7 Best Exercises for Back Pain
Lower back pain is a common health ailment affecting 31% of the world’s population. You are probably among the above-mentioned percentage of people if you sit for long hours or have prolonged poor posture, or are in the habit of bending incorrectly, or have experienced previous injury playing sports or overexerting yourself during workouts, or if you lift weights with poor form among others.
Since backaches emanate from different sources, including: lumbar discs, muscles, facet joints, ligaments and even nerves, it is one of the most difficult ailments to treat. What’s more the different causes of back pain require different types of treatment.
Let’s look at the two most common causes of lower back pain.
Poor Movement Mechanics
So you have the flexibility of a yoga master. You can still fall into the trap of moving incorrectly. When your spine is out of its neutral position, it causes the muscles that support the spine to be destabilized hence compromising your ability to steady your trunk. Every time you pick something up with a rounded back, you’re putting yourself at risk. If what you are picking is heavy, the risk increases exponentially. This is why it’s crucial to be always aware of your spinal posture when exercising and lifting!
Prolonged Poor Posture
If you work in an office with a computer throughout, chances are high that you sit for a protracted period of time. Also sitting for hours on end in the couch watching TV can expose you to backaches, if you aren’t already experiencing it. Sitting for prolonged periods of time is not ideal for your back because it exerts pressure on your spine. With time your muscles can become accustomed to this prolonged poor posture leading to severemuscular imbalances. The hip flexor muscles on your glutes and your hamstrings on the back can become tight and shortened, which in turn can impair your ability to walkproperly.
Ways to ManageLower Back Pain
Increase Your Movements, Employ Light Exercises
Previously, many health practitioners only prescribed bed rest to relieve lower pain. But more and more practitioners are now recommending movement and return to ordinary activity as it has been found to be more effective in enhancing a speedy recovery.
Unless you have acute back pain,your back will benefit from light exercise, which can help increase circulation and speed up recovery time. If your pain was caused by either trauma, or if you notice that your pain travels down into your legs or if you experience weakness of any kind, see a health practitioner.
Retrain Affected Muscles To Function Normally Again
The human body is amazing. Your body “recalls” where you’ve been hurt before, and even long after you have recovered from the pain. The body still controls your deep trunk muscles (the Transverse Abdominus (TvA) and the Multifidus (MFD))without your control to accommodate the “pain”.
These two muscles help to steady the spine, preventing it from moving especially under load.After a bout of severe back pain, the timing of TvA and MFD is thrown off (usually delayed), and they may also become weak. By re-training these muscles with targeted exercises, their normal function can be normalized again.
Improve Lumbar Spine Stability Using Inversion Therapy
Inversion therapy is a temporary spinal tract reliever involving spinal traction (stretching the spine) to relieve back pain caused by spinal disk compression. During therapy, one hangs upside down on an inversion table so that the gravitational pressure is absorbed off the nerve roots and disks in your spine. It also increases the space between vertebrae.
Nonetheless, there is a much more convenient way to exercise inversion therapy, using an inversion chair. If you suffer from joint pain or sour ankles you may found hanging upside down in an inversion table really painful. However, when using an inversion chair, the patient is instead in a sitting position when starting, with a strap across her lap which fastens her into the chair. Then the chair slowly turns upside down enabling the patient to get the same traction as the table without putting unnecessary strain on the ankle, or knee.
Inversion therapy is not recommended for people with high blood pressure, heart disease or glaucoma.
Best Exercises For Relieving Lower Back Pain
The right exercises will retrain your spine muscles to regain stability and increase hip mobility. Start with exercises such as the plank that will help keep your spine stable.Below we feature seven useful exercises to help relax your hips and support your core hence relieve back pain. Before undertaking any of the exercises below, always do warm-ups or stretching exercises to prevent further injury to the lower back.
One Knee-Kneeling Hip Flexor Stretch
This is a flexibility exercise that will help you achieve flexible hip flexors hence relieve pressure on the spine. Kneeling on the left knee, tighten your abdominal muscles, and push your pelvis forward without letting the pelvis tip forward. Reach up with your right hand and across for 30-60 seconds repeating on each side.
Vertical Hamstring Stretch
If you that feel your hamstrings are taut, these simple hamstring stretchexercises will help loosen them. However, if you experience a zinging sensation or tightness into your calves when you do this exercise, it may be caused by your nerve, in which case you should see your physical therapist.
To increase your hamstring flexibility, place your left leg onto an elevated surface. Reach your navel towards your knee keeping your back straight and your hands out of the way, to prevent rounding out your back. Do this for 30-60 seconds on each leg.
This stretch can also be done in a supine position (flat on your back) using a belt.
Modified Side Plank
The side plank is one of the best exercises for strengthening your core as it engages allfour of your deep trunk muscleswithout compressing your spine. It is also a great workout for improving your posture and building shoulder strength.
Starting with the modified side plank, support your bodyweight on your forearm with your knees stacked together. Hold side plank for 10 seconds, resting 3 seconds to complete a circuit. Do 10 reps.
Flat Back Dead Bug March
The supine dead bug march is an excellent exercise for abdominal engagement and core stability.Lie on your back but keep your natural archon your back by placing a small folded towel under your lumbar spine to assist. Bend your knees at 90-degrees over your hips, and then raise your arms and legs up to the ceiling. Touch one toe to the ground, and back to the starting position. Do this for 2 minutes then repeat on the opposite leg.
While this exercise might be a bit challenging, it is great for stretching and strengthening your core. Start on all fours, dog position. Your shoulders should be in line with your wrists and your hips in line with your knees. Stretch your right arm forward and your left leg back keeping your hips and shoulders completely square. Hold for 5 seconds, and then return to the start position. Perform for 2 minutes, alternating sides every 5 seconds.
Work on perfecting your balance by placing a foam roller on the curve of your back and not letting it fall. Similarly, you can place your knees and your hands together, keeping your balance as you do the bird dog.
Squats are a fantastic core-strengthening and stability as well as for training proper movement.Start with squats, using only your bodyweight. Do your squats facing sideways next to a mirror so you can observe your form. Ensure that you spine remains neutral throughout. So don’t squeeze your butt cheeks! Avoid using additional weights until you can confidently squat with perfect balance.
Stand with feet apart with your feet slightly wider than your hips, and slightly turned out. Keeping your chest straight and your core tight, bend your knees as you lower yourself, pushing your butt back as if you were sitting in a chair. At the same time, drive your knees out over your second toe making sure your knees don’t collapse in. All the while, your spine should remain neutral.
From the bottom position of the squat, push yourself up again using only your legs to bring yourself all the way back to standing.
The Hip Pivot
This exercise is meant to teach you proper movement by moving from your hips, and not your back. It is also excellent for core-strengthening. Start by standing with feet apart, with shoulders in line with your hips and heels and your back towards a wall. Hold a dowel or a broomstick along your spine ensuring it touches your lower back, upper back and head. Thrust your hips back to the wall behind you while keeping your knees over your ankles. Dead lift your feet squeezing your glutes to stand all the way back up. The rod should touch your head, upper-, and lower-back throughout. Continue for 10 reps, completing 2 sets.