If you experience back pain, you're not alone. It's estimated that 65 million Americans experienced some form of back pain recently, and 16 million people live with chronic back pain. Many people do stretches to help with the pain, but there are exercises for back pain relief that can provide short-term results today and long-term pain relief with consistency.
4 Exercises for Back Pain Relief
Lower back pain is the most common, and when you exercise, you can strengthen your support muscles and even promote healing. One study found that performing exercises forces blood into the back, which may lead to:
- Faster healing
- Reduction in stiffness
Remember to be mindful when performing these exercises. If you experience sharp pain or increased discomfort during any of the exercises listed, stop and find other forms of pain relief that may work better.
The following exercises can help provide back pain relief:
Bridges are an exercise that you can do at home – no weights needed. You'll want to lay flat on your back on a yoga mat, carpet, or hard floor. Keep your arms flat on the ground and move your feet so that they're:
- Hip-width apart
- Flat on the floor
Press your heels into the ground and arch your back up in the air while keeping your head flat on the floor. When raising your pelvis to the sky, be sure to squeeze your buttocks together and hold the position before lowering back down to the ground.
While performing bridges, it's also important to keep your shoulders and neck on the ground to avoid putting stress on the neck.
You should perform 10 – 15 repetitions of bridges before resting.
In total, three sets of bridges should be performed.
The reason that bridges, or any exercise that focuses on the gluteus maximus, works so well at relieving back pain is that your buttocks support your lower back. Strengthening this muscle group will reduce strain when you squat, get out of a chair, or are just walking around town.
Have you ever seen Superman fly through the air? If so, you already know how to perform this exercise. When performing a Superman, you're working on your back extension muscles found on the sides of the spine.
When strengthening these muscles, you're adding to your pelvic and spinal support.
Performing this exercise is easy:
- Lie on a hard surface on your stomach
- Place both hands straight out in front of you
- Keep your legs flat and straight
- Pull in the belly button to engage the core
- Raise your arms and feet off the ground
- Maintain a neutral neck (look at the floor)
Your hands and feet should be about six inches off the floor when performing a Superman. You'll want to stretch your hands and feet as far out as you can. Hold the position for two seconds and repeat 10 to 15 times to complete an entire set.
3. Lateral Leg Lifts
Your hips play a major role in supporting your pelvis and alleviating back pain. You'll want to lay on a surface similar to the surface when doing bridges. But this time, you're going to lay on your side and prop your head up with your hand on the floor or keep your neck flat on the arm nearest the floor.
Finally, you'll keep your legs together and maintain a slightly bent knee on the leg on the floor.
Engage your core muscles and raise your top leg in the air, while keeping your knee straight. Hold the position for 2 seconds before lowering down and repeating ten times.
4. Partial Curls
Many people think of their back muscles when trying to relieve back pain, but strong abdominal muscles are vital for spine and back health. Weak abdominals are often the cause of lower back pain, so exercises to strengthen the core are recommended.
Performing a partial curl is a good starting point for alleviating back pain and can be performed by:
- Lying flat on your back on a supportive surface
- Place your hands straight by your side
- Keep your feet flat on the ground, knees bent
- Pull in your stomach as you breathe out
- Slightly raise your head and shoulders off the ground
- Hold the position when your shoulders are around two inches off the ground
- Maintain the position for 4 – 5 seconds before lowering back down
- Perform three sets of 10 repetitions
If you're struggling to envision a partial curl up, you can watch YouTube videos that can help you better understand this exercise.
Note: Be sure to consult with your physician before attempting any of these exercises for back pain relief.
Exercises for back pain relief focus on stabilization and surrounding muscles that support the back. Stronger supporting muscles alleviate back strain and pain.
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