Exercises for Back Pain

Kathryn Vera
Back Pain

Back pain is not only uncomfortable, but can actually interfere with work and family life. So it should come as no surprise that finding ​a remedy is a priority for many individuals. While there are a number of medical treatments that can be used to solve this condition, engaging in regular physical activity that includes both resistance and flexibility training may be​ appropriate for many people.

Lower Back

According to Health Day, nearly 10 percent of the U.S. population suffers from lower back pain. Fortunately, both resistance training and flexibility exercises have been proven to be effective when it comes to alleviating this condition.

Bottom to Heels Stretch

According to National Health Service Choices, bottom to​ heels stretch is a good choice for individuals who are interested in alleviating lower back pain. To perform the exercise properly:

  1. Kneel on your hands and knees, with your hands directly below your ​shoulders and knees directly below your hips.
  2. Slowly press your bottom backwards and down, bringing it to your heels if possible.
  3. Take one deep breath.
  4. Return to your starting position.

For optimal results, perform eight to ten repetitions of the exercise, at least once per day. Individuals who are experiencing severe pain can make the​ exercise easier by ​​stretching only to the point of resistance.

Supermans

Supermans are an excellent exercise when it comes to treating lower back pain, notes the American College of Sports Medicine in "Guidelines for Exercise Testing and Prescription" (page 234). To perform the exercise properly:

  1. Lay on your stomach on the ground.
  2. Reach your arms in front of you and extend your legs behind you.
  3. Slowly lift both arms and legs off the ground at the same time, keeping them as straight as possible.
  4. Hold for five seconds.
  5. Slowly lower your arms and legs back to their starting position.

​For optimal results, perform​ eight to 10 repetitions of the exercise, at least once per day. To make the exercise less difficult, hold the pose for only one second, then release.

Modified Toe Touches

While modified toe touches can look intimidating, they are an excellent choice for individuals with lower back pain, reports the American College of Sports Medicine (page 289). In fact, this exercise helps stretch lower back muscles, alleviating current aches and soreness. It also helps to build greater muscle mass, thus preventing future injury. To perform the exercise properly:

  1. Stand on a stable surface, with ​your feet a hip's-width distance apart, and your toes facing forward.
  2. Flex your knees slightly.
  3. Bend at the waist, pushing your hips and buttocks behind you and dropping your arms and hands as close to the floor as possible.
  4. Slowly return to a standing position, using ​the muscles in your lower back to stand up straight.

​For optimal results, perform eight to 10 repetitions of the exercise, at least once per day. To make the exercise less difficult, stretch only to the point of discomfort.

Upper Back

While less common, upper back pain is no less uncomfortable. As with lower back pain, resistance and flexibility exercises can be a good solution for individuals who suffer from upper back pain.

Shoulder Blade Squeeze

The Mayo Clinic identifies the shoulder blade squeeze as a good choice for adults who are looking for a remedy for painful upper back discomfort. ​To perform the exercise properly:

  1. Sit on a chair that does not have any arms.
  2. Maintain good posture.
  3. Squeeze your shoulder blades together, pretending you are trying to grip a piece of paper with the shoulder blades.
  4. Hold for five seconds, then release.

For optimal results, perform three to five repetitions, twice per day. Those who are suffering from severe pain may want to decrease the amount of time​ that they hold the squeeze. ​

Shoulder Blade Squeeze Exercise
Shoulder Blade Squeeze Exercise

Row With Elastic Tubing

The row with elastic tubing is also appropriate for individuals who are looking for relief from upper back pain, notes the Summit Medical Group. To perform the exercise properly:

  1. Secure the middle of elastic tubing around an immobile object, approximately at shoulder height.
  2. Grasp each end of the elastic tubing.
  3. Step backwards until your arms are extended vertically at shoulder height.
  4. Simultaneously pull backwards on the bands, squeezing your shoulder blades together as you do so.
  5. Release your arms back to their starting position.

For optimal results, perform 12 to 15 repetitions, twice per day. Those suffering from severe pain may want to use an elastic tube that features a lower resistance level.

Pectoralis Stretch

People who suffer from upper back pain can also experience relief by performing the pectoralis stretch. To perform this exercise properly:

  1. Stand in an open doorway.
  2. Working one arm at a time, hold your arm out to the side parallel to the floor and bend your elbow 90 degrees. Put your forearm against the door.
  3. Carefully lean forward​ until you begin to feel a stretch in your shoulders and upper back.
  4. Hold the pose for 15 to 30 seconds, then release. Repeat on the other side.

​For optimal results, perform this exercise three times per day. In cases of severe back pain, stretch only to the point at which the pain begins to occur.

Pain No More

No one wants to experience pain. Instead of popping a pill or heading to the chiropractor, the next time your back starts to act up, consider some of these exercises.

Exercises for Back Pain