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"I have back pain, do I have to stop training, or can I get around it?"
-Carl P., San Antonio
This is what happens with back pain: Many times, the back is not the issue. Pain is often the result of weakness in some other part of your body. So the best option is to stay active-even if only at a low intensity-to try to solve your problem. Rarely should you stop exercising because of back pain, because doing some type of exercise will help you feel better, both in the short and long term. When you treat back pain, a simple foam roller mix and light activity will improve blood flow throughout the body, nourishing muscle tissues and releasing endorphins that help you feel better. Try these two exercises to see if you can do much more. If the pain persists, consult your doctor.
Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat. Lift your hips until your body forms a straight line from the shoulders to the knees. Hold the position for 5 seconds, and return to the starting position. Perform two or three sets of 10 to 12 repetitions, resting for 30 to 60 seconds between sets.
Hip Flexor Stretch
Kneel on the left knee, squeeze the left gluteus and strengthen the abdominal muscles, keeping the body erect. Then stretch your arm with your left hand as high as you can and bend slightly to the right. Stretch your arm and look back with your right hand, turn it to the right. Hold this stretch for 30 seconds. Then, repeat it with the other leg. Perform five repetitions on each side.
Mike Robertson, CSCS, is the co-owner of Indianapolis Fitness and Sports Training.