Whether you are trying to fix back pain or avoid it, we’ve got the five best exercises for you! Back pain seems to be as regular as the common cold. Rare is the person who doesn’t experience back pain at some point in their life. And is it just me, or does it seem to be starting earlier in life all the time? Back pain used to be the complaint of either the older person or perhaps the occasional assembly line worker who spent hours at a time in the same position all day.
Now, due to one extreme or another, back pain has taken hold of all ages and all different lifestyles. Picture these two extremes:
- Sedentary Susan has back pain because she sits at a desk all day which produces tight hip-flexors, poor posture, weak abdominals, and stiff, sedentary muscles.
- Jumping Jane has a rigorous fitness schedule. The repetitive motion of running and jumping produces pounding of the bodyweight on her spine. In addition, her lack of stretching following a training session creates tight hips and hamstrings which pull on the bac
Two entirely different situations, but the same outcome: a bad back!
Even those who don’t fall into those categories feel back pain from bad mattresses, poor walking posture, standing too much, sitting too much, repetitive golf or tennis swings, and the list goes on. I guess once you start to consider it, the answer as to why it’s more and more common seems obvious. So what’s the solution?
No matter what the cause, back pain can be helped by two things:
- Stretching the back and legs
- Strengthening the entire core
Practice the following five exercises on a weekly or bi-weekly basis and get rid of that aching back.
- Strengthens core in a slow, controlled motion.
- Teaches you to articulate your spine.
- Stretches the muscles in the back and legs that cause tightness in the back
B) Inhale arms to the sky, exhale and slowly roll up into a “C” curve reaching for your toes. (Think about threading your belly button to your spine, and activate your transverse abdominus.)
C) Inhale and start to slowly go back in a C curve.
D) Exhale as you uncurl your body one vertebra at a time back into the mat.
Be sure to keep your feet on the ground as you move slowly. Perform 6-8 roll-ups.
- Teaches the body to use core for stability
- Strengthens abs and low back
- Lengthens spinal column/posture
B) Repeat on the other side.
Perform 8-10 per side. Move slow and steady, holding arm and leg out momentarily before switching.
- Strengthens all core muscles
- Engages stabilizers
- Teaches lengthening/posture
A) Begin lying on the floor with your forearms flat on the floor, making sure that your elbows are aligned directly under your shoulders.
B) Engage your core and raise your body up off the floor, keeping your forearms on the floor and your body in a straight line from head to feet. Keep your abdominals engaged and try not to let your hips rise or drop.
Hold forearm plank for 30 seconds to start, trying to progress to a 60 second hold.
- Strengthens back extensors
- Teaches core muscles to grip during movement
- Engages core
A) Lie on your stomach with the legs and arms extended. Engage your abdominals so you feel your transverse abdominis contract.
B) Lift your arms and legs off the floor and keep your nose in a hover above the mat. Flutter your arms and legs, moving from the hips and shoulders (not the knees and elbows) like you are swimming.
The goal is to keep the body stable as the limbs flutter quickly. Try for 30 seconds and work your way up to 60 seconds.
- Stretches the back
- Promotes relaxation
A) Begin with hands and knees on the mat, knees separated to the outer edges of the mat.
B) Sit your tailbone down and back between your heels and lower your belly between your thighs.
C) Stretch your arms long in front of you and relax your forehead onto the mat. Breathe fully and hold as long as you’d like.
Technically this is a stretch not an exercise, but you don’t want to leave this off your list. The relief feels amazing. Hold for 30 second to 1 minute.