Beat Back Pain With These 5 Simple Moves

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By: Chris Freytag, CPT // November 27, 2023


Back pain is incredibly common, and frustrating. It impacts lots of age groups and lifestyles. Really, no one is safe!

The best back pain exercises can relieve, stretch, and strengthen your back muscles to decrease pain levels, improve range of motion, and keep chronic back pain at bay. We’ve rounded up five of the best ones!

Here are common causes of back pain and the best exercises/stretches for relief.

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    Common Causes of Back Pain

    Photo Credit: Shutterstock

    There are many common causes of back pain. The pain can also become acute or chronic. Acute pain is short-term (lasting six months or less), while chronic pain lasts longer than six months.

    Some of the most common causes of back pain include:

    • Arthritis
    • Disc Problems
    • Lifestyle Triggers
    • Scoliosis
    • Muscle Sprains, Strains, Spasms

    Lower Back Pain Causes

    Lower back pain is the most common. Many spine-related conditions cause low-back pain, including arthritis, ruptured discs, osteoporosis, pinched nerves, scoliosis, torn or pulled muscles, and vertebrogenic pain.

    It can also stem from unresolved hip or pelvic issues because our lower back, hips, and pelvis all work together.

    Upper Back Pain Causes

    Upper back pain tends to be less common. Sitting at a desk or non-ergonomic setting for long periods of time with poor posture can lead to upper back and neck pain. (Office workers tend to experience this.)

    When we have a forward-bending posture, it puts additional pressure on bones, discs, muscles, and ligaments in our upper spine.

    Upper back pain can also stem from the shoulders. Rotator cuff tears, bursitis, and scapular dyskinesis are all top contenders.

    How Exercise Can Help With Back Pain

    woman stretching
    Photo Credit: Shutterstock

    Moving your body might be the last thing you’re thinking of with back pain. But the truth is, exercise is the number one prescription for many instances of it!

    If you’re dealing with chronic aches or pains from poor posture or simply getting older, exercises for back pain can be a good idea.

    Back pain exercises work wonders by helping to:

    • Promote disc health
    • Decrease stiffness
    • Strengthen muscles

    The Best Back Pain Exercises

    Whether you are trying to fix back pain or avoid it, we have the five best exercises/stretches for you!

    No matter what the cause, back pain can be helped by two things:

    1. Stretching the back and legs
    2. Strengthening the entire core

    Use proper form to practice the following five back pain exercises on a weekly or bi-weekly basis and get rid of that aching back. 

    Before starting any new exercises, we always recommend checking in with your healthcare provider of choice if you have any concerns.

    Let’s get started!

    Full-Body Roll-Up

    Chris Freytag demonstrating a full body roll-up.
    Photo Credit: Get Healthy U

    The full-body roll-up exercise strengthens your core in a slow, controlled motion. It teaches you to articulate your spine and stretches the muscles in the back and legs that cause tightness in the back.

    How To Do A Full Body Roll-Up:

    • Lie flat on your back with your arms extended overhead.
    • 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 to activate your transverse abdominus.)
    • Inhale and start to slowly go back in a C curve.
    • 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.

    Bird Dog

    Chris Freytag demonstrating a bird dog exercise.
    Photo Credit: Get Healthy U

    The bird dog exercises teaches your body to use the core for stability. It strengthens your ab muscles and low back, and lengthens the spinal column for better posture.

    How To Do A Bird Dog:

    • For a starting position, kneel on the mat on all fours.
    • Reach one arm long, draw in the abdominals, and extend the opposite leg long behind you.
    • Repeat on the other side.

    Perform 8-10 per side. Move slow and steady, holding arm and leg out momentarily before switching.

    Forearm Plank

    Senior woman doing a plank exercise at home.
    Photo Credit: Shutterstock

    The forearm plank strengthens all of your core muscles. It engages your stabilizers while lengthening and improving posture.

    How To Do A Forearm Plank:

    • Begin lying on the floor with your forearms flat on the floor, making sure that your elbows are aligned directly under your shoulders.
    • 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.

    Swimming Exercise

    Chris Freytag demonstrating a swimming exercise on a yoga mat.
    Photo Credit: Get Healthy U

    The swimming exercise strengthens back extensors while teaching core muscles to grip during movement. It’s a great way to engage your core!

    How To Do The Swimming Exercise:

    • Lie on your stomach with the legs and arms extended. Engage your abdominals so you feel your transverse abdominis contract.
    • 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.

    Child’s Pose

    Chloe Freytag demonstrating a child's pose.
    Photo Credit: Get Healthy U

    Technically, this is a stretch, not an exercise, but you don’t want to leave this off your list! The relief feels amazing.

    How To Do Child’s Pose:

    • Begin with hands and knees on the mat, knees separated to the outer edges of the mat.
    • Sit your tailbone down and back between your heels and lower your belly between your thighs.
    • 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.

    Hold for 30 second to 1 minute.

    Adding targeted back pain exercises to your weekly routine is one of the best ways to help existing back pain and prevent future injury. This simple adjustment to your exercise routine can help you maintain an active healthy lifestyle for years to come.

    15 Best Mobility Exercises for Seniors to Stay Active

    One of the best things you can do to stay healthy and active with age is to make mobility exercises a regular part of your routine. Did you know that limited mobility is actually the thing that makes you look the oldest

    A quick mobility routine is often all it takes to start feeling better!

    To see the benefits firsthand, try the 15 best mobility exercises to keep you in action and impact your overall health for years to come.

    15 Best Mobility Exercises for Seniors to Stay Active

    Balance Exercises for Seniors: Tips (& Video!) To Improve Balance

    Happy older woman balancing on logs in the woods.
    Photo Credit: Shutterstock

    According to the CDC, injuries from falls are the leading cause of injury-related death for Americans 65 and older. One of the main risk factors for falling is poor balance.

    Luckily, we have pulled together exercises you can do to help reduce the risk of taking a fall. At the end of the day, balance is a big part of graceful aging and being independent.  

    Balance Exercises for Seniors: Tips (& Video!) To Improve Balance

    9 Hip-Strengthening Exercises for Seniors

    woman stretching
    Photo Credit: Shutterstock

    As the largest joint in your body, your hips play a central role in healthy aging.

    These mighty structures enable you to perform a wide range of daily activities, from standing to walking to climbing stairs — so it’s hardly surprising that hip weakness and pain can be debilitating to your everyday life!

    9 Hip-Strengthening Exercises for Seniors



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