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Top 10 Exercises To Relieve Back Pain

Top 10 Exercises To Relieve Back Pain

Haven't we all experienced back pain before? Nearly 65 million Americans report a recent episode of back pain, and experts estimate that nearly 80% of the population will experience back pain at some point in their lives. The debilitating pain and discomfort caused by a sore back can affect our everyday lives and dampen our ability to enjoy the many activities life has to offer.

Physical therapy and chiropractor treatments may help in fixing the pain, but packages can be expensive and not everyone can afford them. Back pain problems can be caused by a multitude of causes, and unless the back injury is severe, most back pain issues can be reduced significantly with consistent stretches and exercises. Only discipline and determination are required to ensure you stick through with it until you see improvement. Here are several exercises you can do to alleviate back pain from the comfort of your home and without having to spend a single cent.

Child's Pose

Image of a woman doing the child's pose

The child’s pose stretches the spine, hips, thighs and ankles and relieves tension on the lower back, hamstrings and shoulders. It loosens the hip muscles and helps you relax your mind and reduces anxiety and fatigue. This pose also increases blood circulation to your head, and helps in digestion and reduces bloating.

To do this pose, kneel on your mat and sit on your knees, then lean forward with outstretched arms and rest your forehead on the floor. Do this for about 30 seconds to 1 minute and feel the stretch on your muscles while you breathe slowly and deeply.

Knee to Chest

Image of a woman doing the knee to chest pose to relieve back pain

The knee to chest stretch is used to stretch your hip and low back muscles. It also helps relieve pressure on spinal nerves by creating more space for those nerves as they exit the spine. This has the overall effect of reducing pain, improving stability of the lower pelvis, and increasing the range of motion.

To perform this stretch simply lie down facing up with your knees bent and with both feet flat on the floor. Bring one knee to your chest, while keeping the other foot flat on the floor (or the other leg straight, whichever feels better on your lower back). You can vary the pose by bringing both knees up to the chest. Keep your lower back pressed to the floor while doing this. Hold this pose for at least 15 to 30 seconds before stretching your legs.

Sphinx

Image of a woman doing the sphinx pose to relieve back pain and sciatica

This simple and gentle backbend is suitable for most beginners. This pose not only helps relieve back pain, but also includes other benefits such as stretching and strengthening the spine, stretching the chest, lungs, shoulders and abdomen, and also relieving anxiety and stress.

To perform this pose, simply lay on your stomach with your forearms propping your chest up. Lower the small of your back into the ground while lifting your chest up and keeping your back arched. Your butt and pelvis should remain in contact with the floor. You should feel your shoulder muscles and low back muscles working.

Threading the Needle

Image of a woman doing the threading the needle pose to stretch the spine and reduce back pain

The ‘threading the needle’ pose relieves back pain and opens the shoulders and stretches the spine. It stretches the chest and shoulders, and loosens the muscles in the lower back. It also relaxes the muscles and relieves tension in the upper back between the shoulder blades, and helps relieve shoulder pain.

To do this pose, start in a neutral position on all fours, keep your knees under your hips and your hands under your shoulders. Move your left arm under your chest toward the mat. Your torso should naturally shift to face downward. Keep both knees and your left arm firmly grounded for support. Continue to slide your left arm onto the mat, allowing your left shoulder to rest on the mat. Extend your right arm overhead so your fingertips touch the mat, and rest the left side of your head on the mat. Hold the pose for 30 seconds to 1 minute, and focusing on your breathing. Repeat on the other side.

Piriformis Stretch

Image of woman doing the piriformis stretch to stretch the hamstrings and relief back pain and sciatica

Are you suffering from sciatica? Are you experiencing pain on your butt when sitting too long? The Piriformis Stretch will stretch your tight muscles, relieve hip and back pain and stretch your hamstrings, groin muscles and hip flexors. In addition, it can also help stimulate your internal organs, and aid those with urinary dysfunction.

To do this stretch, first lie on the floor, bend your legs at 90 degrees with both feet firmly on the ground. Then cross your right leg over the left. With both hands, reach under your left thigh and begin to slowly pull up your left leg. You will feel the stretch on the right hamstring as you pull. Repeat the same for the other side. Do this for about 30 seconds to 1 minute.

Seated Spinal Twist

Image of a woman doing the seated spinal twist to alleviate back pain

The seated spinal twist is a restorative yoga pose that stretches the upper body and helps to relieve lower back pain, sciatica, and menstrual discomfort. It also helps improve digestion and the processing of the liver and kidney functions. Other benefits include helping to tone the belly, massage internal organs and improves mobility of the spine. The twisting movement also helps to lengthen the spine and increase the space between the inter-vertebral discs. This helps in decompression, and relieves pressure on the spinal nerves. Do this for 30 seconds to 1 minute and almost immediately you'll feel relaxed and invigorated!

To do the seated spinal twist, sit straight on the mat with the left leg outstretched. Bend your right leg 90 degrees and cross it over your left leg. Wrap your left arm over your right knees, then slowly and gently twist your upper body to the right, while placing your right hand on the floor behind your body for balance. Repeat the same for the opposite side.

Cat Cow Pose

Image of a woman doing the cat and cow pose for back pain relief

The Cat Cow pose helps to stretch your spine by opening the gaps between the vertebrae, making you feel energized and rejuvenated with improved blood circulation. This stretch releases tension on both your lower and upper back, and relieves back pain. It also helps relief anxiety and calms your mind. The repeated motion also increases the flexibility on your neck, shoulders and spine, and improves coordination, mental stability, overall mobility and movement.

The Cat Cow pose can be divided into 2 parts, the inbreath (Cow pose), and the outbreath (Cat pose). This exercise transits between these 2 poses. To start, get in position on all fours, with the shoulders over the wrists, and knees beneath your hips. To commence with the cow pose, as you breathe in, bring the belly down, arch your lower back, and roll the shoulders up, and look up at the sky. The cat pose is the reverse of the cow pose. As you breath out, tug your belly in, arch your back and ribcage up and look down at your navel.

Bridging

Image of a woman doing the bridging exercise

Bridging is an effective way to build core strength and abdominal muscles. It improves your balance and flexibility and helps reduce back pain. It also helps to strengthen your gluteus (butt) muscles. So if you're experiencing piriformis syndrome or sciatica, having pain in your butt while sitting or climbing the stairs, bridging is a great way to deal with that. Overall, bridging is one of the core strength building exercises that can help you carry your upper body weight with better agility and mobility. With greater core strength, you're able to do physical activities and exercises you never thought you could do. Moreover, bridging helps you improve your mental wellbeing, keeps you motivated and more importantly, makes you happy.

To perform the bridge exercise, lie down on your back, with knees bent and toes facing forward. Keep your hands by your side with palms facing down. Tighten your glutes and tummy muscles and take a deep breath in. As you exhale, start to slowly roll up your tailbone, and raise your tummy and upper body. Try to aim for a flat line from your knees to your chest. Hold it there for about 10 seconds to 1 minute, then exhale as you slowly roll back down to the floor.

Planking

Image of an elderly woman doing the planking exercise to strengthen core muscles

Planking is one of the more effective exercises in building core strength. It increases your body's flexibility and stability, and improves balance, coordination and mobility. It improves the body's alignment and posture, and builds a heathy mind, body and soul. With increased core strength, the body is then able to carry its weight better, allowing you to partake in more strenuous physical activities with less difficulty, and with stronger muscles wrapping around nerves, you're better able to cope with issues like chronic back pain and sciatica.

To do the plank, lay on the floor with your elbows under your shoulders. Keep your hands flat on the floor and core muscles engaged. With your forearms and toes on the floor slowly raise yourself upwards until your body is in a straight line from your toes to your head. Hold the position for between 10 to 30 seconds before lowering yourself down. Repeat this several times.

Quadratus Lumborum (QL) Stretch

Image of a woman doing the Quadratus Lumborum (QL) stretch to help loosen tight muscles and relieve back pain

The Quadratus Lumborum (QL) is an abdominal muscle that's located in the lower back on either side of the lumbar spine. It supports good posture and helps stabilize your spine when you bend to the side or extend your lower back. Many times through daily activities the QL becomes tight and is often overlooked as a main contributor of lower back pain. Pain caused from the QL can be described as a dull aching pain which can become sharp when triggered from specific movements, or even when coughing or sneezing. Incorporating QL stretches into your workout routine helps improve flexibility in your lower back and sides and allows you a wider range of movement without feeling the pain, and also helps prevent further back injuries.

To do the QL stretch from a standing position, stand with both feet slightly apart, then raise both arms with your hands together. Stand straight and arch your lower back, then slowly bend your upper body to right side. You will feel the stretch on your left QL. Hold it there for about 10 to 30 seconds. Move your body back to the upright position, and repeat the same for the opposite side.


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