A strong back can withstand more stress and protect the spine better than a back that has not been strengthened through exercise. Strengthening your back through flexibility training and exercise can help you avoid injury and minimize the severity of spine trauma. It can also help relieve the pain of many back conditions. Below are some pain relief tips to strengthen your back and improve your spine’s health.
Good posture is an easy and essential way to maintain a healthy and strong your back. When you practice correct posture, your body is in alignment with itself. This can alleviate common problems such as back or neck pain, headaches, and fatigue. Being in good general health and standing (or sitting) tall will also boost your bearing and self confidence.
Many back exercises can help strengthen the spinal column and the supporting muscles, ligaments and tendons. Most of these back exercises focus not only on the back, but also the abdominal (stomach) muscles, gluteus (buttocks) and hip muscles. Below are a few exercises you can do to strengthen your back:
Lunge: This exercise improves whole-body control, which is key to protecting the spine during walking, running, or stair-climbing. This exercise works both surface and deeper stabilizing muscles along the sides, glutes, hamstrings, quads and calves.
With your abs gently contracted and hands on hips, take a big step forward with your right foot. Sink down so your right knee is at a 90-degree angle, then push back to the starting position without pausing. Repeat 8 to 12 times, then switch legs and repeat.
Hip Bridge: This move counteracts the effects of too much chair time, which puts excessive pressure on the spine. It stretches the hip flexors and strengthens the muscles that stabilize the spine, including those of the lower back, the gluteals and the large, stabilizing abdominal muscles.
Lie on your back, feet flat and hip-width apart, arms relaxed, and knees bent. Squeeze your buttocks as you lift your hips, creating a straight line from the knees to the shoulders. Hold for a slow count of two, then lower slowly. Build up to 10 to 12 repetitions.
Bird Dog: This exercise improves muscle balance and coordination, making it easier to keep the spine stable for everyday moves, such as walking, running, dancing and carrying a child. It also tones your glutes, upper back, lower spine and hamstrings. Tighter abs also keep the spine supported.
Begin on all fours, knees hip-width apart and under the hips, hands flat and shoulder-width apart. Squeeze your abs by pulling belly toward spine. Keep the spine neutral, without arching the back or rotating the hips, and extend your right leg back and your left arm straight ahead. Hold for two to three seconds or as long as you can maintain form. Repeat five to six times on each side.
You can strengthen your back using a mix of dynamic and static stretches as well as elements of yoga. Perform the following stretches as often as you like, modifying whenever necessary to fit your own personal fitness level and goals.
Sun Salutation: Begin in a standing position and exhale as you sweep the arms up and overhead. Exhale and engage the abs as you tip from the hips and lower into a forward bend, with hands on the floor or feet–bend the knees if you need to. Inhale and come up until the back is flat and exhale into forward bend. Inhale and come back up, sweeping the arms overhead until palms touch. Repeat the series 4 to 8 times.
Torso Twists: Stand with feet wide, knees bent and bring the arms up in front of the chest. Slowly twist the torso to the right, squeezing the abs, then twist to the left repeating for about 15 reps on each side. Keep the movement slow and controlled, only rotating as far as your flexibility will allow.
Standing Cat Stretch: Lower into a squat with the hands on the thighs, back arched. Pull the abs in and round the back up towards the ceiling. Lower and repeat 15 times.
People who suffer from back pain should choose low-impact exercises that do not increase stress on the spinal vertebrae or other joints. Aquatic exercise is a low-impact activity that takes the pressure off your bones, joints and muscles. Water offers natural resistance, which helps strengthen your muscles. For a full list of aquatic exercises you can perform, visit the Mayo Clinic website.
It may seem counterintuitive, but weightlifting and strengthening exercises can actually reduce back pain. The point isn’t to bulk up like a body builder but to develop back strength. The muscles in your back help keep your spine moving as it should.
If you have a weak back or weak abdominal muscles, you could be more prone to back strain. Strong, healthy back muscles are also important because they’re associated with your posture. And as we’ve already mentioned, chronic back pain can be a result of poor posture. Below are some weightlifting techniques guaranteed to strengthen your back:
Chest Flies: Chest flies are excellent for building muscle in the upper back and chest. You’ll need a set of dumbbells, but you can also do this move on certain exercise machines for your upper body. To do this move:
- Lie on the floor with your knees bent and your feet flat on the ground.
- Extend your arms out to either side of your body, and let them rest on the floor.
- Using a dumbbell in each hand, raise the dumbbells so they meet at the top of your chest at the same time, while keeping a slight bend in your elbows.
- Lower your hands to the ground, and repeat.
- Repeat this exercise 15 times, at least 3 times a week. You can gradually build up to doing more repetitions as you get more familiar with the movement.
Lateral Raises: Lateral raises help strengthen the entire back. All you’ll need is a set of dumbbells. To do this move:
- Stand with your feet hip-distance apart. Arms should be at your side.
- Holding a dumbbell in each of your hands and with a slight bend in your elbows, slowly raise your arms to the side until they reach shoulder height. Keep your core engaged during the entire movement.
- Once you reach shoulder height, slowly lower the dumbbells, then repeat.
- Repeat this exercise 15 times 3 times a week. As you become more familiar with the movement, you can build up to doing more repetitions.
Pain Relief Tips
At Dynamic Health, our pain management protocols incorporate a combination of medical diagnostics, rehabilitative treatment options and chiropractic spinal adjustments.
This approach allows us to deliver pain relief as quickly as possible, stabilize your condition and address the root cause of your pain, minimizing the likelihood of reoccurrence. If you or a loved one suffer from back pain, and pain relief tips aren’t enough, it’s time to stop suffering and start living again.
To learn more about the benefits of pain management treatments, call Dynamic Health at 704-525-6288 to schedule a consultation. Our spine specialists can effectively address your back pain problems. You can also like our Facebook page and follow us on Twitter!