If you are one of the millions of Americans who suffers from back pain, you know all too well the difficulties that come along with trying to manage the condition. Depending on the type and severity of your back pain, there are certain exercises you can do at home to stretch your spine and to increase strength. However, due to the sometimes-complicated nature of back pain, it is important that you carefully pursue exercise regimens and consult with a licensed medical professional. Participating in the wrong exercises or overdoing it are surefire recipes for aggravating back pain rather than relieving back pain. That being said, here are some back pain relief exercises that will be safe for most people suffering from general back pain.
Back Pain Relief Exercises
Put as simply as possible, “It depends.” A “bad back” can constitute so many things that the ability of someone to exercise and how they should go about exercising depends entirely on the type and severity of back pain that they have. If you have any questions about whether or not you should be exercising or need some tips for making back pain relief exercise work for you in spite of your back pain, consult a medical professional. There may be specific exercises that you should avoid to keep from aggravating a bad back, certain muscle groups that need attention to help relieve your back pain or some treatment options (such as steroid injections) that may be appropriate to give you long term back pain relief and make exercise more comfortable as part of a larger treatment plan.
Also, especially if you are an athlete, please avoid the urge to try to “tough it out” and continue exercising if you are in pain—stop that exercise immediately and consult with a doctor if it persists. Keep in mind that gentle practices like stretching, Pilates, and yoga can be incredibly effective back pain relief exercises.
How do you stretch out the lower back?
To get started, you may want to read our blog post on lower back (and upper back) stretches that you can do from your desk. In addition to these discrete stretches tailored for a work environment, add in these moves when you are at home and have a little more freedom to engage in your back pain relief exercises:
Begin by lying on your back on the floor with feet flat on the ground, knees bent. Keeping your knee gently bent, lift one foot up, clasping your hands on the back of the knee for support. When you feel a gentle stretch, stop and hold for thirty seconds. Then repeat with the other leg.
Knees to chest
In the same start position as the last stretch, lying on your back with knees bent and feet flat on the ground, about hip-width apart, gently bring one knee to your chest, using your hands on your knee or shin for support. Hold for thirty seconds before switching legs. You should feel this stretch in your glutes, which is a muscle group critical to lower back health and back pain relief.
Again, beginning flat on your back with knees bent, keep your shoulders flat on the floor while bringing knees together and moving either to the left or right and then lowering to the ground. To reiterate, do this lower back stretch so that both shoulders remain firmly on the ground. Hold for thirty seconds before moving knees to the other side.
To wrap up this series of back stretches, find a wall and lay with your buttocks as close to the wall as possible. Rest both legs up on the wall and hold for five to ten minutes to relax your lower back.
How do you stretch your upper back?
Upper back and neck pain are often caused by muscle tension, making stretching especially effective back pain relief exercises. In addition to the stretches listed in the aforementioned article regarding back pain relief exercises for in the office, try these at home the next time you are feeling tense:
Cow pose to cat pose
Borrowing from the yoga tradition, begin on the floor, on your hands and knees. As you inhale, lift your head up (looking forward) at the same time as you lift your buttocks toward the ceiling and allow your stomach to move toward the floor (Cow Pose). Then, as you exhale, move chin toward chest and round your spine upward toward the ceiling (Cat Pose). Continuing to take deep breaths, repeat until you have repeated each pose five to ten times.
With you back flat against a wall, bring elbows up so that your biceps are also resting against the wall and your arms are perpendicular to the rest of your body. Bend your elbows ninety degrees, lift one arm so that the back of your hand is flat against the wall near your ear. The other hand’s palm should be flat against the wall near your hip. Be sure to maintain the squareness of your elbow bend and keep your shoulders flat against the wall as you alternate arms up and down, palms and backs of hands alternating their turns flat against the wall. Repeat until twenty times.
If you have concerns about your back pain, or would like help designing a custom regimen of back pain relief exercises to target your specific problem areas, contact us today.