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Sweating Your Way Back To Health: Exercises To Strengthen Your Back And Reduce Pain
Jul 10, 2017
If you’re living with back pain resulting from an injury or lifestyle factors, gentle exercise may be effective in strengthening the muscles in your back and reducing your pain levels.
Before starting an exercise regimen, consult your physician to make sure you’re healthy enough for such exercise and to ensure you’re engaging in the best practices for your health your doctor’s guidance. If you experience pain during a stretch, don’t overextend yourself. It’s okay to stop. These exercises are not meant to make athletes out of the injured. A gentle stretch is all you need to start experiencing some of the benefits of the poses. You’ll need a yoga or exercise mat for these exercises.
Triangle pose is great for strengthening and stretching your back. Begin standing on your mat. Stand with your feet about 4 feet apart. Bring your arms up to shoulder level, outstretched to the sides, palms down. Rotate your left foot to the right just a few degrees and turn your right foot away from you at 90 degrees, parallel to the edge of your mat. Breathe in and extend your upper body down over your right leg, bending from your hip joints. Bring your right hand down to the floor, your foot, ankle or shin. Reach your left hand up toward the ceiling and look up toward your left hand. Hold the pose for up to a minute, breathing slowly and evenly. Feel an excellent stretch in your hamstrings, hips, groin and calves, as well as your shoulders and spine. Come back up to standing and repeat the process on the left side of your body.
Cat and Cow Stretch
Doing a series of cat and cow poses is excellent for easing tension in the spine. Begin on your hands and knees. Your hands should be aligned under your shoulders and your knees should be below your hips. Beginning with the cow stretch, inhale and drop your core toward the floor. Bring your chin and chest up and look toward the ceiling. Widen your shoulders away from your head. As you exhale, move into cat pose by turning your gaze toward the floor and draw in your abdomen, rounding your back upward toward the ceiling (the pose looks like a cat stretching its back). As you inhale, move back into the cow stretch. Repeat the process for several minutes, breathing and moving slowly and evenly.
Begin on hands and knees with your hands below your shoulders and knees below your hips. Widen your palms and turn your toes under. As you exhale, lengthen your knees and bring them away from the floor, keeping them bent. Lift your pelvic area toward the ceiling as you straighten your legs. As you exhale, lengthen your legs, but don’t lock them; push back on your heels toward the floor. Feel your shoulders widen and stretch. You can hold the pose up to a few minutes. Only hold it as long as you’re comfortable.
You can move directly from downward facing dog into child’s pose. From downward dog, bring your knees to the floor with your big toes together. Move your knees hip-width apart. As you breathe out, bring your upper body down toward the mat. Feel your spine lengthen as you allow your tailbone to sink back beyond the pelvis. You can leave your arms outstretched as pictured or bring them back next to your torso, palms up. Doing this will widen your shoulders for an extra stretch. Child’s pose is a relaxing pose, so you can hold this one as long as you like, up to a few minutes.
Seated Forward Fold
Begin sitting on your mat with your legs outstretched before you. It’s okay to bend your knees if you’re not already flexible. Inhale and reach your arms out and upward. As you exhale, bend forward toward your toes, bending from your hips. Lengthen your upper body and reach down to your feet, toes, ankles or shins–whatever your body will allow. You can add a yoga strap or belt as a variation on this pose. A strap will allow you to deepen your stretch if you can’t reach very far into the posture. As you inhale, continue to lengthen your upper body. As you exhale, continue to fold deeper toward the floor. You can hold this pose for up to a minute.
If conservative measures like exercise, pain management and nonsurgical treatments fail to make a significant impact on your pain levels, talk with your doctor about what other options you might explore. At Back Pain Centers of America (BPC) we understand that deciding on whether surgery is the right choice is not an easy conclusion to come to. We can match you with a board-certified spine specialist near you who can provide the expert care you need, advising you on your best options and offering minimally invasive treatments when appropriate. Call us today at [sc name=”patient_phone_number_dash”] to learn more about how we can help you on the road to recovery.