Exercises To Free You From Back Pain

Photo credit: bigstock.com

Photo credit: bigstock.com

Back pain is one of the most common forms of health complaints in the developed world. Some might think this is the result of hard physical labor, and yes, this can lead to injury. But the most common reason for back pain is not too much physical activity- but the failure to get enough.

Before discussing which exercises will solve the problem, let’s talk about what the biggest contributor to the back pain epidemic is: a sedentary life style.

People spend entirely too much time sitting down, whether it’s in front of the computer at work, stuck in traffic on the commute home, or on the couch watching TV, Sitting has become the default “activity” most people do during the day.


The problems with being sedentary

Most people would be surprised to learn that sitting can actually be tough on your spine. Studies have shown that sitting compresses the spine more than standing, putting up to 40% more pressure on the spine than when standing upright.

Prolonged sitting can, over time, lead to muscle atrophy in key areas of the body. The iliacus, quadratus lumborum and psoas muscles can become shortened from too much sitting. These muscles connect to the lumbar region (where the back meets the pelvis) and when they are too short, it creates a muscle imbalance. When you stand up the weakened muscles cannot support your weight properly, and the backbone is pulled forward, which creates back pain.

Another issue may be the chair you’re spending so much time in. If the chair does not offer proper back support, or if you’re slouching and sitting improperly, it will contribute to persistent, chronic back pain.

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Photo credit: bigstock.com

Photo credit: bigstock.com

Exercises for Back Pain

We’ve established that sitting is the primarily culprit as far as back pain is concerned. So what do we do about it?

The answer is physical activity.

What type of exercise is right for you will depend on your specific physiology, health conditions, and other factors that can’t be ascertained through an article. But the following are general guidelines about which activities can benefit those suffering from back pain. Talk with a personal trainer, chiropractor, or physician about which ones are right for you.

  • Yoga – all forms of yoga have seen a surge of popularity in recent years. Yoga has been shown to have all sorts of health benefits, including lowering blood pressure and improving flexibility. But the benefit that will interest those with back pain is how yoga strengthens the core muscles. Weakness and imbalance in the lower back and abdominal muscles is the primary contributor to back pain.
  • Stretching – If yoga is a little too intense for you, it may interest you to know that a recent study showed that prolonged simple stretching can be just as good for back pain. However, it’s important to make sure you are stretching in the correct manner. The wrong types of stretches could actually increase pain. Speak to a trainer in detail about your pain and he or she can help you pick the movements that are right for you.
  • Tai Chi – This Chinese form of exercise can be very helpful for alleviating back pain. Tai Chi is a martial art that combines exercise and mediation. The practitioner is constantly in motion, essentially making it a sort of “moving meditation”.
  • Bodyweight, Aerobic and Resistance Training – There are a variety of exercises that will strengthen the key muscle groups to help eliminate imbalances that lead to pain. Bodyweight exercises like bridging, wall sits, press-up back extensions and bird dogs will help strengthen the back muscles. Partial crunches are also good, but avoid doing full movement ones, as these can strain the back too much. Pilates and aerobic exercises like swimming can also help strengthen the core.

Weight training can be beneficial for back pain as well. It is important to use proper form when lifting weights. When the lifts are performed properly, they can be quite helpful. But if not, they could make injuries or chronic back pain worse. Ask a doctor which exercises are safe for you to perform.

The most important thing to keep in mind here is that being more active in any form will help with back pain. Just going for a walk can help, as long as it gets you off your feet.


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In most cases back pain is the result of lifestyle choices. This means it is within your power to make different choices that will turn this condition around. With the exercises outlined here, you can start doing that today.