Free Back Pain Exercises

 

Free Back Pain Exercises

Back pain and stiffness can severely hinder your ability to perform everyday tasks, including those as simple and ordinary as walking, sitting, standing and lying down. By creating a back pain exercise routine that focuses on improving the flexibility and strength of your lower, middle and upper back, you can reduce back pain and reduce your chances of experiencing additional back pain from normal activities.


In addition, performing core stability exercises that strengthen the muscles of your lower back, sides and abdomen can improve your balance and the flexibility and strength of your spine. This, in turn, will allow core muscles to carry more of your body weight, eliminating the load imposed on your spine.

Note that all individuals, regardless of their current health and fitness levels, should consult a doctor or physician before beginning any new exercise routine. It is also crucial to perform these exercises with the proper form in order to prevent the exacerbation of existing back pain, and to avoid unnecessary injury.

Chapter 1 Knee to Chest Exercises

Both knees:

Step 1: Lie down on a comfortable mat, with your feet and knees approximately one inch apart. Your knees should be bent at a 90 degree angle.

Step 2: Ensure that your lower back and the soles of your feet and pressed comfortably yet firmly against the mat.

Step 3: Bring your knees up and into your chest.

Step 4: Wrap your hands around the back of your knees in a hugging motion and hold this position for several seconds.

Step 5: Repeat this motion five to ten times. As you are holding your knees to your chest, concentrate on relaxing your lower back muscles. You should feel the tension gradually leaving your lower back.

Alternating knees:

Complete the exercise as described, with one exception: Instead of bringing both knees to your chest as explained in Step 3, only raise one leg at a time. Wrap both of your hands behind the leg currently being stretched. Alternate between legs until a total of ten repetitions have been completed.

How It’s Helpful

Knee to chest exercises are ideal for relieving pain and tension in the muscles of your lower back. The stretching motion achieved by performing the exercise can also increase lower back flexibility, leading to long-term back pain relief. This is an easy exercise that can be performed by individuals of any body type. As a bonus, knee to chest exercises performed with alternating knees can stretch your hamstrings and glutes, further improving your flexibility.

Tips

-Alternate between sets of knee to chest exercises using both knees and one knee at a time.

-Try to complete a total of four sets before moving on to a new exercise.

-Instead of performing the hugging motion around the back of your knees, try placing your hand around the front of your upper shin. Some individuals find this technique to be more comfortable.

Warnings

-Avoid holding the knee to chest position for more than 30 seconds. Doing so could lead to muscle stiffness or injury.

-If you decide to hug the front of your shin instead of the back of your knee during the exercise, avoid pulling on your kneecap. Doing so could lead to knee pain and injury.

-Discontinue the exercise if you experience pain or discomfort.

Chapter 2 Lower Back Rotational Stretches

Here, we’ll discuss three lower back rotational stretches, including the Back and Hamstring Rotation Stretch, the Kneeling Back Rotation Stretch, and the Lumbar Rotation Stretch.

Back and Hamstring Rotation Stretch

Step 1: Sit comfortably on a mat with your back in a vertical position and your leg extended in front of you.

Step 2: Extend your left leg with the bottom of your knee just above the floor.

Step 3: Cross your right leg over your left, with your right foot next to your left kneecap. Your right foot should rest on the mat.

Step 4: Place your right elbow against the inside of your right kneecap.

Step 5: Slowly rotate your chest and head to the left.

Step 6: Move your left arm back in a circular motion, with your fingertips pressed against the floor. Doing so will allow you to stretch further and open your chest more.

Step 7: Look over your left shoulder with your head while relaxing neck and chin.

Step 8: Hold this stretch for approximately ten to fifteen seconds.

Step 9: Rest for a moment, then repeat the exercise in the opposite direction. Begin by crossing your left leg over your right.

Step 10: Alternate between stretching to the left and to the right until you complete approximately five repetitions. Try for a total of three sets.

Kneeling Back Rotation Stretch

Step 1: Begin by getting on your hands and knees on an exercise mat. Your palms, knees and toes should be supporting your body weight.

Step 2: Keep your knees a few inches apart and your hands approximately at shoulder width. Your body should feel stabilized and centered.

Step 3: Raise your right arm up and to the right in a smooth rotation.

Step 4: Concentrate on keeping your arm extended. As you perform the motion, follow with your head and look upward in line with your arm.

Step 5: Hold this position for ten to fifteen seconds.

Step 6: Return to the starting position and rest for a moment.

Step 7: Repeat the exercise, this time using your left arm.

Step 8: Alternate between using each arm until a total of ten reps have been completed. Try to complete a total of two or three sets.

Lumbar Rotation Stretch

Step 1: Lie on your back on an exercise mat.

Step 2: Keep your knees close together and bent at a 90 degree angle, with the bottoms of your feet planted on the floor.

Step 3: Open your chest, and rest your arms against the mat with your palms relaxed and facing upwards. Your wrists should be in line with your head.

Step 4: Rotate your lower body to the right by moving your knees towards the mat in a smooth, circular motion.

Step 5: Hold the stretched position for two to three seconds.

Step 6: Return to the starting position and rest for a moment.

Step 7: Repeat the exercise, moving your knees down to the mat to the left instead of the right.

Step 8: Continue to alternate between moving your knees to the right and left.

Step 9: Continue until three sets of approximately ten reps have been completed.

How It’s Helpful

The Back and Hamstring Rotation Stretch adds flexibility and strength to your lower back, hamstrings, glutes and hips. The Kneeling Back Rotation Stretch improves your balance, increases lower back flexibility, and relieves aches and tension in your lower back and sides. The Lumbar Rotation Stretch further improves lower back flexibility.

Tips

-As you become more comfortable with the Back and Hamstring Rotation Stretch, try to extend the stretch described in Steps 6, 7 and 8 for approximately 30 seconds.

-When performing the Kneeling Back Rotation Stretch, you should feel a significant amount of tension in your lower back. If you are not feeling enough tension, you probably haven’t rotated your middle back enough.

-Try to hold the stretched position in the Kneeling Back Rotation Stretch for 30 seconds or more as you become more comfortable.

-Try to fit all three exercises into a single workout in order to maximize the effectiveness of the lower back rotational stretches.

Warnings

-Avoid doing the Kneeling Back Rotation Stretch without an exercise mat. Performing this exercise on a hard floor can cause unnecessary strain on your kneecaps.

-The Lumbar Rotation Stretch becomes less effective when you move your upper body. The point of the exercise is to stretch your lower back muscles, which requires you to keep your upper body stationary while rotating your knees down towards the mat.

Chapter 3 Lower Back Flexibility

This chapter includes three exercises designed to improve lower back flexibility, including Side Flexion in Standing, Extension in Lying, and Extension in Standing.

Side Flexion in Standing

Step 1: Stand up straight with good posture. Your shoulders should be back instead of slouched, and your head should be centered above your torso.

Step 2: Gently place your hands against your sides, with your palms facing inward.

Step 3: Gradually lean to your right side, with your hand sliding down your right thigh.

Step 4: Continue to slide your hand downward while bending your torso down and to the right until significant tension is felt.

Step 5: Hold the stretched position for a few moments.

Step 6: Return to the starting position and rest for a few moments.

Step 7: Repeat the exercise, moving to the left instead of the right.

Step 8: Alternate between stretching left and right until ten repetitions have been completed. Aim for three full sets.

Extension in Lying

Step 1: Lie on your stomach with your legs planted against the floor and your hands position as if you’re about to perform a push-up. Your palms should be flat against the mat, with your fingers pointed in front of your body.

Step 2: Push your upper body up by gradually straightening your elbows.

Step 3: End the stretch with your elbows completely straightened and your torso nearly vertical. Your back should be arched inward.

Step 4: Hold the stretched position for a few moments.

Step 5: Repeat the exercise ten times, for a total of three sets.

Extension in Standing

Step 1: Stand tall with your feet in line with your shoulders and your hands on your hips.

Step 2: Your palms should be pressed against your hips, with your elbows bent at a 90 degree angle.

Step 3: Slowly arch your back backwards as far as you can until significant tension is felt in the lower back.

Step 4: Hold this position for a few moments.

Step 5: Return to the starting position. Repeat ten times, for a total of three sets.

How It’s Helpful

All three of these exercises are designed to increase the flexibility of your lower back muscles and spine. They also serve to strengthen your lower back and core muscles, including those in your sides.

Tips

-During the Extension in Lying exercise, it is important to keep your legs planted firmly against the mat during the stretch. Your pelvis should only lift slightly off of the mat.

-Focus on maintaining your balance during the Extension in Standing exercise. You’ll need to move your pelvis forward slightly during the stretch in order to accomplish this.

Warnings

-The Extension in Lying and Extension in Standing exercises are advanced lower back flexibility exercises that should only be performed by those who have already attained an adequate level of lower back flexibility.

-Do not attempt the full range of motion in any of these exercises if they become painful. Work up to the full range of motion gradually.

Chapter 4 The Bridge

There are four different Bridge exercises that can relieve back pain and strengthen your back. We’ll begin with a Basic Bridge exercise.

Step 1: Lie on your back on a mat with your lower back and the bottoms of your feet pressed into the ground, similar to the starting position for the knee to chest exercise.

Step 2: Rest your arms at your sides with your palms facing downward.

Step 3: With your knees bent at a 90 degree angle, lift your hips into the air until a straight line is formed between your knees, hips and shoulders.

Step 4: Hold this position for a few seconds.

Step 5: Gradually lower your hips until your buttocks rest on the mat once again.

Step 6: Repeat the exercise for five to ten repetitions and three full sets.

The following steps describe a Marching Bridge.

Step 1: Follow Steps 1 through 3 as described in the Basic Bridge instructions.

Step 2: When your hips are in their elevated position, lift one leg into the air at a time. Hold your foot approximately twelve to fifteen inches above the mat for one or two seconds.

Step 3: Return your foot to the mat and reassume the starting position.

Step 4: Repeat Step 2 with the opposite leg.

Step 5: Alternate between legs for ten or more repetitions and three sets.

The following steps describe a more challenging Bridge variation.

Step 1: Perform the Marching Bridge exercise until the point where your foot has lifted off of the ground.

Step 2: Instead of keeping your foot in a stationary position above the mat, extend your leg outward in front of you.

Step 3: Extend you leg and point with your toe until your foot, knee, hips and shoulders form a straight line.

Step 4: Repeat this motion, alternating between legs for three sets of ten reps each.

The following steps describe a One Leg Bridge variation.

Step 1: Assume the starting position described in the three previous Bridge exercises.

Step 2: Extend one of your legs straight out on the mat, with your knee only slightly bent.

Step 3: Lift your hips into the air while maintaining your extended leg’s positioning. Your extended leg should lift off the floor at the same rate as your hips.

Step 4: Repeat the exercise using the opposite leg.

Step 5: Alternate between legs for three sets of ten repetitions each.

How It’s Helpful

All four of the described Bridge exercises increase the strength and flexibility of your lower back muscles. In addition, Bridge exercises work your glutes, which can improve balance and stability and lower the physical demands on your back during daily activity. Note that Bridge exercises are more challenging than most back exercises, and should therefore only be attempted by those with the proper exercise experience.

Tips

-During each Bridge exercise, your glutes should provide the power for your hips as they lift upward. You should not use your hamstrings to power this exercise.

-Try to keep your abdominal muscles tight as you lift your hips.

-Maintain a steady breathing pattern as you perform all Bridge exercises.

Warnings

-Each Bridge exercise variation described is more challenging and physically demanding that the previous. Do not attempt any Bridge variations until you’ve mastered the Basic Bridge exercise.

-Do not attempt this exercise if you’ve received a serious medical operation on your lower back, such as a lumbar fusion.

-Do not attempt to raise your hips into the desired position if the motion is painful or uncomfortable. Instead, work up to the full range of motion gradually as you perform the exercise in subsequent sessions.

Chapter 5 Cat Stretch

Step 1: Position yourself on an exercise mat on your hands and knees.

Step 2: Ensure that your body is stabilized by positioning your knees a few inches apart and your palms shoulder-width apart. Your toes, knees and palms should all be making contact with the mat.

Step 3: Gradually arch your back up towards the ceiling while maintaining contact to the mat with your toes, palms and knees. Slowly move your chin in towards your chest as you’re performing this motion.

Step 4: Hold this position for a full three seconds.

Step 5: Return to the neutral position outlined in Step 2 and rest for a moment.

Step 6: Gradually arch your back down towards the floor while continuing to make contact with the mat with your toes, knees and palms. Slowly lift your head up until you’re looking straight ahead as you’re performing this motion.

Step 7: Hold this position for a full three seconds.

Step 8: Repeat Steps 1 through 7 ten to fifteen times to complete one set of Cat Stretches.

Step 9: Complete three full sets of Cat Stretches.

How It’s Helpful

The Cat Stretch provides an excellent workout for the muscles surrounding your spine. It also improves the strength and flexibility of the spine itself. The muscles in your lower back will become stronger and more flexible. The muscles in your upper back and shoulders will be relieved of pain.

Tips

-Try to increase your range of motion slightly with each repetition of the Cat Stretch.

-Concentrate on feeling the tension in your shoulders and upper back exiting your body as you complete the exercise.

-Control your breathing as you perform this exercise. Try to exhale as you arch your back upwards, and inhale as you arch your back towards the floor.

-Spread your fingers out on the floor to achieve extra stability.

-Move your abdominal muscles towards your spine as you arch your back towards the ceiling.

Warnings

-Do not attempt to overextend yourself while arching your back up or down. This exercise will become easier after several sessions of performing it.

-Do not change from arching your back upwards to arching your back downwards too quickly. Doing so could cause back injury.

Chapter 6 Seated Lower Back Rotational Stretches

The most common seated lower back rotation stretch is known as the Seated Spine Twist.

Step 1: Sit on a mat with your legs crossed in front of you.

Step 2: Cross your arms in front of your at chest level. Your forearms should be pressed together, with your fingers in line with your elbows.

Step 3: Inhale deeply and twist your upper body to the right.

Step 4: Quickly repeat this motion three times.

Step 5: Return to the centered starting position as you exhale.

Step 6: Repeat the exercise described above, rotating to the left instead of the right this time.

Step 7: Alternate between rotating to the left and to the right for ten reps and up to three sets, or until significantly fatigued.

How It’s Helpful

Seated lower back rotational exercises build muscle strength in the muscles directly adjacent to the spine. The can also increase spinal flexibility and mobility and reduce long-term back pain.

Tips

-Try to keep your nose in line with your sternum during the Seated Spine Twist.

-Try performing the Seated Spine Twist with your legs extended in front of you instead of crossed. Keep your knees slightly bent and your legs spread to increase stability.

-Maintain good posture during the exercise, with your ears in line with your shoulders.

-As you become more comfortable with the Seated Spine Twist, hold a weighted ball, such as a medicine ball, between your hands instead of crossing your arms.

-Try performing the exercise while sitting on an exercise ball to make the motion more effective. As a bonus, performing the exercise this way will increase your core stability.

Warnings

-The Seated Spine Twist should be powered by your torso, not your head. Overextending the motion performed by your head could cause back injury.

-Don’t be afraid to work towards the full range of motion gradually.

Chapter 7 Shoulder Blade Squeeze

Step 1: Stand with your feet approximately six inches apart, or in line with your hips.

Step 2: Pay careful attention to your posture, ensuring that your shoulders are back and that you are not slouching.

Step 3: Lower your chin slightly.

Step 4: Gradually move your shoulder blades back, down and toward one another, creating a squeezing motion.

Step 5: Hold this position for three to five seconds.

Step 6: Return to the starting position.

Step 7: Repeat the motion five to ten times for three sets.

How It’s Helpful

The Shoulder Blade Squeeze exercise helps you to improve your posture, and relieves tension in your upper back and shoulders. The Shoulder Blade Squeeze is a very simple exercise that takes virtually no preparation and has no strict physical requirements. Due to the rapid nature of this exercise, you can even perform it at the office during a one minute break.

Tips

-Try performing the Shoulder Blade Squeeze exercise in the shower with the shower head aimed at your upper back. The hot water will loosen your muscles and improve the effectiveness of the exercise.

-This exercise can also be performed from a seated position. Use whichever position feels most comfortable.

-Keep your elbows bent at a 90 degree angle during the exercise to maximize its effectiveness.

-Draw your elbows together during the exercise.

-Try alternating between performing the exercise as described and doing so with your arms hanging at your sides.

Warnings

-Do not attempt to touch your elbows together behind your back during this exercise. Only the most flexible individuals will be able to achieve this, and attempting to do so could cause back injury.

Chapter 8 Core Stability Exercises

There are several core stability exercises that can relieve lower back pain and strengthen your back. We’ll describe how to perform the Superman exercise and the Plank exercise.

Superman

Step 1: Lie on a mat on your stomach. Your hands should be extended in front of your body, with your head slightly raised and your eyes looking forward.

Step 2: Relax your lower body. Try to ignore your legs during this exercise.

Step 3: Lift your hands off of the ground slightly.

Step 4: Shape your hands into loose fists and draw them to your sides in a rowing motion. At the end of the motion, your hands should be only slightly in front of your shoulders when viewed from the side.

Step 5: Lift your upper body upward as you perform the motion.

Step 6: Hold this position for a few moments.

Step 7: Return your body to the resting position, with you hands in front of you and your upper body slightly lower to the mat. Feel free to rest with your hands touching the mat for a few moments between repetitions.

Step 8: Repeat the motion ten times for a total of three sets.

Plank

Step 1: Begin this exercise on your hands and knees on a mat. Make a fist with each hand.

Step 2: Ensure that both your elbows and the bottom of each fist is planted on the mat, allowing you to stabilize your body with your forearms. Your knees should also be making contact with the mat, with your toes slightly elevated. Your knees should be bent at a 90 degree angle.

Step 3: Shift your weight onto your toes and lift your knees into the air, forming your body into the shape of a bridge or plank. Keep your forearms firmly planted on the mat.

Step 4: Draw your belly button in towards your spine as you perform the motion.

Step 5: Hold the final motion for a few seconds.

Step 6: Return to the starting position in a smooth motion.

Step 7: Repeat the exercise up to ten times for a total of three sets.

How It’s Helpful

Core stability exercises such as the Superman and the Plank are useful for increasing lower black flexibility, developing strength in the muscles of the lower back, and correcting existing lower back pain. These exercises also strengthen your abs and core, allowing them to bear more of your body weight and reducing the load carried by your spine. They are also less damaging to your neck than traditional crunches, which may prevent upper back and neck pain.

Tips

-Start with fewer reps and sets if your core strength is minimal.

-Complement these exercises with other exercises that focus directly on the abdominal muscles, such as sit-ups, to maximize their effectiveness.

-Perform the Superman exercise first, and then transition naturally into the Plank exercise.

Warnings

-Do not attempt the full range of motion if you experience pain or discomfort. Instead, work up to the full range of motion over the course of several exercise routines.

Conclusion

All of these exercises are useful for individuals who are attempting to relieve and prevent back pain. As noted, some of the exercises are designed for more physically advanced individuals, and these exercises should only be performed after an adequate level of overall physical fitness is achieved. By performing these exercises on a regular basis, you’ll increase the flexibility and strength of your spine, as well as the muscles in your back, sides and abdomen.

As previously mentioned, it is vital for all individuals to consult their doctor before starting a new exercise program.

Leave a Comment