As you get older, your body becomes more fragile and your back especially is prone to cause pain and problems. This back pain can sometimes be the result of an injury, or in many instances, poor posture or body mechanics are responsible. Doing exercises and stretches that target the back can help relieve pain and improve your overall spine health.
Why is Exercise Important for Back Pain?
Healthy muscles are balanced, flexible, and strong. Ligaments and tendons must also possess these traits, if not they will become tight and lead to muscle imbalances, pain, and stiffness. Exercises targeted towards these supporting muscles can correct these problems. Like the rest of your body muscles need an adequate blood supply to deliver nutrients and oxygen. To promote proper spine health it is crucial that you focus on not only weight training for strength, but flexibility training as well.
Back Specific Exercises
The following exercises target specific muscles that are responsible for supporting your back.
Gluteus Maximus – Lie on your back, with your feet flat on the floor about hip-width apart. Slowly lift your buttocks off the floor while pressing your feet into the floor; your shoulders should stay pressed against the floor. Once your body is in a straight line, hold the pose, then lower back down and rest for 60 seconds. Perform three sets of 15 repetitions.
Transverse Abdominis – To start lie on your back in the same position as above. Take a deep breath in, then breathe out. As you breathe out, pull your belly button toward the spine. Hold for five seconds; repeat five times.
Hip Abductor Muscles – Lie on your side with the lower leg slightly bent. Pull your abdominal muscles toward the spine. Raise the top leg; don’t move the rest of the body. Hold for two seconds, repeat 10 times. Perform three sets, then switch sides.
Back extensors – Lie on your stomach, arms and legs extended. Lift hands and feet off the ground while tightening the abdominal muscles. Hold for two seconds, return to starting position. Repeat 10 times.
Abdominal Muscles – Lie on your back with feet flat on the floor, hands crossed on the chest. Take a deep breath and brace your abdominal muscles. Slowly lift the shoulders off the ground a couple of inches – don’t round the neck. Return to starting position. Perform three sets of 10 repetitions each.
Stretches to Combat Back Pain
When your muscles are limber they are able to move freely and don’t limit your movement. This will help in relieving back pain by relaxing the muscles that surround and support the spine. Stretching is a great way to achieve this flexibility. It is crucial that you work your entire back, not just the areas surrounding the pain.
Upper Back – Bring the chin slowly forward until you feel the stretch in the back of the neck. Next, bend the neck to one side as if touching the shoulder; repeat on the other side. Finally, face the corner of a room; place the elbows on each wall about shoulder height and lean forward until you feel a stretch under the collarbones.
Lower Back – Lie on the back, pull both knees to the chest and flex the head forward until you feel the stretch in the mid and lower back. Next, lie on the back with knees bent and both heels on the floor; place both hands behind one knee and slowly pull it toward the chest.
One thing to remember is no matter what exercise or stretch you are doing, always start slow and work your way up to the recommended number of repetitions. If you feel and exercise causes muscle spasms or increased pain, stop immediately.
If you are suffering from chronic back pain, call Spine Institute Northwest at (888) 712-0318 to learn about non-invasive and minimally invasive treatments for your condition.