When a person develops back pain it seems that the first thing they do is to sit back and relax to give their back a chance to heal. In the past, it was believed that patients who suffered from arthritis, fibromyalgia, and back pain should refrain from too much movement. That kind of thinking was actually reversed when it was proven that exercise actually helped to relieve these different types of pain. When the patients did not exercise their back it became stiff and weak and even more painful.
It was found that the act of exercising the back was able to return important nutrients to the soft tissues and areas in and around the disc. In turn, the joints, ligaments, and muscles were kept active cutting down the chances of current and ongoing pain in the back area. Even though these exercises are specifically for different areas of the back, there may be some residual benefits that result in strengthening the stomach, abdomen, and legs.
Read more: Causes and Treatments for Back Pain
Start Out with Stretches
It is important to stretch before starting any exercise routine. The stretching warms up the muscles giving them a chance to become more flexible. You can do these stretches before you begin additional exercises for your back or you can just start with these and build up your workout slowly.
This exercise is executed just as it sounds. Stand up straight with your feet set apart; bend over from the waist and let your arms just hang down loosely. If after a while you need more of a stretch you can fold your arms across your chest and hold onto your elbows before bending forward. Do this exercise five times holding each pose for a count of 5. Take a deep breath and exhale as you bend forward.
2. Shoulder Squeeze
Sit down with your feet flat on the floor and your arms to your sides. With your arms still straight down squeeze your shoulder blades together and hold for a count of 10. Rest for a minute and repeat for a total of 5 repetitions.
3. Knee to Chest
Lie on the floor with both knees bent. Straighten one leg out and bring the opposite leg to your chest as you wrap your arms around the knee. Hold for a count of 5 then reverse and bring the opposite leg to your chest and hold it close with your arms. An advanced position includes pulling both your knees to your chest and wrapping your arms around both of them at the same time. Hold for the count of 5. Do this exercise 5 times resting in between.
4. Lower Back Swivel
Lie on the floor on your back with bent knees and your arms stretched out to your sides. Slowly lower your knees to your right side while keeping your body straight and your arms outstretched. Hold for a count of 5; return your knees to their original position. Repeat this sequence to the left side. Return knees to the middle position. Repeat this swivel 5 times on each side.
5. Cat Stretch
Kneel on the floor and place your arms straight down with your hands on the floor. Look straight ahead. Slowly curve your back making an arch bringing your head down. Hold for a count of 5. Relax your back for a minute; repeat the curving of your back up to 5 times for a count of 5 each time.
Exercises to Relieve Back Pain
1. Sitting Against the Wall
Stand close to a wall with your feet close together and about six inches in front of you. Position your head, shoulders, and back against the wall. With your arms to your side slowly move your body down the wall until you reach a position that resembles sitting in a chair. Hold for a count of 10. Repeat up to 5 times resting in between.
2. Pelvic Tilt
This position is also referred to as a butt lift. Lie down on a flat surface with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor, arms to your sides. Gently push down with your hands as you raise your buttocks off the floor. Hold this position for a count of 5; relax and repeat 5 more times.
Don’t confuse these with sit-ups, crunches are a gentler exercise. Lie on the floor with knees bent, feet on the floor, arms raised with your hands behind your head. Slowly raise your head and upper body forward with your hands still intertwined behind your head. Hold slightly and return to the prone position. Repeat these crunches 10 times.
4. Reverse Crunch
This exercise does the same thing as a crunch only in reverse. Lie down on the floor with your knees bent and your arms raised with your hands clasped behind your head. Instead of raising your torso as in a crunch, raise your bent legs together so they are parallel to the floor. Hold briefly and repeat 10 times.
Yoga Positions to Relieve Your Back Pain
The practice of yoga is more than a bunch of positions that leave you in the shape of a pretzel. On the contrary, yoga consists of postures that allow you to work at your own pace resulting in an ever-increasing flexibility that requires no impact on your joints. The adage behind yoga is “You are as young as your spine is supple.” The following postures will become exercises you will look forward to because you will feel better and more supple each time you complete them.
1. Bird Dog
There are several different versions of the bird dog exercise but the one featured here consists of getting down on all fours – on your knees with your arms straight out, hands on the floor, head down. Reach out with one arm straight ahead while lifting the opposite leg straight out behind you. Hold for a count of 5 then repeat on the other side. Work up to 5 sets raising each arm and opposite leg each time.
Stand with your legs apart and your hands at your sides. Slowly slide your right hand down your right leg while lifting your left arm over your head until it is straight up. Look up with your head and hold this position for a count of 5. Straighten up and perform the same movements using your left hand and right arm. Repeat the complete routine 5 times.
3. The Bow
Lie face down on a flat surface with your face down, legs straight, and arms at your sides. Lift your head up while reaching behind you as you raise your legs off the floor. Grab your ankles so that your upper body is straight up and your legs are perpendicular to the floor creating a bow with your body. Hold this position for a count of 5; relax and repeat 5 times.
4. Seated Back Stretch
Sit on the floor with your arms at your sides, your torso upright and your legs straight out in front of you. Slowly raise your arms overhead and reach back slightly. Move forward and try to reach your knees with arms bent at the elbows as you pull your upper torso downward. Hold for a count of 10. Repeat this exercise 5 times. As you become more limber reach for your ankles and ultimately reach for your feet.
If you perform the seated back stretch you will want to offset this movement with the cobra which moves the back in the opposite manner. Lie down on the floor face down with your arms at your sides. Raise your head off the floor and push up with your hands arching your back. Hold this gentle movement for the count of 10. Repeat 5 times.
When you are finished with your routine you can perform some of the stretch exercises or any of these cool down poses to ease your body back to its resting place.
1. Rested Pose
Kneel on the floor sitting on the heels of your feet. Reach forward with your arms stretched straight out and your head down. Hold this pose in a relaxed manner for the count of 10 breathing in and out deeply. Perform this pose twice.
2. Feet up the Wall
Get your bottom as close to a wall as you can, legs straight up against the wall with toes pointing up. Arms are raised over your head, which is on the floor looking up. Lie there for a count of 10 letting your back relax. Repeat twice.
What Not to Do When Exercising Your Back
The exercises in this article are meant to be good for your back but this does not mean that just any exercise will have the same results. The following movements should not be performed if you suffer from back pain. They put too much pressure on your lower back and could ultimately do more harm than any good.
- Touching your toes
- Leg lifts
If you perform any other exercises that cause you discomfort discontinue them immediately. Continue the gentle positions listed above and you will soon reap the rewards of your hard work.
Extra Steps to Bring Back Pain Under Control
You may find that you really enjoy the gentle postures of yoga and want to focus on them to help relieve your back pain. Sign up for a class or look up some YouTube videos online.
Swimming is another no-impact form of exercising that will help you perform your postures while enjoying the buoyancy that water brings you. Just swimming laps would work or you might want to sign up for a water aerobics class.
If you have access to a stationary bike you can pedal away while watching your favorite television show. Start out slow and if you can’t do 30 minutes at one time you can just as well do 10 minutes three times a day.
No matter what you choose as your routine start slowly and build up. It’s not how much you can do to begin with but as you do even a couple of exercises diligently every day you will find your flexibility return and your back pain decrease