By Jason Harms, MD
Q: How does spine health play a role in overall fitness?
In terms of overall fitness, spine health is at the foundation of any workout routine. When trainers and therapists talk about having a strong core, they’re talking about abdominal and paraspinal muscles, muscles that help prevent injury and protect your back. Critically, strengthening these muscles can also help treat and prevent low back pain. Those strong fundamentals can also translate to improved balance, gait and posture.
Q: If I am new to exercise, what precautions should I keep in mind regarding spine health?
Weight doesn’t matter; proper body mechanics do. As you begin to workout—especially if you’re exercising on your own—focus on technique, not reps, distance or weight. Remember, body mechanics matter just as much while squatting as they do during a spin class. Hunching over those handlebars will hurt your back in the long run, sometimes just as much as improper form during a squat.
Q: Should I see a doctor before I begin my fitness regimen if I have persistent back pain?
Absolutely. Most back pain is simply a combination of poor posture, weak core muscles and mild degenerative changes. However, that’s not always the case, and so beginning a workout routine with chronic back pain can lead to the worsening of your pain and can prevent you from reaching your exercise goals.
Q: If I have moderate back pain and want to strengthen my back, what exercises should I incorporate into my routine?
I would recommend discussing this in consultation with your doctor and a physical therapist. Certain exercises are better suited to different problems with your back, and this is a decision best guided by someone who knows you, your goals and is familiar with the medical condition of your spine.
Q: Can spine health improve with the right fitness program?
Absolutely! From core strengthening to cardio, your spine health and overall health can be improved with the right exercise program.
Jason Harms, MD, received his medical degree from the Medical College of Georgia at Augusta University. He completed his residency in orthopaedic surgery at Augusta University (formerly Medical College of Georgia) in Augusta, Georgia. Dr. Harms went on to complete a fellowship in spinal surgery at West Virginia University in Morgantown, West Virginia. Dr. Harms practices at Resurgens Orthopaedics’ Johns Creek office.
Resurgens Spine Center • Non-surgical & Surgical Spine Care 24 Convenient Atlanta Locations • www.ResurgensSpine.com