When you are experiencing back pain, you may want to rest, but being active is good for the back. Exercising can strengthen the muscles of the back and those that support posture, as well as improve overall body health. Strengthening the muscles provides support to the spine and slowly reduces back pain. Pain relief following exercise may not always be instant and may sometimes worsen initially and the muscles may be sore, but eventually, the back pain will reduce. It is always advised to consult with a healthcare professional before doing any exercise for back pain because some exercises are not recommended for back pain and may cause more damage.
Some exercises may worsen back pain and hence be avoided when there is sudden onset back pain. A healthcare professional can assess your condition and identify the cause of back pain. Depending on the cause and intensity of the pain, a healthcare professional would be able to advise an exercise plan, including the frequency and duration of the exercises. Proper form and posture during exercise are important to avoid excessive stress in the back, cause injury, or worsen the problem; a healthcare professional would be able to advise on the same.
Following exercises may help reduce back pain
- Partial crunches: Partial crunches can help strengthen the muscles of the back and stomach. You must lie down on a yoga mat with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Your arms may be crossed over and placed over the chest or behind the neck. You have to contract or tighten the muscles around your tummy and raise your shoulders off the floor while breathing out. Avoid using your elbows or arms to lift yourself off the floor. Once you lift your shoulders off the floor, you can hold the position for a few seconds and then slowly lower back down. You may repeat this 8-12 times a day.
- Wall sits: You must stand 10-12 inches away from the wall and then lean back on the wall until the back is flat against the wall. Slowly slide down until your knees are slightly bent while pressing your lower back into the wall. Hold for a count of 10 seconds or how many seconds possible and then slowly slide back up the wall and stand. This can be repeated 8-12 times a day.
- Press-up back extensions: Lie flat on your stomach on a yoga mat, with your hands under your shoulders. Push your shoulders off the floor using your hands. After this, you may place your elbows directly under the shoulders and hold for a few seconds. You place additional cushioning under the elbows. This may be repeated 8-12 times a day.
- Bird dog: Start on your hands and knees, as you would in a cat pose, and contract your belly muscles. Lift and extend one leg behind up to the hip level and hold for five seconds, bring it down, and then switch to the other leg. If comfortable, you may also extend the opposite arm forward, while lifting the leg. This may be repeated 8-12 times on each side for each side. You may gradually increase the holding time.
- Knee to chest: Lie on a yoga mat on your back with the knees bent and feet flat on the mat. Bring one knee to your chest, while keeping the other foot flat on the mat. The lower back should remain pressed to the floor. This position may be help for 15-30 seconds and then repeated on the other side. This exercise may be done two to four times for each leg.
- Pelvic tilts: Lie flat on your back on a yoga mat with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Tighten your stomach as tight as possible till you feel your back pressing into the floor, with your hips rocking back. Hold this position for 5-10 seconds while inhaling and exhaling slowly. This may be repeated 8-12 times a day.
- Aerobic exercises: Aerobic exercises such as swimming, walking, and biking can strengthen your muscles, lungs, heart, and blood vessels and help you lose weight and reduce back pain. You may start with short sessions and gradually build up over time.
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