How many times in your life have you heard the words, "my back hurts"? Probably more than you can count! The good news is that you've probably been a good friend and sharing advice like, "stretch it out!" The bad news is that stretching is not the answer to relieve back pain instantly!
The muscles that support your spine have a length and tension relationship that when balanced, allow optimal and efficient function of your spine. Unfortunately, due to the modern sedentary lifestyle, these length and tensions are frequently compromised, which periodically result in the straining of the spinal muscles.
More often than not, the immediate response to a spasm or back pain is to stretch – but this is simply untrue! The muscles are already too stretched out and instead need to be rebalanced, so that the proper length and tension relationships can be restored.
How do you rebalance your back then? Try these simple exercises today to kick-start the process of rebalancing the strained muscles, and ease your chronic back pain for good:
Supine Hip Extension, AKA The Bridge
1. First, find a sturdy surface (preferably a yoga mat) and lie flat on your back with your arms down by your side.
2. With bent knees, place your feet hip width apart at a comfortable distance from your backside.
3. Bend your arms to a 90 degree angle, with your knuckles facing up.
4. Pull your shoulders down toward the floor (chest will lift automatically).
5. Lift your hips up using all contact points, keeping your elbows tight to the floor. Make sure to keep your head relaxed and remember to breath normally.
6. Hold this position for 30 seconds to a minute or until you feel tired.
7. Repeat 2-3 times and/or lower only your backside to the floor and back up 10-25 times resting after each set (3 sets maximum).
This is a safe and affective exercise that will improve the overall functionality of your shoulder, hips and spine when done consistently.
Press-Up Back Extensions
This exercise is designed to help strengthen your lower back muscles and although comes with a complicated name, is very easy to do.
1. Lie on your stomach with your hands under your shoulders with your palms flat on the floor. (Imagine a grasshoppers legs, this is how your arms should look).
2. Push with your hands so that your shoulders begin to lift off of the floor.
3. If it is comfortable for you, place your elbows on the floor directly under your shoulders and hold this position for several seconds.
4. Repeat 2-4 times.
Exercises To Avoid
As with stretching, some exercises can make back pain worse. It is important to avoid touching your toes, performing full range sit-ups and leg lifts. If you are experiencing neurological symptoms such as shooting pain, increased urination or foot drop, please consult a specialist immediately before performing any of the exercises recommended.
Why is this basic knowledge an asset? According to the British Association of Spine Surgeons, 80% of people experience back pain during their lifetime and as many as 50% will have an episode of back pain in any one year. Therefore, it is important that we are equipped with the right information in the probable event that we ourselves, or someone close to us suffers from acute back pain at some point. So before you stretch it out, remember to work it out with the few simple exercises you now have up your sleeve!