With many of sitting rigid at work all day, it’s no wonder chronic back pain is on the rise. Frustratingly enough, chronic back pain can develop even in those who lead very active lifestyles (specifically in those who lift.)
While medication, massage and heating pads can help temporarily ease lower back pain, it’s regular stretching of the back extensors and core stabilizers that will go a long way in preventing and easing chronic back pain.
We’ve outlined 5 exercises that will help bring relief and eliminate back pain for good:
Spinal twists are easy and effective and even better, they’re a relaxing way to decompress your back and spine after a particularly tense day or workout. This exercise helps stretch the back muscles, lengthen and realign the spine and strengthen the abdominal muscles. (Those with back injuries should only perform this stretch with an experienced instructor or healthcare professional.)
Instructions: Lie on your back with your arms by your side. Your knees should be bent and your feet flat on the floor. Bring your left knee to your chest and place your left arm straight out to the side beside you. Slowly let your left leg fall over the right side of the body, making sure to keep your spine aligned with the ground. Turn you head to the left as you steadily breathe in and out. Hold for 10 breaths then repeat this pose on the opposite side.
Back extensions are a fantastic way to strengthen the lower back and prevent further pain and injury. This exercise directly strengthens the erector spinae muscles, which extend the spine and allow for side-to-side rotation.
Instructions: Lie with your stomach flat on the floor. Your legs should be straight and your arms on either side of you body. Lift your chest so that your upper body is a couple of inches above the floor. Make sure to not arch your back or bend your neck backwards. Hold for 30 seconds then rest. Repeat 5-10 times.
Also known as The Wheel in yoga, the bridge is a fantastic exercise for stretching the spine and providing much needed relief to a sore lower back. It’s a great strengthening exercise overall as it also helps to strengthen the arms, wrists, abdomen, butt and legs.
Instructions: Lie with your back on the floor. Bend your knees and place your feet evenly on the floor. Position your palms on either side of your head, with your fingers pointed toward your shoulders.
Take a deep breath and exhale as you straighten your arms and push your butt, head and shoulder blades off the floor. Keep your thighs and feet parallel as you stay in this pose for 10 seconds, remembering to breathe. Repeat between 3 – 10 times.
Pelvic tilts are a great, gentle way to ease tension in the lower back muscles. Tilting the pelvis helps stretch the lower back and strengthen it over time.
Instructions: Lie on your back, with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Contract your stomach muscles and tilt your pelvis so you feel a slight arch. Hold for 5 seconds, then return to your normal position on the floor. Repeat this rocking movement 10 times.
Yes, we’re recommending yoga’s most well recognized pose for back relief. Why? Because it’s so darn good for you! When done properly, the downward dog exercise can help relieve not only back pain but headaches and fatigue as well. It has a wonderful rejuvenating effect on the body, helping to stretch the lower back, shoulders, hamstrings, calves and hands. It also has been known to clear the mind and relieve stress.
Instructions: Place your hands and knees on the floor, making sure to position your hips directly below your hips and your hands in front of your shoulders. Lift your knees and heels off the floor, raising your hips up high. Hold for as many breaths as you’re comfortable with as you reach your heels towards the mat (you can do this one foot at a time, keeping one leg flexed and the other bent). Hold for 1 to 3 minutes, then slowly lower knees to the floor when you’re done.