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Old 11-11-2007, 10:37 AM   #1
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Default exercising with back pain - need suggestions


I've been dieting about 6 weeks now and the loss is slow. I know exercise will help but it seems every time I exercise a day or two I need to take a day or two off because of back issues. I have thoracic discogenic pain syndrome (how it gets to be a syndrome when it's just one messed up disc I don't know!) and standing and walking are the things most likely to cause pain. I do have a treadmill and an elliptical here at home and use them as much as I can. Unfortunately right now my back is in cranky mode and I'm trying to do some food preserving so am already spending a lot of time on my feet. I have to admit I hate talking about this because I feel whiny!

I'm looking for exercise ideas to try. Water aerobics won't work because chlorine causes problems for my sinuses and skin. What works for people? I'm willing to give just about anything a try

Maintaining 57 lb loss since 2008, working off regain to a sensible maintenance level.
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Old 11-11-2007, 11:01 AM   #2
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Hm, well, water aerobics and swimming really are the best things for exercising with pain. Can your doctor do anything about your sinuses/skin?
Failing that I would say anything that doesn't jar the spine - what about cycling, outdoors or on a stationary bike? That is very low impact.
Don't give up on this because exercise is so important - in school I was the kid who hated gym, but know my mind has totally changed and I would not stay slim - or sane - without it x
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Old 11-13-2007, 01:45 PM   #3
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Hi CyndiM, I have to say I'm in pretty much the same boat as you right now. I've been off my feet all month as well as the better part of last month, all because of back problems. I have a PARS defect and a couple of bulging discs that are almost always in "cranky mode". It's awful. Last week however, I went to the pain management clinic and was given several steroid injections... today the pain is gone! I've been up and walking around all day Maybe something like a lumbar epidural would work for you?
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Old 11-13-2007, 04:54 PM   #4
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walking is the only thing that helps my back, i have one disc out of alignment

we're all different, i guess
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Old 11-13-2007, 04:58 PM   #5
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Strech, strech, strech and lots of core exercise to srtengthen the abdominal muscles.
I would also suggest 1 day on 1 day off if you find that 2 days is too much. I like to walk, my siggi has a link to google pedometer. map out a walk and do what you can. Walking is excellent all around, I say do what you can and build up to more days.
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Old 11-13-2007, 05:36 PM   #6
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Good advice there by DIXIE! With spina bifida, lower back pain is a big issue; and I also have one or two discs higher up that give me problem as well. I agree: do gentle stretches daily, and rotate the other stuff bi-daily. I try to walk every day, even if it is shorter; walking too far will hurt your back; been there, done that. *** I heard a trainer once say, that it isn't how fast or how far you walk that matters; it's the length of time, over the whole week.

Doing stomach crunchies is a good idea; try them on a bed and only lift up a few inches at a time until you get better at it; this is much easier on your back. And, lay on your bed or a couch with knees up or down and squeeze (pull in) in your abdomen (stomach) and hold it for a count of seven. Repeat as you like; start with ten and go up as you want. You can do these daily; I find they have helped me a lot.

Be careful not to lift things that are too heavy, and don't bend over quickly down to the floor; that can agitate a disc or muscle problem. SQUAT down to pick things up instead: this will also help strengthen and tone your thighs at the same time. Rest when you need to; take mini-rests of 5 and 10 minutes in between all activities like housework, exercising, dancing and so on ....

These are a few of my favorite strategies; hope they are helpful to you. ROSEBUD
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Last edited by Justwant2Bhealthy; 11-13-2007 at 05:37 PM.
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Old 11-13-2007, 05:42 PM   #7
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6 weeks 16lbs loss. Darn you are doing great, don't expect so much out of yourself. Cheer for all you have accomplished. I have lower back problems. I can do the 1 mile walking videos Walk Away The lbs and Miracle Mile Walk with no problem. You might want to try simple walking videos.
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Last edited by Shy Moment; 11-13-2007 at 10:21 PM.
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Old 11-13-2007, 09:52 PM   #8
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Wow, thanks for all the suggestions! It's so helpful talking to people who get it. I have been experimenting with the Walk Away the Pounds DVDs and am having success with them so far. She breaks it up enough that the stress isn't too much for my back.

hellosizesix - They tried the epidural at the pain clinic here but no luck with it. They've got nothing at this point except narcotics so I'm going the alternative route - chiropractic and massage now, acupuncture and Pilates on the "to do" list.

L144S - I walk as much as I can anyway but walking really is the most painful thing for my back. I just keep reminding myself that it's referred pain and I'm not actually doing any damage. I'll try the one day on, one day off though and try not to get too judgmental about it. I am my own worst critic!

ROSEBUD - I'll try the crunches on the bed, thanks!

Shy - Thanks I'll need that when I weigh in tomorrow and have only lost another 1.5 lbs (just guessing!). It was all so much easier to do when I was younger!!!

Thanks to everyone!
Maintaining 57 lb loss since 2008, working off regain to a sensible maintenance level.
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Old 11-14-2007, 11:04 AM   #9
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I have back issues too - degenerative disc disease. I occasionally have sciatica because of this. I have learned that strengthening your core muscles helps alleviate some of the back pain, but you should see a physical therapist to get exercises for this and make sure that while treating one problem you are not causing another.

One great thing my physical therapist told me is that bikes are GREAT exercise tools for people with bad backs. First off, a cheap stationary bike cannot injure you like a cheap treadmill can (cheap treadmills "slip" and can cause you to lean forward to compensate without knowing it, causing you more back problems). My PT recommended a cheap stationary bike (its almost winter and I am in the north east) and said I should be able to find one for $100-200. He said a lot of them last a decent amount of time as well.
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Old 11-14-2007, 03:11 PM   #10
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I have a mildly degenerative disc from L2-L3. I have two moderately degenerative discs from L3-L4 and L4-L5. I have a severely degenerative disc from L5-S1. In other words, my lumbar spine is pretty much toast. I had one cortizone epidural in October, they didn't give me enough so they said I can have another epidural in December, once I come up with another $200 for the co-pay.

I'm on a muscle relaxant and an NSAID (not a narcotic). Know what Atkins said in his book about losing weight and being on a NSAID? Get off it. Now there's advice that is useless. It is very, very slow going trying to lose weight and be relatively pain free on the NSAID.

For ME the stationary bike drove my sciatica absolutely insane. I mean totally not worth the pain afterwards at all. Walking puts me into orbit. I can "stroll" short distances, but in order to exercise and get any distance in at all forget it. The one thing I can do and try to do twice a day is the elliptical. My physical limit is 35 minutes at a time. So I adjusted my workout to two sessions. I've been told that the elliptical has a lower perceived pain threshold, so users need to be careful that they don't overdo since it's harder to tell than on say a treadmill. My gym has two different kinds, I try to alternate between them. I'm finding the one I prefer can sometimes give me post exercise issues. Not something I want. In other words, you have to experiment a bit and find what works for you, your choices, your back and your abilities; be willing to keep experiementing. What worked at one time may not be the best after you reach better, higher fitness levels. I do try the stationary bike about once a month, and the treadmill. Just to see if anything has changed yet or not.

Try the video Yoga for the Rest of Us for the back. It's been helpful, when I find the time to do it. See what kind of exercises you can do to improve your core. The better the muscle support for the spine the less pain and discomfort. Whatever you do, do something! Doing nothing just makes the back worse and then everything starts on a very ugly downhill slide.
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Old 11-29-2007, 01:37 AM   #11
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Cyndi --

I've had back problems for a while, and they've recently gotten worse because of 2 car accidents within a week of each other (neither of which were my fault!! GRRRR)

I have found that swimming and dance REALLY REALLY work for me.

Swimming just because I've always LOVED being in the water and was a competitive swimmer for a while, but it's also NO-impact exercise!! Mind you, it IS definitely tough getting into the suit and getting into the pool when I'm not feeling great, but the feeling of weightlessness that accompanies being the the water is soooooooo relaxing on the back!!

Dance is a passion of mine, but I've also found that it teaches you to be really aware of your muscles and how you use them. I wasn't even aware of some muscles I had and how they supported my body until I started dancing. Now when my back hurts I have more control over which muscle groups I am using and can try to take the pressure off!!
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Old 12-01-2007, 10:29 AM   #12
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Hi All;

I had back surgery in 1994, when I was 25 years old. I had L4 disc removed and because I was so young, no fusion of L3 to L5. In July 2002, I popped L3and L5 whilst working out in the gym! I was doing bench presses. I too had epidurals and was able to walk again.

Since then, I have gained a lot of weight and have not been as active. I went through a series of Epidurals, which helped immensely BUT! I still have my weight, and I am carrying it on the pelvic girdle, which presses on my lower back.

I know the pain can be excrutiating; in 2004, I had another series of epidurals due to a slip and fall accident I had which left me unable to walk. I think the epidurals help, but!!! I now have degenerating discs, arthritis in my lower spine, and I am only 38 years old. Had I known what I know NOW, I would have never let the surgeon cut me. I was only 200 pounds then...Now I am 315 and the fattest I have ever been.
(Yes, I love myself, I just need to move more!)
Yes, I still have L3 and L5 sitting, sometimes, on the S1 nerve root, BUT! You can exercise and it will help alleviate the pain!

What I found helpful is stretching until I am completely warmed up and then I do pilates. I have been doing that for about a month now and feel my muscles getting stronger, especially in my lower back. And that helps the pain. I have been on and off the pilates band wagon and what I have found is when I do pilates and keep doing it, I feel so much better. My lower back isn't killing me, I can walk all over campus without getting that nagging ache in my spine and hips and I feel those muscles kicking into high gear.

I learned about pilates from a physical therapist that my dr. referred me to in 2002, after the first POP, as it were. O And YES! SWIMMING!

I know back pain is debilitating. I try not to let it rule my life. I used to use percocet and super high test muscle relaxers. Now, I take Excedrin Back and Body and stretch, do my pilates and I am feeling groovy!
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