After remaining pain-free for over two years and being able to exercise consistently, I want to share with you what I’ve been doing these past few years that has allowed me to remain pain-free.
You don’t have to follow exactly what I’m doing. My goal is to give you an overall idea of how to go about working out without constantly triggering pain. Also, I recently published a post on the 5 mistakes to avoid that cause lower back pain during exercise, as well as the 13 exercise form mistakes to avoid when working out.
Quick disclaimer: What I’m gonna be sharing is my personal routine. I’m hoping you’ll get some insights from it. If your doctor explicitly asked you not to exercise for a short period of time, listen to your doctor. Rest and recovery have their place.
I have a full summary of the video post below… You’ll find all the resources and supplements I mention below the video
My Fitness Routine After Back Pain
Full disclosure: this post contains Amazon affiliate links. I only mention products I personally use and recommend…and if you purchase from Amazon using my affiliate link, I get a small commission. You won’t pay more!
One thing is for sure…My current fitness routine changed dramatically.
Of course, throughout the past few years, I’ve evolved and gained more knowledge and experience as a coach. But the best knowledge came from listening to my body. I’ve been able to know what works and what doesn’t (for me).
Listen To Your Body
You have to know your body so well and figure out your current limits. Of course, you’ll gain more energy, more strength as you’re progressing. But right now…what are your limits? Once you know how much you can do before you start feeling pain, you’ll be able to structure workout routines that won’t trigger pain.
Don’t Push Beyond Exhausting Or Pain.
If I haven’t had enough food on a particular day and feel completely drained, or if I feel like I’m starting to get sick and feel weaker than usual… I’ll immediately take a break from my workout or switch to an easier lower impact form of exercise.
I Stopped Bulldozing my workouts. Before, I used to just push through everything. All I cared about was to get a killer workout each and every time.
I would lift heavy for an hour. Follow that by plyometrics. Then another high-intensity interval session on the Stairmaster. I did this each time I started to feel slightly better. I just couldn’t wait to get back to the gym so I can train hard.
Right now…I do almost no plyometrics. I lift heavy but I structure my workouts so that I have enough rest in between each workout to fully recover. I changed my interval training into low-impact high-intensity training.
Activation And Integration Warm-Ups
Currently, warming up is the most important part of my workout. I don’t walk on the treadmill or do any cardio machines…
My warm-ups include corrective exercises. I need to make sure all my muscles and joints are warmed up and ready for the challenge. I release the tight muscles with the foam roller, and I activate and integrate the stabilizing muscles before beginning my workout. I’ll link to a few tutorials at the end of this post…
You should also check out the Back Pain Bootcamp if you’d like to learn how to properly do this.
‘Smart’ Heavy Lifting
After a proper warm-up, I transition into a strength-based workout routine which lasts from 30 to 45 minutes. I structure my routines so that I’m not doing more than 4-5 exercises. My routines are VERY challenging but I stay within the 4-5 exercises range. Again, don’t forget to check out my post here on the 13 exercise form mistakes to avoid (they include bodyweight and weighted exercises).
I lift heavy weights (with proper form) and I make sure to rest for at least 2 minutes between each set. I usually also include a warm-up set and keep adding the intensity with heavier weights. But make sure to never sacrifice form.
My goal is to perform good quality repetitions with adequate rest to check-in and listen to my body.
Oh, and I leave my phone in my bag. The gym is my time. I want to connect with myself. Feel into my muscles. Tune into my body and just take a break from everything else.
In addition, texting just promoted a rounded back posture. I like to maintain proper posture throughout my workout.
I used to HATE cardio. But, I found a way to really enjoy it. Here’s what I do:
I get all my reading done during cardio and I don’t know what happens to time. It just flies by. My kindle reader has become my best companion, and I get so much reading done while doing a bit of cardio every day. This has been so helpful especially in the winter when walking outside, in -40 Celsius, is impossible.
Yes, I read physical books too. But, they’re not practical at the gym.
Another alternative is to listen to audiobooks through Audible. You can go through so many books when you’re working out, walking, doing housework. You can start the free trial here to see if you like it. (I believe you get a free book download with the free trial!)
I’ve been buying all my self-development and motivational books in Kindle format. One major benefit to having a Kindle device is the fact that it saves you so much space in your luggage when traveling. You can literally have thousands of books in your Kindle!
Here’s a link to check out the Kindle devices. I own a Kindle Voyage. There are many options too!
Oh…and you don’t have to buy a Kindle to read Kindle books. Amazon actually has a free Kindle software you can install on your computer or phone, and you can access and read all the Kindle books you buy – Kindle books are way cheaper than physical books. And you can even find books that are under $1 or free through the Kindle Unlimited Plan.
So if you feel like cardio is boring or exercise in general is boring, now you can use that time to read or listen to books!
Recovery To Stay Pain-Free
Alright, so you may be wondering what I do after I’m done. Well, I don’t rush into stretching. I let my body slow down on its own for a few minutes (10-15) before doing any stretching.
I also love using my acupressure mat to relax when I get home, after the shower. So it really depends on the workout, I’d either foam roll or use the acupressure mat as way to slow down and recover. I’d add some stretching before bed. I just get better results when I do it later on in the day vs right after the workout.
Nutrition To Stay Healthy
When it comes to nutrition, I keep it super simple.
I include as many anti-inflammatory foods as possible in my meals. I’ve also eliminated certain foods that, I found, increased inflammation in my body. For me, these foods are mainly beans, wheat, and anything deep-fried.
I don’t buy any packaged foods. The only packaged food I bought recently was a box of cauliflower pizza crust. One important rule I always follow is…
If I don’t recognize or can’t pronounce the ingredients on the label..I’m not buying it.
I also have 1-2 go to places for dining out that I trust. They’re very transparent with their ingredients and they’re okay with making adjustments or substitutions.
Overall, I make most of my meals at home. I keep things simple. I have the same breakfast (egg omelet with spinach and mushrooms). Lunch and dinner always include some type of meat, vegetables, and healthy fats. My go-to sources of carbohydrates are sweet potatoes and brown rice.
The key to being consistent with eating healthy is to keep things as simple as possible. Don’t complicate your meals. Every now and then I pick some new recipes from Pinterest for fun! But 80% of the time, I have about 4 go-to meals that I recycle.
The only fitness supplement I take is collagen protein. And I use it as a white flour substitute when I’m baking muffins, making pancakes or waffles. This is the collagen protein I use I use.
When it comes to other supplements, I’m currently taking spirulina, vitamin C, magnesium, and cod liver oil as well as ashwagandha. To make it super simple, I take them all at once in the morning. I also take probiotics on and off throughout the year.
My clients also know that I love Aloe Vera and I always add it to my smoothies…it’s an amazing anti-inflammatory food.
I know it may sound like I’m doing a lot but it’s all about being disciplined:
Personally, health is my number one priority. When I was living with chronic pain, every area of my life suffered. If you don’t take care of your health, you’ll have no energy to function at your best level. Discipline will help you stay consistent and build strong healthy habits you can rely on.
Working out is part of my life. The way I eat is a lifestyle. I don’t know any other way.
Hey! My name is Sofia and I’m here to help you eliminate lower back pain and piriformis syndrome without spending years in pain stuck in temporary fixes. Click here to learn more about me and how I can help you…