There are a number of opinions from various sources as to how a trampoline affects the lower back. Some people believe it to be safe and even beneficial while others consider trampolining something that will only exacerbate pre-existing problems. The fact of the matter is, there are a number of different causes of back pain and working on a trampoline might help some and worsen others. First, it’s important to understand what might cause lower back pain.
Low Back Pain Causes
There are several things that can cause low back problems. According to orthopedic doctors, about 80% of people will suffer from low back problems at some point in their life, and a significant portion of those will have “chronic” low back pain, meaning that it affects their lives for more than three months continuously.
Among the most common causes of low back pain is degenerative or herniated discs. Your spinal column is not solid: it is made of a number of small bones that are separated by spongy tissue called “discs” to allow them to bend without rubbing themselves apart. When one of these discs starts to degrade or becomes inflamed, it can result in significant low back problems.
Because of the nature of disc issues, an activity like trampolining might not be the best idea because it forces the back muscles to tighten in order to protect the spine which can cause further damage.
Spondylolisthesis, on the other hand, can be helped immensely by rebounding or working out on the trampoline. This particular condition is caused by the normal wear and tear on joints and ligaments over time becoming so bad that they can no longer hold the parts of your spine where they should be. This results in your vertebrae falling down and rubbing against one another, wearing them away, pinching nerves, and causing further damage.
Using a trampoline to work out can not only strengthen your core muscles so that they can better hold your spine in place, it can also keep those ligaments in better shape and prevent them from allowing your spine to collapse on itself.
Similarly, the bone building properties of trampoline exercises can help with osteoporosis that puts pressure on the bones in your spine and even causes them to fracture over time.
How Trampolining Can Help
The reason why these are often blamed for low back problems is that there are a number of ways that your back is engaged while working on a trampoline. As mentioned above, you instinctively start to tighten your core muscles while jumping in order to improve your balance and protect your spine from vibrations caused by impact with the ground.
Similarly, the pressure from that impact is distributed over the entire body in a relatively even way. That means that while running will put all of the weight and effects of gravity on the feet, ankles, and legs, trampolining will distribute some of that to the back, neck, shoulders, and head.
While that is certainly the case, it does promote a more balanced approach to working out and prevents injuries to parts of the body that would otherwise have the take the full force of any impacts with hard surfaces. Further, by distributing the energy evenly, it keeps too much impact from affecting any particular area of the body.
This can be incredibly helpful if you have a number of different issues that you have to deal with and can’t afford to allow any given area to take too much punishment. It can help build muscles up evenly and strengthen bones as well.
Is It Safe or Not?
This is not a question that is easy to answer. It can be safe and even beneficial given the right exercises and for certain conditions, and a terrible idea for others.
In most cases, it’s best to consult with a doctor before starting a regular trampolining routine if you have chronic back pain. Try to identify the problem and ask whether a rebounder or trampoline is likely to exacerbate it.
Trampolines and rebounders can make for great, fun, and incredibly effective exercise, but the first step should always be making sure that you’re safe.