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Prevent Back Pain

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Get More Strength and Flexibility

Whether your pain is a red-hot burn or a gentle simmer, its very existence is a sure sign that you've got some work to do on your body. Specifically, you need more strength and flexibility in your core, hips, and thighs. "This combination is key for pain relief and avoidance of future back injuries," says chiropractor Todd Sinett, author of The Truth About Back Pain.

If your pain charts a 7 or higher on the 0 to 10 scale, the safest, most effective way to break a sweat is with a physical therapist. (Ask your doc for a recommendation.) A study released earlier this year found that one month of PT, coupled with homework exercises, increased mobility significantly more than working out at home alone.

After a go-ahead from your doctor or therapist, dust off the yoga mat. A six-month study found that viniyoga, a therapeutic style, beats a back-focused exercise class when it comes to curing pain. (Bonus: At six months, only 21 percent of yoga students still took pain meds, compared with 50 percent of the exercising group.) But don't cue up your power-yoga DVD just yet; the moves in this study were created for yoga newbies in pain. To find out if they could work for you, check out The 8-Minute Better-Back Workout, a custom series designed just for FITNESS by Robin Rothenberg, the study's yoga teacher.

 

Originally published in FITNESS magazine, August 2008.

 

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