Exercises Ease Back Pain

Dealing With Back Pain.

For years, I have been suffering from back pain. I am a licensed mechanic and I am passionate about the trade I was once in. Unfortunately, a back injury suffered at work has forced me to find alternative work.

Exercises Ease Back Pain

Through the years I have tried several methods to relieve the back pain I suffer from. Medications were temporary and even there are alternatives like acupuncture, collagen injections I have found some basic exercises that have helped me the most. Things have become more manageable now.

Lower back pain affects up to 80% of all people at one time or another.

Although its origin varies, changes in the lumbar, or lower back, structure due to musculoskeletal damage are considered to be the main cause.

Your musculoskeletal system is made up of bones, muscles, tendons, ligaments, and other connective tissues that provide form, support, stability, and movement to your body.

Other muscles that play an important role in maintaining the normal curvature of your spinal column
are reported to be associated with lower back pain. These include the hip flexor and hamstring muscles.

Minor lower back pain normally gets better on its own within a few days or weeks. It can be considered chronic when it persists for more than three months.

In either case, staying physically active and regularly stretching can help reduce lower back pain or prevent it from returning.

Types of Back Pain

The intensity and manageability of pain are very different for every person. For example, one person with a herniated disc may experience excruciating pain while another person with the same condition has no symptoms at all. Similarly, a muscle strain can range from mild to debilitating.

With some conditions, back pain can flare up and then subside, only to flare up again after a few weeks or months and gradually intensify over time. Because only you know your level of pain, your treatment will most likely be more successful if you are an active participant in making decisions about your medical care.

1. Acute Back Pain

This type of ache on your back might be the easiest one to deal with. Although there is still unwanted pain, it usually lasts for a short period of time. It lasts an average of 3-6 months.

Having this type of back pain is actually related to several reasons which include:

  • Bumping into something hard: You will feel immediate acute pain. Its progression is usually slower than any other similar pain.
  • Giving birth: One of the most common parts of your body that is affected after laboring is your back, but you don’t need to worry too much about it. Ask your doctor for any treatment that you can do while addressing your post-partum condition.

Even though the pain in your back is still bearable during this state, do not be too confident about it. If not properly addressed, the pain might worsen and might progress to a more painful chronic back pain and give you excessive emotional stress as well.

2. Chronic Back Pain

It usually lasts three months longer than acute back pain. Some medical professionals would refer to this as the “non-cancer related, but chronic back pain”. But keep in mind that if the cause of your back pain becomes unidentifiable, then it might be a symptom of cancer so it is good to see a doctor.

The typical causes of chronic back pain are fibromyalgia and continued aches after any back-related surgery. Compared to acute back pain, chronic back pain is quite vague to many of you, and here’s how you can clear up your mind:

  • Known cause: If you are involved in an accident and suffered an injury, have spinal stenosis, degenerative disc illness, or have spondylolisthesis, then you might be suffering from chronic back pain as these symptoms or events are only some of its noticeable origins.
  • Unknown cause: If the unbearable pain continues even after the complete healing period and there are no other reasons for it, it is what they coined as “chronic benign back pain”.

3. Neuropathic Back Pain

Even though it is the last type of pain stated in this article, you should not skip as this is actually the hardest one to deal with among the types of back pain. It is difficult to diagnose since the pain that you will feel is not related or invisible to your current condition or previous injury.

In this case, your nerves are sending messages of pain to your brain, albeit the damage in your tissue healed completely. This can also be categorized as chronic pain, but since it is much painful, it was varied differently.

To check if you are experiencing neuropathic back pain, consider the signs listed below:

  • Stingy feeling
  • Burning or cold sensation
  • Sharpness on your back
  • Numbness
  • Weakness
  • Pain from your back moving through your hand and feet.

Such injuries that can lead to neuropathy are those which affect your motor or sensory nerves found in the outer region of the nervous system. It is suggested to reach for medical care to aid your nerves in its healing process, which can also ease your back pain.

Is there a treatment for each back pain types?

Since the main goal of this article is to address your back pain concern, then treatments are also available for the type of backache that you are experiencing.

  • Acute Back Pain: Since acute back pain is considered involved in the mild level, you can vouch for over-the-counter pain relievers and ease your acute back pain. If a pain reliever is not enough, immediately see a doctor.
  • Chronic Back Pain: The best way to ease your chronic back pain is to exercise. You can also take proper medications. If you are in a hurry, then choose between the cold or hot compress, it will alleviate the pain in your back.
  • Neuropathic Pain: This involves your nerves so it is highly recommended to see a doctor and follow prescriptions in order to effectively cure this type of pain.

In general, surgery is always recommended to get an effective and long-lasting result. There are various surgeries that address the type of ache in your back so you can feel relieved after.

Although this is just a partial list of the treatment, visiting a medical professional is always the best choice to address your back-related problem.

Back sprain is “inflammation or damage to the ligaments that connect the bones,” says Dr. Chang.

Back strain is damage to the tendons or muscles of the back. Sprains and strains are usually caused by overuse, such as excessive stretching or improperly lifting.

Disc degeneration is when the rubbery discs that cushion the vertebrae of the spine begin to shrink and lose integrity, according to the Arthritis Foundation. This can cause pain as the vertebrae rub against each other and there’s nothing to absorb the force.

A herniated disc is when the soft inner portion of the disc pushes out from the hard exterior shell. “If you look at the disc like a jelly doughnut, there’s a tough outer portion, and a soft inner portion, like the jelly,” says Dr. Chang. “When there’s an injury or tear on the outside of the doughnut, the soft inner portion [the jelly] can push out.”

Scoliosis is an abnormal curvature of the spine. It often causes the spine to form into C or S shapes, and is most common during periods of rapid growth, like during puberty, according to the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases. If this puts “unbalanced pressure” on one part of the spine, this can cause pain, according to Dr. Chang.

Spondylolisthesis is a crack in one of the vertebrae caused by injury, which weakens the bone until it shifts out of the place of the spine, according to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. It’s common in adolescent athletes—especially gymnasts, weight lifters, and football players—due to the repeated stress on the lower back.

Spinal stenosis is “a narrowing of the canal where the spinal cord nerves are,” says Dr. Chang. The narrowing can be caused by degenerative or herniated discs.

Arthritis of the spine is a breakdown of the joint and disc cartilage in the neck and lower back. Common forms of arthritis that lead to back pain are osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, and ankylosing spondylitis.

Injuries from trauma (such as a car accident or falling) are common causes of back pain. A traumatic injury can overly compress the spine, leading to a herniated disc, or put pressure on spinal cord nerves, according to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke.

Non-spinal back pain includes kidney stones, pancreatic problems, fibromyalgia, problems, fibromyalgia, heart attack, endometriosis, and menstrual cycles. These are usually temporary.

“Most causes of acute back pain, no matter the cause, will relieve within a few days, if not a few weeks,” says Dr. Chang. “However, it’s when these conditions continue for more than a few weeks that we start to wonder if there’s a deeper underlying cause that we need to determine.”

Exercises To Help Ease Back Pain

Exercises ease back pain

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Initially, you are going to find discomfort when you are doing exercises. When and if seeing a chiropractor you will be asked to do some exercises.

1. Knee-to-chest

The knee-to-chest stretch can help lengthen your lower back, relieving tension and pain.

To perform the knee-to-chest stretch:

  1. Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor.
  2. Using both hands, grab hold of your right lower leg and interlace your fingers, or clasp your wrists just under the knee.
  3. While keeping your left foot flat on the floor, gently pull your right knee up to your chest until you feel a slight stretch in your lower back.
  4. Hold your right knee against your chest for 30–60 seconds, making sure to relax your legs, hips, and lower back.
  5. Release your right knee and return to the starting position.
  6. Repeat steps 2–4 with your left leg.
  7. Repeat three times for each leg.

To make this stretch more difficult, simultaneously bring both of your knees to your chest for 15–20 seconds. Do this 3 times, separated by 30 seconds of rest.

2. Trunk rotation

The trunk rotation stretch can help relieve tension in your lower back. It also works your core muscles, including your abdominals, back muscles, and the muscles around your pelvis.

To perform the trunk rotation stretch:

  1. Lie on your back and bring your knees up toward your chest so your body is positioned as if you’re sitting in a chair.
  2. Fully extend your arms out to the sides, with your palms face-down on the floor.
  3. Keeping your knees together and hands on the floor, gently roll both bent knees over to your right side and hold for 15–20 seconds.
  4. Return to the starting position and repeat step 3 on your left side, again holding for 15–20 seconds.
  5. Repeat 5–10 times on each side.

3. Cat-cow stretch

The cat-cow stretch is a useful exercise to help increase flexibility and ease tension in your lower back and core muscles.

To perform the cat-cow stretch:

  1. Get onto your hands and knees with your knees hip-width apart. This is the starting position.
  2. Arch your back by pulling your belly button up toward your spine, letting your head drop forward. This is the cat portion of the stretch.
  3. Hold for 5–10 seconds. You should feel a gentle stretch in your lower back.
  4. Return to the starting position.
  5. Raise your head up and let your pelvis fall forward, curving your back down toward the floor. This is the cow portion of the stretch.
  6. Hold for 5–10 seconds, then return to the starting position.
  7. Repeat the cat-cow stretch 15–20 times.

4. Pelvic tilt

The pelvic tilt exercise is a simple yet effective way to release tight back muscles and maintain their flexibility.

To perform the pelvic tilt:

  1. Lie on your back with knees bent, feet flat, and arms by your sides. The natural curvature of your spine will lift your lower back slightly off the floor.
  2. Gently arch your lower back and push your stomach out, stabilizing your core.
  3. Hold for 5–10 seconds, then relax.
  4. Push your pelvis slightly up toward the ceiling (your pelvis should not leave the floor) while tightening your abdominal and buttock muscles. In doing so, you should feel your lower back pressing into the floor.
  5. Hold for 5–10 seconds, then relax.
  6. Start with 10–15 repetitions daily, building up to 25–30.

5. Seat forward bend

Tight hamstrings — the muscles located at the back of your thighs — are thought to be a common contributor to lower back pain and injuries.

The seat forward bend stretches the hamstring muscles to relieve tightness and release tension in your spine.

To perform the seat forward bend:

  1. Sit on the floor with your legs straight out in front of you.
  2. Hook a standard bath towel around the bottoms of your feet at the heels.
  3. Gently bend forward at your hips, bringing your belly down to your thighs.
  4. Keeping your back straight, grab the towel to help you bring your belly closer to your legs.
  5. Stretch until you feel mild tension in the back of your legs and lower back.
  6. Hold for 30 seconds, rest for 30 seconds, and repeat 3 times.

You can increase or decrease the tension of this stretch by grabbing the towel closer or farther from your feet.

As you become more flexible over time, you can increase how long you hold the stretch, or reduce the time between stretches.

6. Flexion rotation

The flexion rotation exercise helps stretch your lower back and buttocks.

To perform the flexion rotation exercise:

  1. Lie on your right side with both legs straight.
  2. Bend your left leg, hooking your foot behind your right knee.
  3. Grasp your left knee with your right arm.
  4. Place your left hand behind your neck.
  5. Slowly rotate your upper body backward by touching your left shoulder blade to the floor. You should feel a mild stretch in your lower back.
  6. Repeat the rotation stretch 10 times, holding each stretch for 1–3 seconds before slowly moving out of the rotation.
  7. Repeat steps 1–6 on your left side.

7. Supported bridge

Use a foam roller or firm cushion to perform the supported bridge. It helps decompress your lower back through supported elevation.

To perform the supported bridge:

  1. Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor.
  2. Lift your hips and place a foam roller or firm cushion underneath them.
  3. Completely relax your body into the support of the floor and the foam roller or firm cushion.
  4. Hold for 30–60 seconds and repeat 3–5 times, resting 30–60 seconds between sets.

You can increase the stretch in your lower back by extending one or both legs from their bent position.

8. Belly flops

Similarly to the supported bridge exercise, the belly flop exercise uses a rolled towel to decompress your lower back through supported elevation.

To perform the belly flop:

  1. Roll up a towel or blanket lengthwise and place it horizontally in front of you.
  2. Lie front-side down over the towel or blanket so that your hip bones are pressing into it.
  3. Completely relax your body. You can turn your head to either side.
  4. Stay in this position for 1–2 minutes and repeat 1–3 times, resting 30–60 seconds between sets.

Some Videos To help

Practicing Yoga 

It’s always a good idea to ask your doctor before starting a new fitness regimen, especially if you’re prone to pain. Once you get the green light, try these seven soothing poses for back pain. You can do these poses in any order. Gradually increase the intensity by holding them for longer amounts of time.

Downward-Facing Dog Will Stretch Your Hamstrings

This classic yoga pose is a great total body stretch that targets back extensors: the large muscles that help form your lower back, support your spine and help you stand and lift objects.

Try it: Start on your hands and knees, with your hands slightly in front of your shoulders. Pressing back, raise your knees away from the floor, and lift your tailbone up toward the ceiling. For an added hamstring stretch, gently push your heels toward the floor. Hold the position for 5 to 10 breaths, and repeat the pose five to seven times.

Child’s Pose Elongates Your Back and Relieves Stress

It may look like you’re resting, but Child’s pose is an active stretch that helps elongate the back. It’s also a great de-stressor before bed at the end of a long, exhausting day.

Try it: Start on all fours with your arms stretched out straight in front of you, then sit back so your glutes (butt muscles) come to rest just above — but not touching — your heels. Hold the position for 5 to 10 breaths, and repeat as many times as needed for a good, soothing stretch.

Pigeon Pose Relaxes Hips By Stretching Rotators

Pigeon pose, which can be a little challenging for yoga newbies, stretches hip rotators, and flexors. It may not seem like the most obvious position to treat backache, but tight hips can contribute to lower back pain.

Try it: Start in Downward-Facing Dog with your feet together. Then draw your left knee forward and turn it out to the left so your left leg is bent and near perpendicular to your right one; lower both legs to the ground. You can simply keep your back right leg extended straight behind you, or for an added hamstring stretch — seasoned Pigeon posers, only! — carefully pull your back foot off the ground and in toward your back. Hold the position for 5 to 10 breaths, then switch to the other side, and repeat as needed.

Triangle Pose Lengthens Torso Muscles to Build Strength

Triangle pose is great for strengthening the back and legs and can help lengthen your muscles along the sides of your torso while stretching the muscle fibers along your outer hip (your IT, or iliotibial, band).

Try it: Start standing straight with your feet together. Next, lunge your left foot back three to four feet, and point your left foot out at a 45-degree angle. Turn your chest to the side and open up the pose by stretching your right arm toward the ground and the left arm toward the ceiling, keeping both your right and left legs straight. You may not be able to touch the ground with your right arm at first, so don’t overstretch — only bend as far as you can while maintaining a straight back. Hold the position for 5 to 10 breaths, then switch to the other side, and repeat as needed.

Cat and Cow Pose Loosen the Back and Warm You Up

The perfect poses for an achy, sore back, Cow and Cat stretch loosen your back muscles, whether as part of a yoga routine or as a warm-up for another workout.

Try it: Starting in an all-fours position, move into Cat pose by slowly pressing your spine up and arching your back. Hold for a few seconds and then move to cow by scooping your spine in, pressing your shoulder blades back, and lifting your head. Moving back and forth from Cat to Cow helps move your spine onto a neutral position, relaxing the muscles and easing tension.

Repeat 10 times, flowing smoothly from Cat into Cow, and Cow back into Cat. Repeat the sequence as needed.

An Upward Forward Bend Releases Tight Hamstring and Back Muscles

Sometimes called a forward fold, the upward forward bend stretches the hamstrings and back muscles while providing a release for tight, tense shoulders.

Try it: Stand straight with feet shoulder-width apart and your knees lose, not locked. While you exhale, hinge at your waist and bend forward, reaching toward the floor. Don’t worry if you can’t reach all the way to the floor at first; just stop wherever your hamstrings feel a comfortable stretch. Repeat the pose five to seven times. On the last bend hold the position for 5 to 10 breaths.

Upward-Facing Dog Stretches and Engages Key Muscles

This pose works to open up your chest, stretch your abdominal muscles, and engage your back.

Try it: Start by lying flat on the floor with your palms facedown by the middle of your ribs. While drawing your legs together and pressing the tops of your feet into the floor, use the strength of your back, not your hands, to lift your chest off the floor. Leave your legs extended straight out at first. Hold the position for 5 to 10 breaths, and repeat as needed.

I will post as many images of the following yoga poses. There are several articles and videos on yoga included in this website. I encourage you to visit them.

Back Pain Relief Sciatica Relief. Beginners Yoga Guide

Thank you for reading

Michael

Comments are welcome

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4 thoughts on “Exercises Ease Back Pain”

  1. Back pain is BRUTAL. A few years back, I had a lot of lower back pain (probably from my posture) and it bugged me like crazy. There are so many strategies to solve this though, as I’ve seen!

    Beyond all of the techniques that you outlined, the best long-term strategy to stop back pain is probably by just strengthening your back and core. That is what worked for me.

    Thanks for the article!

    Aaron

    Reply
    • Hi Aaron,

      Thank you for your comments. I agree with you. I find one of the best ways to strengthen your back is through regular exercise. It is painful at first, but determination does pay off.

      Best wishes,
      Michael

      Reply
  2. I really enjoyed this article because I have been suffering from lower back and neck pain for a long time and have been through a lot of the same experiences as you.  I was a Corrections Officer and am now looking to possibly be on disability.  I have been doing a lot of the stretching and yoga you described and they do seem to help with the pain.  I also see others in your article that I have not heard of before and I really want to try.  

    Overall, great article for anyone suffering from any kind of back pain to understand what is going on and ways to help reduce or eliminate the pain.

    Reply
    • Hi,

      Thank you for your comments. Lower back pain can certainly be disabling. Sorry to hear you have been suffering from this. Even though it hurts at times yoga, stretching exercises, including Tai Chi are useful tools in fighting back and neck pain. I hope you found some more methods to relieve your back pain through my article.

      All the best,

      Michael 

      Reply

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