Many suffer from chronic daily or near-daily back pain. Luckily, there are simple low-impact exercises that can be done daily to relieve back pain quickly and easily.
Most of the exercises covered here are more stretches than what one would normally think of as exercise. Any exercise that stretches the back or upper leg muscles is vastly beneficial for relieving back pain, so do not feel restricted to only these.
Low-Impact Exercise for Back Pain
Just as important as any stretches, is the simplest sort of exercise one can do: walking. Walking is very important for back health and to reduce or prevent chronic back pain. Although the ultimate goal should be to walk two to three miles, three times a week, however much can be accomplished will help, even if it is significantly below that level.
Also useful are several other kinds of low-impact aerobic type exercises; elliptical or step machines, bicycling (mobile or stationary), or even water therapy.
Basic Back Pain Stretches
All of these exercises begin with laying on a flat surface, back as flat as possible, and legs bent with feet flat on the floor. This makes them ideal to perform each morning upon waking, before getting out of bed.
- Slowly lower both knees to the left, while keeping shoulders flat on the ground (or bed). Stretch as far to the left as possible, as close to the ground as possible. Hold ten seconds, then return knees upright. Do the same to the right side, then repeat.
- Lift one leg, pulling it up towards the chest as far as possible. Use arms to assist pulling it up if necessary. Hold for approximately thirty seconds. Repeat with opposite leg, and then with both at the same time. Chin may be lowered towards chin to increase the stretch.
- Straighten out one leg, leaving the other bent, tighten the abdominal muscles, then slowly lift the straightened leg six to twelve inches off the ground. Hold 5-10 seconds. Repeat 10-12 times, then do the same with the opposite leg.
- Cross one leg over the other, and gently pull both knees towards the chest, using arms to assist if necessary, until a stretch is felt in the glutes and/or lower back. Repeat with opposite leg on top.
- Arch back as far as possible while keeping hips and shoulders on the ground, rotating the hips downwards, towards the feet. Hold for five to ten seconds, before lying flat again. Tighten the abdominal muscles downward, and rock the hips in the opposite direction, lifting slightly, towards the head. Hold five to ten seconds, then lie flat again. Repeat five times.
Intermediate Back Pain Stretches
- Lay flat on the ground (or bed), knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Lift hips off of the ground, leaving head and shoulders in place, so that a straight line is formed from shoulders to knees. Hold ten to fifteen seconds, then lower hips back to the ground. Repeat.
- While on hands and knees, arch back up towards the ceiling as far as possible. Hold for at least five seconds. Reverse the arch, letting stomach sag towards the floor as far as possible, and hold. Repeat twice.
- While sitting or standing, lower the chin as far towards the chest as possible, until a stretch is felt in the back and neck. Hold for five to ten seconds, then raise the head. Very gentle pressure can be applied with the hands to increase the stretch. Repeat to left, and to right, then repeat the entire sequence twice more.
- While sitting on a stool or armless chair, cross left leg over right. Place right elbow against knee to brace, then gently back and shoulders to the left. Hold for several seconds, then do the same to the right. Repeat.
- While sitting on a stool or armless chair, place one leg on a surface of equal height. Bend down over the leg, stretching towards toes, until a stretch is felt in the hamstrings and/or back. Hold for several seconds, then repeat with opposite leg.
- While sitting on a stool or armless chair, tuck chin slightly towards the chest, then flex shoulders back to draw shoulder blades together. Hold for several seconds, relax, then repeat five times.
Advanced Back Pain Stretches
- Stand with back flat against a wall. Move feet about one foot out from the wall. Lower down against the wall until the knees are bent about 45 degrees. Hold for at least half a minute, then straighten. Repeat five times.
- Lie near the edge of a surface, such as a bed. Tuck knees up towards the chin. Slowly lower one leg, still bent, as far as possible, until a stretch is felt in the front of the thigh. Tuck leg up to chest again, then repeat with opposite leg. Repeat five times.
- Stand in front of a sturdy surface, such as a desk or table, with feet about shoulders’ width apart. Bend forward, keeping back straight, until torso is at a 45-degree angle to the legs, and brace with hands. Slowly lift one leg backward, until it is as close to parallel to the ground as possible. Hold five to ten seconds, then lower leg. Repeat on opposite side, for a total of five repetitions on each side.
Things to Remember
Never stretch to the point of actual pain, only do what is comfortable.
Don’t overdo it! If unused to any kind of stretching or exercise, only do two or three of these exercises, to begin with. If you are suffering from lower back pain due to sitting too much at work, in addition to using simple stretching techniques, an accessory can help you relax your lower back and from which to ease the pain – that is a support pillow. Take a look at the high-quality lumbar support pillows shared by HealthEssential to pick the right one for you.
If back pain is severe, check with a doctor before starting even a mild exercise or stretching regimen.