When experiencing pain (especially in your back), the most common response can be to immobilize, rest or relax to avoid causing further pain. That may or may not be the best response, depending on the cause of the pain. Myeloma patients have to take extra precautions when strength training, especially if you have known bone damage. Please discuss any new exercise program with your doctor prior to starting.
Knowing if you have injured yourself or just have soreness from exercising muscles is important when starting an exercise program, or increasing activity. Delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) is a post-exercise soreness. DOMS usually presents itself a few days after starting a new program, increasing load, or increasing intensity. Muscles can become sore to touch or move and stretching can feel tight and difficult. If you experience this type of soreness it is okay to continue to exercise. Performing light exercises, stretching and adding massage can help increase blood flow to improve the soreness.
Pain that is sharp, pinpoint (meaning you can touch a single spot of pain, not spread through the entire muscle group) could be an injury. If this pain is accompanied by redness, swelling or bruising these may be symptoms of an injury. Be mindful of your pain and what’s accompanied.
Finally there is pain from aching and weak muscles. This often causes people to slow down and stop engaging in activity, however strength training can actually decrease pain over time. When performing strength exercises with correct form and in safe conditions, there can be an added benefit to improving back pain, as well as functions.
Weight training exercises can help your back health by:
Increasing muscles endurance and reducing fatigue
Increase the overall function of your back and core
Improve overall strength
Increase the range of motion in your spine (especially when included with yoga)
Decreasing body fat, which decreases overall weight load on your back
When talking about safe conditions with strength training I’m suggesting that you start slow and low. It’s not a race to complete each exercise. Start slow and be mindful of how the movement feels. Starting low means to start with lower weight ranges. If you are using weights, go with the lightest possible weight before moving up. Exercises can also be performed with no weight and still gain benefit.
Start with smaller weights and slow movement to not jerk your back
If you have access to a gym or weight machines, using the machine instead of free weights can help keep correct form and reduce the load on your back
Start your exercise routine with walking or biking to increase blood flow to your soft tissues (muscles), can reduce soreness
Aim for strength training 2-3 days a week - be consistent for most benefit
Focus on exercises that improve your major core muscles (back, abdominals, obliques)
Resistance bands at home are just as good as hitting the gym, so if you don’t feel safe or comfortable at the gym you can exercise from home
Avoid exercises that involve abrupt or extreme movement (jumping, sudden twists)
Some soreness is okay and can be expected - if it’s sharp and sudden then stop right away
The key take away is that you can try adding strength training into your routine. By doing so you can improve your back health through increasing muscular strength in your back and supporting muscles.
about the author
Linnley joined HealthTree in January 2020 as the Fitness Events Manager. Her husband is a childhood cancer survivor as well as a cancer biologist. Finding a cure, better treatments, and balance through treatments is what drives their family. Linnley is an Advanced Cancer Exercise Specialist and focuses on finding what you can do rather than can't.