Instruction in self-care, which includes regular exercise, is a key part of treatment that occupational therapists recommend to help keep you functioning as best as possible. Chronic back pain isn't easy to live with and can interfere with your job productivity and ability to perform other daily activities of living.
With over 130 million people in this country suffering from some form of chronic or recurring pain, occupational therapy treatment focuses on finding ways to help you manage your pain more effectively without overusing or depending on pain medications for relief.
How Exercise Can Help
An occupational therapist will set up a fitness and exercise program for you that you can continue to follow at home. Exercises will focus on increasing strength, flexibility, and range of joint motion.
The therapist will have you start out slowly and then gradually increase both the intensity and duration of your workouts. Avoid holding your breath as you exercise; otherwise, your muscles will tighten and tense. Tight muscles can lead to muscle stiffness, which may cause more pain and decrease range of motion in your joints.
Use of Exercise Machines
Even if your occupational therapist has you begin by lifting light weights or working with resistance bands, you need to increase the resistance to increase your strength level. If part of your exercise program includes working out on weight machines at an outpatient occupational and physical therapy clinic or a local gym, slowly increasing the resistance level makes your muscles work harder.
Weak muscles can't do an effective job at supporting your body in motion; therefore, your occupational therapist may recommend the use of both free weights and weight machines to strengthen your body and reduce back pain. But since strong back muscles alone can't prevent back problems and pain, you need to strengthen the muscles throughout your body.
What an Elliptical Machine Targets
If you work a job that requires heavy or repetitive lifting, strong lower body muscles allow you to lift with your legs, which puts less pressure on your back. Elliptical exercise machines not only give you an effective cardio workout, but they also work different muscle groups to make them stronger. Although you can adjust the resistance settings, the use of elliptical machines doesn't put a lot of stress on your back during exercise.
What a Stationary Bike Targets
Stationary bikes offer another way to strengthen your lower body. If you suffer back pain from osteoarthritis, your occupational or physical therapist may suggest that you use an upright exercise bike. But if you have lower back pain, a recumbent bike with a backrest will give you more support.
What Weight Machines Target
Since exercise bikes only work to strengthen the lower body, you will need to include weight machines in your workout regimen that strengthen the muscles in your upper body. The incline press weight machine works the muscles in your arms and chest, whereas the lat pull down machine simulates chin-ups, working the muscles in your upper arms, shoulders, and upper back. As with any exercise machine, as your strength increases, you can adjust the weights to increase the resistance.
For more help, speak with an occupational therapist such as those represented at http://www.advancedphysicaltherapyofsj.com.