Relief through Strength

Don’t let back pain get in the way of life. Try these exercises instead.

An afternoon gardening, a morning spent playing ball, or even the simple movement of bending over to tie your shoes can trigger back pain. A very common problem, back pain is usually caused by overuse or muscle injury or strain. Pain that isn’t acute can often be treated with gentle exercises.

Strengthening the abdominal, leg, and back muscles will lead to faster relief from pain, faster healing, and prevention of future injury, while reducing the chances of long-term back problems.

You may find relief from your back pain by changing your posture. Some find relief by lying down or standing up, others’ pain is eased when sitting down, while a few can’t find relief in any position. Here are exercises to try depending on what position brings you most relief. In the event any of these cause you pain, talk with a medical professional.

Prefer Lying Down or Standing

Feel best lying down or standing tall? Find relief for your back pain with theBird Dog exercise. For this exercise, get on all fours with your back straight and your hips aligned. Raise your left leg and straighten it behind you. Hold for a few seconds, and then lower your leg. Now raise your right leg and do the same. For an added challenge, raise your right arm straight in front of you while you raise your left leg and your left arm with your right leg.

Next, try the bridge. Lying flat on your back, bend both of your knees at a 90-degree angle. Tighten your abdominals, plant your heels on the floor, squeeze your glutes, and lift your hips up until your knees, hips, and shoulders are in a line. Hold for several seconds and lower back to the floor. Rest and repeat.

Most Comfortable When Sitting

Get relief from back pain when sitting? This may speed recovery.

To do the single knee-to-chest exercise, lie with your back flat on the floor. Bend your knees with your feet on the floor. One at a time, bring your knees up toward your chest, while the other foot remains on the floor. Hold this position for 20 seconds, relax, and repeat with the other knee toward your chest.

When No Position Brings Relief

For those times when no position gives you a break from back pain, the cat-camel may begin to help. Get on all fours and relax your neck so your head angles toward the floor. Arch like a cat by rounding your back toward the ceiling. You’ll feel a stretch. Hold this position for 20 seconds and then straighten your back. Next, relax your back so your stomach arches toward the floor and your bottom is pointing up. Hold, relax, and repeat each position.

You can also loosen your upper back thigh muscle with the hamstring stretch. Lie on your back near an open doorway, with one leg through the doorway and the other leg up on the nearby wall. Both legs should be straight. You’ll feel a stretch on the back of your leg. Hold this stretch for a minute and then switch legs.

One Size that Fits All

No matter the pain your back is feeling, one of the best exercises to strengthen and heal your back is plain old walking. To walk in correct form, stand tall. Don’t lean forward or back. Look straight ahead and keep your shoulders and neck relaxed.