Many people will experience back pain at some point in their life. Whether it is due to injury, an illness, or lifestyle choices, back pain can affect daily functioning and quality of life. Back pain can vary from person to person, along with severity and duration.
Your healthcare provider should be able to elaborate a treatment plan that will help your specific diagnosis, symptoms, and health. As is widely known, exercise is needed to maintain your overall health, so do not be surprised to find gentle physical therapy in your treatment plan.
Back pain sufferers may be worried about hurting their back more, but properly executed exercise techniques can do wonders.
Before beginning, speak with your physician about starting the following exercises to ensure they will be of aid according to your particular necessities and capabilities. Stretching and exercise for back pain should not cause further agony or make the current pain worse.
This means that you are responsible for doing the exercises comfortably; at your rhythm and comfort and in a safe and secure area.
An example of exercising comfortably is choosing to begin with very few repetitions, setting short time intervals for stretches, or adding resting periods. All exercises and stretches should be accommodated according to your abilities and condition.
The crucial point in therapy exercises is not overexerting or straining already sore, damaged, or weakened muscles. This requires the individual to follow through with appropriate form and be consistent with the exercises.
It is also extremely important to warm up for a few minutes before trying to do any of the exercises mentioned. The simplest warm up is walking, but slowly walking up and down a flight of stairs is also enough.
Warming up allows for a slow but gentle increase in heart rate and blood circulation to joints and muscles. It prepares the body for the stretches or exercises that are to come and decreases the likelihood of injuries.
A Classic warmup can include:
- Neck Tilts
- Neck Rotations
- Torso Rotations
- Chest Expansions
- Side Arm Raises
- Arm Raises
- Hip Rotations
- Hops on the spot
- Side-to-side hoops
The Benefits of Exercising for Back Pain
Almost all treatment plans for back pain, individualized or not, include a few stretching sessions. You may wonder why, but trust in scientific research and know that your body requires strength-building exercises to do even the simplest of jobs.
Muscle tone and strength dwindles each time they are not put to good use. Leading a sedentary life, for example, can rapidly lead to weak and poor muscle mass. Muscles allow ligaments and bones to work in union, speed, and power to move or lift objects and your own body.
Stretching those muscles helps to add the much-needed flexibility and resilience to your back and abdomen for ordinary or extraordinary jobs. Having a malleable and sturdy backbone decreases the risk of pulled ligaments and other injuries.
It also amplifies your range of motion, making tasks easier and more pain-free. Stretching will also improve your posture while stabilizing your core at the same time. Another benefit of stretching, or exercise in general, is that it boosts your mood.
You know what else boosts your mood? An afternoon in one of the best recliners for back pain, I've reviewed a few which you should definitely take a look at.
Along with finding relief from the pain, you will also feel quite happy afterward. The right mood mixed with less or no pain means you are ready to have an excellent day.
Types of Exercises for Back Pain
Full sit-ups are to be avoided when your back is in pain, but partial crunches can replace them. Partial sit-ups are perfect for building lower back and abdominal strength. You should have enough space to lay down comfortably before starting the exercise.
Always maintain your tailbone, feet and lower back against the floor while doing partial crunches. Position yourself on your back with knees bent and feet fully against the floor. You can choose to put your hands behind your head or cross them on your chest.
If you choose the former, avoid pulling yourself upwards with your arms. This can potentially make your pain worse since it causes harm. If you observe that you are not controlling your form, try crossing your arms instead.
While contracting your stomach muscles, raise your shoulders off the floor and hold for a second or two before slowly going back down. Repeat eight to twelve times in each set.
Outer Hip Piriformis Stretch
This exercise is extremely helpful for those with lower back pain due to the irritation or inflammation of the sciatic nerve. It is also a great exercise for lower back pain in general. You should lie on your back and place one foot behind the back of the other leg’s knee.
Lock in your foot and rotate your body to the opposite side, with the knee touching the ground. If you are stretching your right leg, place your left hand on the knee and raise your other arm in the air.
If you are stretching your left leg, do the same thing but with your right hand instead of your left. Slowly begin to lower your raised arm toward the opposite direction of the knee, as if you are trying to touch your shoulder to the ground.
Hold the stretch for twenty seconds before switching legs. Do not force your shoulder to the ground, only stretch as far as you are comfortable doing. With time, you will be able to touch the ground with your shoulder.
Butterfly stretches are easy, simple and very efficient for back pain relief. While sitting on the floor, place the soles of your feet together so that they touch and straighten your back. There are two methods to this stretch; you can choose to do one over the other or perform both.
The first method is placing your hands on your knees to gently push downwards. You can choose to slide your feet towards you to induce a stronger stretch as well. The second method is placing your hands on your shoulders, palms down.
Slowly try to make your elbows touch, but stop at whatever angle you feel comfortable in. You should feel your back start to tighten up. Hold the position for five seconds and repeat nine or ten times.
The camel pose helps strengthen and stretch your lower back muscles, which in turn will reduce and prevent future pain. The pose is extremely easy to follow through, making it a perfect exercise for beginners.
For patients who have had non-invasive back surgery, the camel poses aids in recuperation and requires no modifications. Specifically speaking, the camel pose stretches the rectus abdominis and external obliques. It will help you regain proper posture as well.
There are two methods of doing the camel pose, so select whichever allows you to follow thoroughly in comfort and without pain. Using the correct form is necessary to avoid potential injury.
The first method to the camel pose is the following: Stand with your legs shoulder-width apart near somewhere you can hold onto for balance if needed; this can be near a wall or a high table surface. Place your hands on the back of your pelvis and gently raise your head up.
Start leaning back slowly while maintaining your hands in place in order to support your lower back. Depending on how far you go, you will feel the stretch on your lumbar spine areas and even your abdominals.
Hold the position for as long as you can without getting uncomfortable, but not longer than one minute. If you start feeling dizzy, stop the exercise and avoid bending too far back next time.
The second method to the camel pose is this: Kneel down on a mat or carpeted area and place your hands on the bottom of your feet. Begin pushing your hips up and forward without putting pressure on your lower back.
This stretch allows for core strengthening and stability. Hold the position for a few seconds but not longer than a minute. After that, you can choose to do a repetition as well.
Exercising your hamstring may seem pointless for back pain, but that is only if you are not aware of the body’s anatomy. Strong and flexible hamstrings allow the spine to keep its natural curve, which is shaped like an “s.”
Tight hamstrings, a condition that occurs in people who do not stretch or make their back-leg muscles malleable, will suffer from a rounded back appearance as well as back pain in later years.
This rounding of the back develops because the hamstrings are attached to the pelvis. There are three methods to do a hamstring stretch, the first one of which is called a kneeling hamstring stretch.
Kneel on a comfortable area and straighten your other leg in front of you, with the heel touching the ground. Keeping your back straight and your toes pointing upwards, reach and try to touch your toes. Hold the stretch for twenty to thirty seconds and repeat three to four times.
The second is called a standing leg-up hamstring stretch and it involves the use of a chair. Raise one leg and place it on the chair, with your toes on the edge and your heel dropping off the chair. Keeping your back straight, slowly move your chest towards the leg on the chair.
Hold the position for twenty to thirty seconds and repeat three to four times. The final method of doing a hamstring stretch involves the use of a towel. First, you need to lie on your back with one knee bent.
Thread a small towel beneath the ball of the foot that is not bent and pulls back on the towel slowly while straightening your knee. You should feel the stretch on the back of your leg. Hold for 15 to 30 seconds and do it for each leg and repeat four times.
Wall sits are simple and effective against lower back pain by strengthening abdominal and leg muscles at the same time. All you need is a clean, smooth area of the wall with no hanging ornaments or mirrors.
Lean into the wall until your back is flat against it and then slowly slide down. Once your knees are bent and you are in a “chair-like” stance, hold the position for ten seconds or more. Repeat eight to twelve times.
Remember to maintain your feet shoulder distance apart and flat on the ground, your stomach should be tight and the sitting position should be at a ninety-degree angle.
The bird dog exercise is wonderful for those who hate crunches because they are not agonizing. For being such a simple exercise, some people may find that they are too easy to do. However, the bird dog stretch helps the little muscles in your core so you may move powerfully.
The bird dog is easy to follow through by first getting on your hands and knees. With your stomach tightened, lift one leg and stretch it behind you while you lift the opposite hand and stretch it in front of you.
Try lifting your leg and arm higher but stop if you begin feeling uncomfortable. While doing this, maintain your balance and do not move your hips, back, or head. It is important to focus your movements on only your extremities, legs and arms.
Hold the position for at least five seconds and do eight to twelve repetitions. If you find the bird dog exercise too easy, you can find a variation of the exercise online to add a bit of difficulty to the pose.
Each exercise mentioned above will contribute to a healthier and stronger lower back, with less pain as well. It is vital that you also give flexibility to the number of stretches you do per day. Stretching each day for a few minutes is better than once a week for half an hour.
Gradually increasing the amount of time you hold each position is great advice to avoid potential injury or overexertion. Also, it is important to combine a variety of stretching techniques to gain the most benefits.
With the help of a dedicated healthcare provider, your own motivation and changes in lifestyle choices, you will be able to handle lower back pain and improve your quality of life.