EXERCISES FOR BACK PAIN
Sometimes, resting may not always provide the best solution for back pain; one must consider exercises good for the back. Exercises for back pain can strengthen the back, abdominal region, and even muscles of the leg. These exercises help support the spine, relieving back pain. Always consult a health care professional before doing any exercise for back pain. Recommendation of certain exercises by a health care professional depends on the cause and intensity of the pain; therefore, one should avoid exercises that may exacerbate the pain. A good number of exercises that may help to relieve back pain include:
- Partial Crunches
Certain exercises may worsen back pain and as such, one must avoid them when experiencing lower back pain. Partial crunches help strengthen the muscles of the back and stomach such as the latissimus dorsi, rectus abdominis and trapezius. Lie with knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Cross arms over chest or place hands behind the neck. Tighten abdominal muscles and raise shoulders off the floor. Exhale when raising shoulders, do not lead with elbows or use arms to pull neck off the floor. Hold for a second, and then slowly lower back down. Repeat about 8 to 12 times. Proper form prevents excessive stress on the lower back. The feet, tailbone and lower back should remain on the mat at all times.
- Hamstring Stretch
Hamstring muscles refer to muscles located at the posterior aspect of the thigh, such as the semitendinosus, semimembranosus and long head of the biceps femoris. In hamstring stretches, lie on the back and flex one knee. Loop a cloth (preferably a towel) over the ball of the foot. Then, straighten the knee and slowly pull back on the towel. One should feel a gentle stretch down the back of the leg. Hold for at least 15 to 30 seconds. Switch legs and repeat 2 to 4 times.
- Wall Sits
Stand 10 to12 inches from the wall, and then gently lean backward until the back remains flat against the wall. Slowly slide down, making the knees slightly flexed, pressing the lower back into the wall. Repeat 8-12 times. This exercise helps relieve lower back pain and it strengthens the muscles.
- Press-up Back Extensions
Lie on the stomach with hands under the shoulders. Push with hands so the shoulders begin to lift off the floor. If this position provides comfort, put elbows on the floor, directly under the shoulders and hold this position for several seconds.
- Piriformis Stretch
The piriformis stretch, also known as the supine figure 4 stretch, works on the piriformis muscle- a flat muscle that runs from the lower spine through the buttocks to the top of the thighs. In doing a piriformis stretch, lie on the back, and then bring one leg up and cross it over the other leg. Rest the elevated leg’s ankle on top of the other leg’s knee in order to create a figure 4. Bring both legs up slowly and hold the thigh of the leg that the foot rests on. Hold for at least 30 seconds to1 minute. Switch legs and repeat.
Other exercises that may prove useful in relieving back pain include;
- Knee to Chest
- Bird Dog
- Pelvic Tilts
- Aerobic exercise
- Glute Bridges
- Child’s Pose
- Hip Flexor Stretch
- Lifting recommended weights
Exercises to Avoid for Back Pain
Although a good number of exercises come into light with the aim of relieving back pain, one must also avoid certain exercises that may aggravate the pain. Such exercises include;
- Toe Touches
Toe touches increase the stress load on the intervertebral discs and ligaments of the spine. They may also overstretch lower back muscles and the hamstring muscles.
Generally, patients consider sit-ups as a method of strengthening the core or abdominal muscles, but most people tend to use muscles in the hips while doing sit-ups. This may also put unnecessary pressure on the discs in the spine.
- Leg Raises
Leg raises may also prove useful in strengthening the abdominal muscles and restoring strength to the lower back. However, raising both legs simultaneously stresses the core. If weak, this exercise may exacerbate back pain. Instead, try lying on the back with one leg straight and the other leg bent at the knee. Ensure the lower back remains flat on the floor, then slowly lift the straight leg up about 6 inches and hold for some seconds. Lower the leg slowly, repeat 10 times, and then switch legs.