5 Proven Tips to Help You Recover From a Back Injury Faster

What to do, and what not to do to heal that back.

We can all probably agree that back injuries are a major pain. SSoD Trainer Sam and her friend Caroline Jordan from Caroline Jordan Fitness have both had major back injuries. They’re here to give us a path out of the pain, by sharing how they healed on their own.

Sam had a triple disc compression and stress fracture, while Caroline suffered from a lower lumbar strain. Not only were their fitness routines impacted, but activities of daily living (cooking, cleaning, bathing, getting in and out of a car) were severely impacted.

To get back to pain-free within TWO weeks, Sam used her mobility routine that can be found here in the SSoD library, along with chiropractic treatment and inversion, plus these tips. Staying still is the opposite of what we need following most injuries. Over-rest can compound the injury or, by overcompensating with other areas of the body, can shift the pain elsewhere.

Be smart, starting with gentle movement and light mobility. That means starting small like regularly standing up from your office chair and sitting back down. It probably does not mean going on a 5-mile hike. Try using a chair or bar/wall for assistance when starting new movements.

Exercise may shorten recovery from back injuries. Always check with a Health Professional first.

5 Tips for Healing your Back:

  1. Consistency – Regular movement 3-5 times per week helps build strength and range of motion. Pain is a motivator. When you hurt, you want to fix it. Consistent movement helps decrease the chances of injury and muscle atrophy. Sam did her “secret sauce” video daily following her injury, and now she continues it at least once a week for maintenance.
  2. Mobility – If you sit all the time, you will likely get stiff. Spending too much time in one position, your body can “forget” how to use opposite movements. Caroline’s injury was directly related to stiff hip flexors, so hip-opening stretches increase her mobility and decrease the chance of recurring injury.
  3. Strength Training – But wait. If you just injured your back, it seems like the last thing you should be doing is back extensions, right?! Sam at first thought that, but in working with a trainer she trusted, she gave it a try. The key she found was to be certain you can differentiate between muscle ache and nerve or injury pain.
    Check with a Health Professional for approval to start strength training.
  4. Find the Right Support – If you just broke your back, avoid starting to rehab on your own. Do research to find a fitness professional who has experience with back injuries. How you do a move matters and a trainer supervising can help you make small changes that benefit your back and reduce your pain. Your training program should be a balance of mobility and strength training (always with a good warm-up and cool-down). Combine Yoga/Pilates with strength training so you’re working your small and large muscles. We need our whole body strong and balanced to feel our best.
  5. Rest – Balance is the key, so always make time to recover and restore. Caroline reminds us that, “Sleep is the best supplement you can take.” Everyone is different, so adjust your fitness level to respect your body. In the first two weeks after a back injury, you may want to slowly start with gentle movement, and try Sam’s mobility video just every other day. Listen to your body (and your health professional) and adapt as you need to.

With these tips, we hope you can keep a short-term injury from turning into a long-term issue. And for a whole library of workouts to help keep your body healthy, whatever your fitness level, check out a Free Trial over on Studio SWEAT onDemand! Download the app, or if you happen to live in southern California, visit us in our San Diego studio.