Strengthening the muscles that support the spine with back exercises,
abdominal exercises and buttocks exercises, can prevent, reduce
and even eliminate back pain.
Strong abdominal muscles are as crucial as strong back muscles
for supporting the lower back and preventing lower back pain.
Strong quadriceps (front of thigh muscles) is important
to prevent back injuries when lifting. Proper lifting techniques
involve using your legs and if your legs are weak, you may end
up using your back.
Shortened Muscles Cause Back Pain:
muscles can throw the spine out of alignment and cause back pain.
Stretching exercises lengthen shortened muscles and relieve back
pain. Tight back muscles, tight buttocks muscles, and even tight
hamstrings (front of thigh muscles) or quadriceps (front of thigh
muscles), can affect the alignment of the spine. Stretching the
back with stretching exercises also increases mobility of the joints
of the spine.
Stretching exercises may be done daily. Strengthening exercises
should be done three or four times per week - the days off give
your body a chance to recover. It may take
6 week to 8 weeks to notice results.
To prevent back pain, keep your back fit
by doing the following exercises.
(Start with five
repetitions of each exercise. If you can handle five repetitions
without post exercise pain, then slowly add a couple of repetitions
each week until you reach 15 repetitions).
*If you are experiencing back pain or suffer from
a back condition, ask your doctor if the following exercises
are appropriate for you to do.
Stretching Back Exercises:
Warm-up Exercise before Stretching Exercises:
Always warm up before stretching exercises. Five
minutes of walking, or exercise bike, elliptical trainer, or even
marching on the spot is enough. Not warming up before stretching
leaves your back susceptible to injuries causing back pain. Warm
muscles are more flexible than cold muscles and are less likely
Pelvic Tilt: lower back pain stretching
Lie on back, knees bent, feet flat on floor. Tighten buttocks
and abdomen, flattening small of back against the floor. Hold
for a count of five. Slowly relax. Repeat five - fifteen times.
Knee to Chest:
Gluteal stretching exercise
Lie on back, knees bent, feet flat on floor. Grasp left leg
behind the knee and pull knee towards left shoulder. Hold for
a count of five. Switch sides. Repeat 5 times.
Basic Twist: back
pain stretching exercise: loosens up lower back and relieves lower
Lie on back, arms stretched out to the sides.
Bend knees and bring knees up close to your chest
Take a deep breath
Exhale as you slowly lower knees (keep knees together) to floor to the right
or as close to the floor as is comfortable.
Inhale as you slowly return your knees to chest.
Exhale as you slowly lower knees to left side
Inhale as you return your knees to chest.
Repeat about 5 times.
The Cat: back
pain stretching exercises
Begin on all fours, hands directly under your shoulders and
knees directly under your hips.
Inhale as you drop tummy towards the floor and look up over your head.
Exhale as you bring your tummy back up, rounding your back as you tuck your
chin in and tuck your tailbone in.
Move slowly back and forth between these two positions pausing on each pose.
Repeat about 5 times.
The Cobra: back
pain stretching exercises
Lay flat on stomach, forehead to ground, with arms bent and
palms down on the ground under the shoulders.
Push downward with arms as you raise your upper torso and arch your back.
Hold for 3 full breaths before slowly bringing the upper torso back down to
Shoulder, Back, Arms Stretch:
back pain stretching exercises
Chest Stretch: chest stretching exercise
Stand with knees slightly bent. Interlace
fingers, extend arms forward at shoulder level. Turn palms
out and reach your arms further until you feel a stretch. Hold
10 - 20 seconds. Repeat.
:Stand with knees slightly bent. Hands behind
the back, fingers interlaced. Turn palms up extend arms backward.
Do not arch the back.
Sides, Waist Stretch:
Stand with knees slightly flexed. (Can also be done
sitting down) Place your right hand behind your head. Grab your
right elbow with your left hand and pull gently. Bend slowly
to the left until you feel a gentle stretch. Hold 10 - 20 seconds.
Switch sides. Repeat.
Shortened hamstrings can contribute to
Hamstring (back of thigh) Stretch:
Sitting, extend right leg, place left foot against right knee. Lean forward,
reaching for foot until you feel a slight pull on you hamstring. Hold for
10 - 20 seconds. Switch sides. Repeat
Hamstring (back of thigh) Stretch:
Lying flat on back. Raise left leg up. Grab
leg and pull up further until you feel a gentle pull in the
hamstring Hold for 10 - 20 seconds. Switch sides. Repeat.
Shortened quadriceps can contribute to
Quadriceps (front of thigh) Stretch:
Stand up. Bend your knee behind you, grab your ankle and gently pull your heel
toward you buttocks until you feel a gentle pull on the front of your thigh.
Hold for 10 - 20 seconds. Switch sides. Repeat.
Wall Back Stretch: back
/ neck pain stretching exercise
Stand up with your back against the wall. Try to press the small
of your back and the back of your neck toward the wall. Hold
for 10 - 30 seconds. Do not overstretch!
Neck Stretch: back
/ neck pain stretching exercises
Stretching using an Inversion Table:
To loosen up the neck, where many people carry their stress: Stand
or sit up straight with the bottom of your spine turned under. (Do
not arch your back) Let your head fall forward, keeping the neck
and shoulders relaxed. Slowly roll your head to one side, then let
it drop and roll to the other side. Be careful not to overstretch.
Do not roll the neck backwards
therapy has been around for a couple of thousand years. Your feet
are securely supported as your body hangs upside down - and the
spine is stretched by the weight of your body. For more information
see Inversion Tables
Strengthening Back Exercises:
Many people tend to over do it when starting
strengthening exercises for the back, resulting in back strain.
Back pain caused by doing too much too soon sets one back even
farther. But the ultimate goal is to be able to do the back strengthening
exercises. Strengthening the back can't be rushed. It takes patience
but it well worth the effort
Warm-up Exercise before Back Exercises: Be sure to
warm up before doing back exercises with five minutes of walking,
or using an exercise bike or elliptical trainer, or even marching
on the spot. Warm-up exercises prepare your back for strength exercises
or stretching exercises by increasing circulation to the muscles.
Do some stretching exercises after you strength train as contracting
your back muscles tightens them up a little.
*To activate your deepest abdominal muscles, cough
once or twice. If you can keep these deep abdominal muscles contracted
during exercises for the back and stomach, other core muscles
will be getting a simultaneous workout.
The Bridge: Strengthening exercises
for several core muscle groups
Lie flat on back; bend knees at 90-degree angle, feet flat on
floor. Raise buttocks off floor, keeping abs tight (You can activate
these abs by coughing - concentrate on contracting these muscles)
Shoulder to knees should be in straight line. Hold for a count
of five. Slowly lower buttocks to floor. Repeat five times.
The Plank: Strengthening exercises
for back and abdomen (also strengthens arms and legs)
Lay on stomach, place elbows and forearms on floor. In a push-up
position, balance on your toes and elbows. Keep your back straight
and legs straight. (Like a plank) Hold position for 10 seconds.
Relax. Repeat five to ten times. If this exercise is too difficult,
use balance on your knees instead of your toes.
The Wall Squat: Strengthening
exercises for back, hips and legs.
Stand with your back against a wall, heels about 18 inches from
the wall, feet shoulder-width apart. Slide slowly down the wall
into a crouch with knees bent to about 90 degrees. If this is
too difficult, bend knees to 45 degrees and gradually build up
from there. Count to five and slide back up the wall. Repeat
Back: Leg and arm raises to strengthen back and hip muscles.
Lay on stomach, arms reached out past your head with palms and
forehead on floor. Lift one arm (as you raise your head and shoulders)
and the opposite leg at the same time, stretching them away from
each other. Hold for 10 - 30 seconds. Switch sides.
Leg lifts: Quad Strengthening
Lie flat on back. Bend left knee at 90-degree angle, keeping foot flat on floor.
Keeping the right leg straight, slowly lift it to the height of the left
knee. Hold for a count of 3. Repeat 10 times. Switch sides. Work up to 10
sets of 10 over several weeks.
*Safety Tip for Leg lifts:
Lifting both legs at the same
time causes excessive stress on your lower back so
only lift one leg at a time; the opposite leg should be kept slightly bent
with foot on floor.
Strong abs are essential for supporting the spine.
Lie on back, knees bent. Do not anchor feet. (Anchoring the feet or keeping
the legs straight along the floor can strain the lower back). Keep the lower
back flat on the floor. Exhale when raising your torso off the floor and inhale
when lowering. Just raise your head and shoulder off the floor - three to six
inches is enough. Sitting up all the way is hard on your lower back. Keep chin
tucked in. You can use your hands to support your neck but be very
careful not to pull your neck or you could strain a neck muscle.
To eliminate any chance of straining your neck, keep your arms at your side
or folded on your chest. Do ten repetitions.
Leg Lifts: lower
Lie flat on back. Lift leg about 45 degrees, hold for 3 seconds,
switch sides. Do ten repetitions.
lower abdominal exercise:
Lie flat on back, feet in the air. Bend knees 90 degrees. Place hands under
buttocks for support and make sure your lower back remains flat on the floor.
Tightening your lower abdomen, lift your buttocks a few inches off your hands.
Hold for a moment and lower back down. Do 5 to 15 repetitions.
obliques exercise: (sides of the stomach)
Rotational crunch is a slight variation of the regular crunch.
(The variation - the direction you raise your head and shoulders
off floor is diagonal). Lie flat on back, knees bent, feet flat
on floor. Do not anchor feet. Rotate your body so that the weight
rests on left shoulder. Then, keeping chin tucked in, bring your
head and shoulders upward and raise your right shoulder higher
than the left.
Backward Leg Swing:
Gluteal exercise: (The muscles of the buttocks help support
Stand, holding onto the back
of a chair for support. Swing leg back at a diagonal until
you feel your buttocks tighten. Tense
muscles as much as you can and swing leg back a couple
more inches. Return leg to floor. Repeat 10
times. Switch sides.
Ab Bench Back Extension Combo
Balancing exercises also help to strengthen the core muscles
(back. abs, and buttocks) which are used for balancing. Doing
a variety of exercises will ensure you target different muscle
Opposite Arm and Leg Extension: balancing
/ stabilization exercises: Strengthens muscles running down
sides of spine, back of shoulders, and buttocks
Begin on all fours,
hands directly under your shoulders and knees directly under
your hips. Keep the back flat. Keep buttocks and abdomen tight.
(To activate your deepest abdominal muscles, cough once or twice)
Lift one arm up and forward that it is parallel to your back.
Keeping the arm extended, lift the opposite leg in the same manner.
Keep your face down, head aligned with spine. Keep arm, spine,
and leg aligned as if they are forming a flat tabletop. Balance
yourself for a count of ten, relax, switch sides and repeat.
Remember to breathe. Do a couple repetitions.
Exercising Using an Exercise Ball:
Exercising with or without equipment is effective, but the exercise
ball is often used by physical therapists. Also called the Stability
Ball because you have to stabilize or balance yourself on the
ball. Stability ball exercises are great for strengthening the
back and abs as these core muscles are activated by the act of
Pick an exercise ball where your legs are parallel to the floor
when sitting on it. Exercise balls are over inflated balls. The
softer the exercise ball, the easier it is to balance on it. The
further the ball is from your body, the harder the exercise.
When doing exercises using an exercise ball, keep the abdomen
Doing exercises with an exercise ball activates
the muscles than run up and down the spine, and deep core
Stabilization Exercises Using An Exercise Ball:
The following stabilization exercises
are performed while sitting on the exercise ball:
flat on floor with hips and knees bent at a 90-degree angle.
Keep you abdomen tight. (To activate your deepest abdominal
muscles, cough once or twice).Keep your back straight.
Raise and lower one heel at a time.
Raise and lower one foot
at a time a couple of inches off the floor as if marching.
and lower arm, alternating sides.
Raise and lower arm while
lifting opposite heel off floor.
The following stabilization exercises are performed
while laying on the exercise ball:
Lie with stomach over ball. Place hands flat on floor. Tighten
your abdomen (To activate your deepest abdominal muscles,
cough once or twice) and keep your back straight.
Place hands flat on
floor. Walk on hands away from ball until ball is under legs.
Walk back to starting position.
Place hands flat on floor. Walk
on hands away from ball until ball is under legs. Slowly raise
and lower alternating arms.
Place hands flat on floor. Walk on
hands away from ball until ball is under legs slowly perform
Low Impact Aerobic Exercise:
Doing low-impact aerobics is a relatively safe way for persons
with recurring back pain to begin strengthening their back and abdominal
muscles. For those with weak back or abdominal muscles, strength
must be built up gradually to avoid re-injury and more back pain.
Low-impact aerobics tone the muscles that
support the back without causing undue strain on the back and back pain.
Besides strengthening muscles, low impact aerobics increase circulation,
which aids in healing. Low impact aerobics include: swimming,
walking, using a stationary exercise bike or an elliptical trainer.
High-impact aerobics (where both feet leave the ground at the
same time) such as jumping rope or running puts undue stress
on your back. When your feet hit the ground extra stress is placed
on the intervertebral discs and joints of the spine. If you suffer
from lower back pain, or want to prevent back pain, stick to
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Water exercise is especially beneficial
for those with back pain caused by osteoarthritis of the spine
or disc problems.
The buoyancy of the water supports the majority of the body weight, taking pressure
off the joints and intervertebral discs. The resistant properties
of water make the muscles work harder to perform movements
such as walking, marching, or other water exercises. You can
strengthen the muscles that support the back without stressing
the joints and discs. The pressure the water exerts on the body
prevents an injured joint from further inflammation and post
exercise back pain.
Always warm up for at least 5 minutes
with of walking or performing the same activity as you are about
to do but at a slower pace. This slowly increases your heart rate,
breath rate and body temperature to allow your body to adjust to
the higher demands of aerobic exercise. Cooling off in the same
way for another 5 minutes allows your body to adjust to its resting
state and prevents blood from pooling in your extremities. 5 minutes
of walking can help flush waste products from the muscles and prevent
post exercise soreness.
*Wearing footwear with adequate cushioning
and support help absorb shock and decrease the risk of back
Aerobic exercise also helps keep weight down, which relieves
back pain, especially lower back pain. Aerobic activities also helps
relieve muscle tension and back pain by relieving stress.
*Drink plenty of water before, during and after aerobic activity
to replace water lost by perspiration. Dehydration can cause muscle
aches and back pain - plenty of water is needed to help the body
flush out the acidic waste products that can build up in the muscles
You Will See Results
Keeping fit with an exercise plan that includes back stretching
and strengthening exercises is very effective for the prevention
of recurring back pain. Exercises for all the muscles that support
the back, especially the abs, are also important.
Increase the duration of back exercises gradually to avoid overuse
injures. It may take a couple of months, but if you stick with it,
you will see results.
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