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Simple exercises for back and knee pain

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SUGAR LAND, Texas (FOX 26) -

Back pain haunts a lot of people, including one FOX 26 viewer. He agreed to share his story with FOX 26 Morning News to show an exercise that has really helped him. FOX 26 met up with Dr. Kenneth Lee and a trainer at the Robert Horry's Center for Sports Rehabilitation in Sugar Land, a division of University General Hospital.

Marty Appelbaum has been suffering off and on from back pain for 20 years.

"Originally, I bent over, felt a pop, and that it was it - half an hour on the floor and couldn't move," explains Appelbaum. His back finally started feeling better about three weeks later, but he feels like it never completely healed.

Appelbaum says he finally decided to do something about it and can't believe how much physical therapy is helping.

"Huge difference! I run marathons, and play competitive basketball overseas. I'm not ready to give up playing and running, and this is helping me stay in the game," says Appelbaum.

Dr. Kenneth Lee from Modern Spine tells FOX 26 that back pain is such a common problem, that 80 percent of people over the age of 40 will experience it at some point.

"Before surgery, we obviously like to exhaust all forms of conservative treatment, including medications and physical therapy," says Dr. Lee.

FOX 26 asked Dr. Lee to how to protect our backs. He laughs that after sleeping on a "bad mattress" in his playroom with his children, then experienced back discomfort himself, so he recommends to have a good, supportive mattress. Also, do your homework to make sure your workspace is ergonomically correct. If that doesn't help relieve your pain, Dr. Lee says the next step would be physical therapy.

"You always want to try physical therapy before surgery. It will often strengthen the patient's back to avoid surgery," says Dr. Lee. In fact, it works for 90 percent of his patients!

Trainer Bryan Reid demonstrates how to do a simple exercise at home to help strengthen your back. You can do it either with a large exercise band or with no equipment at all. You lie on your side with your legs bent and on top of one another. You slowly lift the top leg, hold, then slowly go down. The trainer we spoke with suggests you do it until you feel it burning, which might be about 10 repetitions to begin with.

"They say no pain, no gain. I wouldn't say it hurts, but you know you're working your body and making muscles stronger, so my back is stronger, and I like the way it feels," says Appelbaum.

As for knee pain, FOX 26 spoke again with trainer Bryan Reid at Robert Horry's Sports Rehab Center.

Jamie Fairchild is undergoing rehab there, following surgery for her torn ACL.

"The stability of my knee is tremendously improved! They're helping me with a balanced and progressive program, and my knee is getting stronger," says Fairchild. Her trainers are performing deep tissue massage. Exercises are also helping her. You can try it in a gym. It involves one of those machines, where you lie on your back, with your knees bent and slide the machine up and down with your thighs. Reid says it really works the quad muscles, which also helps strengthen the area around the knees.

You can do something similar in the comforts of your home. You just press your back to the wall, with your feet about a foot from the wall and shoulder-length apart. You just slide your back down the wall, bending your knees in a "squat" position, similar to sitting in a chair, though there's nothing underneath you. You should hold on to something stable, or even have someone help you, until you get comfortable and strong enough for the exercise. You could even put a low chair underneath you and stop above it, but have it there as a "safety net", so-to-speak. You can click on the video link, to see how it's properly done.

After working with her physical therapist, Jamie saw a big difference, after only a week. "I've never been to physical therapy before, but I'm really sold on it. The pain is diminishing, and my knee feels so much better and so much more stable," says a smiling Jamie.

On the Web:

Robert Horry Center for Sports & Rehabilitation -- http://roberthorrysportrehab.com/

Modern Spine Progressive Spinal Solutions -- http://www.modernspinetx.com/

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