Inside Scoop: Here are 5 of the best exercises to reduce back pain effectively and when rest is the right solution.
This post was submitted by Dr. Brent Wells, Chiropractor and founder of the Better Health Chiropractic & Physical Rehab.
When we’re hurt, our instinct is to try to rest the pain away or to take medications/ supplements. There are times when rest is a good choice. However, when it comes to your back, if you are sedentary all day, what it probably needs is a bit more exercise.
You do need to be careful about what kinds of exercises you engage in and how you do them. Even the best exercises can do more harm than good if done wrong. Something as basic as stretching can hurt if you twist or stretch too far.
Most of these exercises to reduce back pain are simple, and some can even be done at work. Working in some time to stretch your back with these exercises over the course of the day will help to reduce or eliminate your pain over time.
Exercises to Reduce Back Pain
This one is a bit like cheating because it is not just one exercise. Also, there are some poses that you definitely should not be doing with back pain. However, there are a number of more relaxing yoga poses that can help you relax your back and build your core. These pilates exercises for lower back pain can also be helpful in strengthening the core.
The following are some of the best yoga poses to reduce back pain. Make sure you have help the first few times you do them. You want to ensure you are doing them right and helping your back instead of creating more pain.
- Child’s pose
- Sphinx pose
- Cat-cow pose
- Standing forward bend pose
- Downward-facing dog pose
- Extended triangle pose
- Bridge pose
- Knees-to-chest pose
One thing to keep in mind when doing yoga is not to rush. You are meant to move slowly and deliberately into each pose then hold it.
Lower Back Rotational Stretch
This is the perfect way to stretch after you finish several yoga posts. Any tension in your back will be relieved by the time you finish the lower back rotational stretch. Make sure you repeat the exercise with the other leg. You should rotate both to the right and left side.
It is key to remember to move slowly. You are not supposed to quickly rotate your legs from one side of the floor to the other. This is a relaxing exercise that should help you feel better once you are done.
In addition to relieving pain, it can help you relax at the end of the day. Taking the time to breathe deeply and just focus on stretching can help you let go of other stressors.
Seated Lower Back Rotational Stretches
This one is similar to the last one, but you can do it while you are at work without having to lie on the floor. You don’t need to get out of your chair, but you will need to adjust your position.
Again, move slowly and with focus. You aren’t supposed to swing your upper body because that is very likely to make any pain worse.
The Bird Dog and Dead Bug
These are two different exercises, but they are similar, just from different angles.
The bird dog is done with your hands and knees on the floor, and you will be reaching with one arm and the opposite leg. It does require a bit of balance. Every movement should be done deliberately instead of rushing through it. Moving slowly is what builds muscles and keeps you from straining your back.
The dead bug is done on your back. Instead of bringing your arm and knee together, you bring your hand and foot toward each other. You don’t have to touch them if that is too much. Move slowly and deliberately focusing on the movement.
For both exercises, do between 10 and 15 repetitions.
Pelvic Tilts and Progressive Stomach Strengthening Exercises
The pelvic tilt is another exercise to reduce back pain that also focuses on strengthening your stomach. Since lower back pain is usually caused by weaker stomach muscles, doing this exercise will help to relieve the stress almost immediately.
Have a towel or small pillow ready to put under your back when you do this. The move is very subtle, and you are primarily just engaging your stomach muscles. From most angles, it won’t look like you are doing anything.
Once you have mastered the pelvic tilt, you can progress to a few other exercises that will make your stomach muscles toner. They will provide more support to your back even when you are simply sitting at your work desk.
Before you move on to the next exercise, make sure you are adept at doing pelvic tilts. This isn’t about progressing quickly to the next exercise. Take the time to get it right, even if it takes months.
When Rest Is the Right Solution
Sometimes what your back needs is a bit more rest. Lying down can help to stretch your back after sitting or standing all day. It is recommended for severe pain, but it should be kept to a minimum. After all, being sedentary is what led to the pain.
If your back is causing your extreme discomfort or pain, there is actually a right way to alleviate that pain when you rest. A bed or sofa is fine, but you will need to make some adjustments to make sure you aren’t further straining your back.
The following are the different ways to minimize the pain if you are put on bed rest.
- Place pillows between your knees and under your head if you are resting on your side.
- Place pillows under your knees and your head if you are lying flat on your back.
- Place a pillow under your hips if you chose to lie on your stomach.
Bed rest is not recommended for pain that is dull, low, or moderate. Spending a lot of time in a bed will create other problems that could also exacerbate the pain.
Sometimes the best thing to do is to just lie down for a few minutes and stretch your back. You spend all day with your back in one of a few positions. Lying down and stretching your back can be a great way to reduce low to moderate pain.
Dr. Brent Wells
Dr. Brent Wells, D.C. is the founder of Better Health Chiropractic & Physical Rehab and is widely considered as the top chiropractor in Alaska. His practice has treated thousands of patients from different health problems using various services designed to help give you long-lasting relief.
Dr. Wells is also the author of over 700 online health articles that have been featured on sites such as Dr. Axe and Lifehack. He is a proud member of the American Chiropractic Association and the American Academy of Spine Physicians. And he continues his education to remain active and updated in all studies related to neurology, physical rehab, biomechanics, spine conditions, brain injury trauma, and more.