us today. 

back pain at work

Beat the Hunch: How to Relieve Back Pain at Work

Given that 20% of Americans report having some kind of back problems, it’s important for everyone to pay attention to their back health during the day. One of the places you can hurt your back is while you’re at work, even if you don’t have a strenuous job. As more people sit down throughout the day at a desk, back pain at work has actually increased.

Here are five ways to beat back pain while you’re at your office.

1. Focus on Posture

Even while you’re sitting, you could be damaging your spine and back with bad posture. This positioning can lead you to suffer discomfort while walking or running, just because you sat the wrong way.

While you’re sitting, you need to keep your feet flat on the ground. If you’re sitting at a desk, you should keep your head in a neutral position with your ears over and directly above your shoulders. This ensures that your whole body, from top to bottom, is in a position that’s healthy for you.

You need your weight equally distributed throughout your body as you’re seated. Your bones put weight on your hips and you need the lower portions of hips to only take as much pressure as they need to.

When you round your lower back, your head and your shoulders are going to slump forward.

Make sure your chair’s height is at the right height. Your thighs should be angled down only slightly. This manages to keep your weight distributed throughout the bones you’re sitting on.

2. Adjust Your Monitor and Keyboard

Where your monitor and keyboard are located makes a big difference in how your back feels. You need to be looking in the right direction and have your tools in the right spot to work comfortably.

Your monitor should be level with your nose. With a monitor too low, you’re going to have your had angled down and put stress on your neck. Working with a laptop is a challenge, so use a second monitor if it’s possible.

Your keyboard needs to be close enough to keep your elbows at a 90-degree angle. No matter how fast you type or how comfortable you might be in another position, your elbow must be at 90 degrees for good posture.

Notice if you start slumping down via your shoulders to touch the keys. If you notice you’re doing this, then you need to reposition things. Put your mouse at the same level as your keyboard, elevating it if necessary.

3. Take Time To Stand

While it might seem odd, having a standing desk setup or an adjustable desktop that allows you to stand could make a big difference in your health and comfort. Our bodies were designed to walk through most of the day, foraging, hunting, and running around. Sitting in a chair can be a relief after a long day but it’s not the ideal way to treat your body.

Consider other ways to move that do more for your posture. If you’re able to spend an hour or two standing during the day, try that for better back health.

More people are using standing desks to get more out of their workspace. However, that’s not an option of everyone. There are desktop converters to allow you to turn your desk into a standing set up and back easily.

If you have a conversion setup, you have flexibility and can go back and forth as you need to.

4. Stay off the Phone

If you’re using your phone for more than calls throughout the day, you’re going to suffer problems with your back. People have a natural tendency to bend their head down when they’re using a phone or a tablet. When using a touchscreen, notice how you hold your body in front of the screen.

When you hold your head forward, you’ll end up with painful muscle strains over a short term period. If you do so over a long term period, you’ll find that you could end up with a disc or join problem. The longer you hold that position, the more likely you are to suffer a permanent injury to your body.

If you’re responding to emails or doing a quick bit of research, switch over to a desktop computer whenever possible. You’ll save your spine and stay more comfortable throughout your workday.

5. Keep it Moving

If you’re sitting at a desk all day, you’re going to suffer from persistent muscle or back issues. instead of sitting around, get up and move your body ever half an hour or so. This has proven to reduce back and neck issues.

If you’re suffering from back problems or soreness, consider getting out of your chair.

If you have trouble remembering, set a silent alarm to remind yourself to get out of your chair. While it might not be possible to get up each time the alarm goes off, it’s helpful to set it in such a way where you can hit snooze. If you’re able to keep your schedule, you’ll be able to stretch and avoid pain.

If it’s too hard for you to walk, you might need to see a chiropractor. People won don’t seek help or put these changes into place soon enough are likely to deal with long term issues.

Back Pain At Work is a Serious Problem

If you’re suffering back pain at work, take it seriously even if you don’t work a stressful job. You could be suffering avoidable problems that you still have the chance to correct. If you take some action now, you’ll avoid expensive surgery later.

If you want to give back pain the one-two punch, check out this guide for foods that help fight back pain.

back pain causes

Finding the Source: 7 of the Most Common Causes of Back Pain

How long have you had your mattress? Be honest…

If you can’t remember the last time you got a new mattress, it’s time to hit the furniture store. 

Why? Because sleeping on an old mattress is killer on your back.

But a bad mattress isn’t the only thing that can put your back in a bad mood. Lots of other lifestyle factors and medical issues cause back pain. And it’s important to know those causes so you can do your best to prevent back injuries in the future.

In this article, we’ll take a closer look at 7 of the most common back pain causes and what you can do to prevent them.

Common Back Pain Causes

There are certain risk factors that make you more susceptible to back problems. People who are overweight are more at risk. And if you’re not moving around much, you’re more likely to injure your back. 

If you work in a job that requires heavy lifting or long periods of standing on your feet, you’re more likely to have spine pain. And as you age, you might develop back pain because of wear and tear on your muscles and spine.

Knowing your risk factors can help you prevent back injuries. But no matter how much you work to prevent them, there’s still a chance you’ll experience problems at some point during your life. Now let’s look at the 7 most common causes of back injuries. 

1. Slouching

The way you hold up your body affects back health. Working long hours at a desk without taking a break can cause you back pain. And if you do this over a lifetime, it can compound into more serious issues like herniated discs and arthritis.

Also, bending your neck forward too much can make your back to hurt. This is a problem called text neck. And it’s a serious issue affecting many smartphone users today. 

To prevent this, pay special attention to your posture. Take breaks from sitting and walk around. And put your smartphone away before your neck gets tired.

2. Overuse

Sometimes, your back hurts because of a good, old-fashioned muscle injury. Muscle pulls and strains come about most often because of overuse. 

It’s more likely to happen when you do exercises that you aren’t used to. Like when you haven’t played basketball in 10 years and you decide to join a game at the gym. The bending, reaching, and twisting can cause you to injure yourself. 

But even seasoned athletes can overdo it and strain the muscles in their backs. Be aware of how your back feels while you’re exercising. Stop at the first sign of back pain to prevent further injury.

3. A Bad Mattress

We already mentioned this briefly, but let’s dive into your bedroom routine. You should replace your mattress at least every 10 years. But this isn’t a hard and fast rule.

Every person sleeps differently on their mattress. And every mattress wears differently. If you’re already having back problems, consider getting a new mattress sooner rather than later.

And consider upgrading your pillows too. Pillows bear the responsibility of holding up your head and keeping your neck in alignment. Old, flat pillows are just as likely to cause back problems as your mattress.

4. Arthritis

The most common form of arthritis is osteoarthritis. And lumbar arthritis happens when you develop osteoarthritis in your back. Over time, the cartilage in the joints wears down.

Without that cartilage, you lose range of motion, making the movement more painful. And it puts more stress on your nerves.

Prevent arthritis by maintaining a healthy weight and exercising. Also, eat a diet rich in foods that fight back pain.  

5. Osteoporosis

Osteoporosis develops when our bones lose minerals and weaken over time. The pain isn’t caused by the disease itself. It’s caused by tiny fractures in the bones of the spine that happen because the bones are so weak.

These fractures occur suddenly. You’ll notice a new pain in your spine because of a certain movement, even from a cough or sneeze. 

Unfortunately, many people (women especially) are prone to developing osteoporosis. But preventative measures like eating foods rich in calcium and vitamin D are helpful. And weight-bearing exercises strengthen bones and prevent or prolong osteoporosis development.

6. Disc Problems

Each vertebra is separated from its neighbors by spongy discs. These discs are little fluid-filled sacs that provide a cushion for the bones around them. As you age, or if you suffer a spinal injury, these discs can get injured too. 

A bulging disc happens when the disc slips out of place and sticks out further on one side of the spine. This puts pressure on the nerves around the disc. 

A ruptured disc occurs when aging or trauma causes the tear, releasing the fluid inside. This means the disc won’t provide as much cushion to the bones as it should. And that also means more pressure on the nerves in the area. 

Prevent disc problems by regularly stretching your back. Also, using proper lifting techniques helps. And, of course, regular exercise keeps the back strong enough to shield the discs from injury.

7. Sciatica 

Your sciatic nerve is the longest nerve in your body. It runs from the lower back down through your hips and thighs, all the way to your feet. Sciatica is when that nerve becomes pinched or inflamed.

This is usually caused by a bulging disc as we mentioned before. But it can also come from bone spurs or hip and back injuries.

Sciatica pain starts in the lower back and can spread down into the legs and feet. It may be sharp or dull, depending on how much pressure is on the nerve. 

Prevent sciatica by doing the same things you’d do to prevent a bulging or ruptured disc, as these are the most common causes of sciatica. 

Treat Back Pain ASAP

Many people experience back pain at some point in their lives. These back pain causes are some of the most common. You can prevent these issues by maintaining a healthy weight, keeping good posture, and exercising.

But remember, it’s not normal to have back pain. If you do suffer from back problems, get it looked at asap. It might be a sign of something worse. 

At Executive Spine Surgery, we take a multidisciplinary approach to give you the best possible treatment for back pain. Visit our website to book your appointment online to see Dr. Spivak.

Don’t live with back pain anymore. Get it treated now!

how to tell if you have scoliosis

How to Tell If You Have Scoliosis on Your Own

Do you have lower back pain like there’s no tomorrow?

If the answer is yes, you might have scoliosis. That’s right – adults have scoliosis too.

And 80% of the time, doctors don’t actually know what causes scoliosis. 3 out of the 4 types usually make themselves known between infancy and young adult age.

Neuromuscular scoliosis is caused by neuromuscular disorders. And Idiopathic scoliosis’ cause is unknown.

Congenital scoliosis develops inside the womb although often times it isn’t diagnosed until children are older. 

Their vertebrae become more and more curved over time due to tiny bones not developing properly to begin with.

But you’re a functioning adult! Could scoliosis have been hiding in your vertebrae all this time?

Yes. Or, you might have degenerative scoliosis, which, unfortunately, is a result of aging as your bones and your spine wear out over time.

Don’t fret – there are solutions and treatment that may be able to help. But first, find how to tell if you have scoliosis symptoms.

Here’s How to Tell If You Have Scoliosis

Do you recognize any of these signs? Pinpoint any symptoms you have and perform a couple of easy at-home tests to determine if you might have scoliosis pain.

1. You Have Back Pain 

Do you have worsening pain in your lower back that is beginning to interfere with your activities? Or is it chronic? Has it already taken over your life to the point of preventing you from performing simple tasks in your everyday life?

Do you experience numbness any numbness in your legs? Do you experience cramping or shooting pain in your legs or other parts if your body? Those muscles could be straining to overcompensate for the bones and muscles that are causing you pain in the first place.

Are you unusually tired or exhausted? Are you unable to perform physical activities that you could do before?

2. You Have Uneven Shoulders, Hips, or Legs

Do you see a difference when you look in the mirror? Are you clothes starting to hang onto one side or do your shirts tend to fall off one shoulder?

What about your pants? Does one leg have a shorter break in the material? Do you find yourself limping around, even slightly? 

Grab a friend and perform the “Adam’s Bend Test” in order to determine if your potential scoliosis is functional or structural. Ask your friend to also take a look at your shoulders, hips, and the way your clothes fall to determine if they notice any interruption in your body’s symmetry.

3. You’ve Been Experiencing Shortness of Breath

If your scoliosis has reached a certain curvature, it may be affecting your lung function, especially during increased physical activity.

This can also cause chest pain as your lungs are not able to perform at their fullest potential. Eventually, this could lead to serious breathing problems, and if not treated, even heart failure.

4. Your Eyes and Ears Are Different

Stand sideways in a mirror. Get someone to look and see if your ears seem to be ahead of your shoulders? If you’re alone at the moment, take a photo on a timer.

What about your eyes? If you stand in front of a mirror, are the center of your eyes in line with the center of your hips? If they’re tilted at all in any direction, this could be a sign of scoliosis.

Do You Have the Symptoms?

Maybe you do, but that doesn’t tell you everything.

Even if any of these scoliosis symptoms ring true for you, yours could still be minor scoliosis. The sooner you consult with a doctor, the better chance you have of treating your condition.

Most people have a natural slight curve in their spine. But side to side curves that twist the spine are what define scoliosis. 

It’s when those curves keep growing deeper that major issues arise.

Where Do You Go from Here?

Well, if you have any of these symptoms, talk to one of our doctors and find out if you’re a candidate for treatment. 

And take a breather. Often times, scoliosis can be easily treated with lifestyle changes. For example, exercise or a back brace can help the spine realign itself.

Some exercises that may help are: 

  • Bend and stretch in the same direction as your curve
  • Hang from any bar as for as long as you can, and do it again.
  • Crunches and reverse crunches
  • Squats
  • Lay with a rolled pillow behind your neck and one under your back

Exercise is not necessarily a cure on its own so make sure you check with your doctor first.

Act Before It Gets Worse

Many patients do need surgery to correct their spines. And that’s why minimally invasive surgery is both the safest and most effective option.

And you’ve got nothing to lose! Get a free MRI review to see if you are a candidate for treatment. You’ll be one step closer to getting rid of your scoliosis pain.

Diet and Exercise Play a Role in Everything

Even if you do need surgery, diet and exercise can help keep you on the right track towards bettering your health and mobility. To start, some foods that may help fight your back pain are:

  • Olive oil
  • Sweet potato
  • Caffeine
  • Carrots
  • Tomatoes
  • Fatty fish like salmon
  • Berries and nuts

They’ll help fight inflammation and help you on your journey to conquer your scoliosis.

Meeting with the Doc

When you meet with the doctor, he might begin with a test like the “Adam’s Bend Test” in order to asses your spine alignment and to determine if x-rays are necessary.

X-Rays can confirm scoliosis and also detect the gravity of the condition. MRI’s may also be requested for further information and confirmation.

A doctor will want to know medical history, any previous diagnoses, and any and all symptoms you’ve been experiencing.

Be prepared with all of your questions and answers.

Be Objective

In assessing your pain and symptoms, make sure you take your time and stay objective. And for tests you can’t perform yourself, ask a friend or a relative to help determine how to tell if you have scoliosis.

Start eating healthy and do exercises and stretches that will begin to reverse your scoliosis.

Find a doctor you can trust who is certified and uses minimally invasive procedures with operational methods as a last resort.