That creaking and moaning isn’t your elderly grandmother getting off the couch, it’s you, wincing in pain as you reach down to pick something up. Approximately one-quarter of US adults report low back pain on a regular basis, and low back pain is the fifth most common reason for doctor’s visits in the US.
With so many aching backs in this country, there’s got to be a better solution than just getting through an episode. Scott & White Healthcare Wellness Program Manager, Alexander Hainzinger, offers some tips on how to use exercise to care and even improve your suffering spine.
“Some of the best exercises to help relieve back pain are exercises that strengthen and stretch your muscles in an effort to prevent back pain from reoccurring,” Mr. Hainzinger said.
Here are a few exercises you might like to try if you’re suffering from back pain.
1. Pelvic Tilts
Raise your buttocks half an inch and hold the position for 10 seconds.
2. Abdominal Curls
Put your hands across your chest and slowly raise and lower your shoulders 10 inches.
3. Knee-to-Chest Stretches
Bring your knees to your chest one at a time while lying on your back.
4. Sitting Leg Stretches
Move both hands slowly from each knee to the same leg’s ankle while you’re sitting. Make sure your legs are as far apart as possible.
5. Hip and Quadriceps Stretches
Pull a bent leg at a 90-degree angle toward your buttocks while you’re standing on your other leg.
“If you have bad lower back pain, aerobic exercises may also benefit you,” Mr. Hainzinger said. “Aerobic exercise can keep you functional when in pain and can even help to decrease chronic back pain.”
Why are these exercises so effective?
The wellness program manager said that when you exercise and are active, your body releases endorphins. These endorphins help to reduce pain and improve mood.
“Alongside stretching and doing various muscle-building exercises, choosing a low-impact aerobic exercise like biking, swimming or walking can also help relieve back pains,” he said.
In some cases patients have seen such an improvement with exercising and stretching that they have been able to stop taking or limit the amount of pain medication they are taking.
“Exercising might help your back build up the strength it needs to keep the pain away,” Mr. Hainzinger said. “For many people medication is just an easy fix. By popping an Advil, you aren’t helping your back at all. You’re simply limiting your body’s pain reception.”
What causes back pain?
Many people suffer from chronic back pain due to inactivity. Either they are sitting at a desk all day with bad posture or wearing flat shoes.
“This is why I make a point to get up from my desk and take a break to walk around the office or outside if the weather is nice. It makes a big difference,” he said.
Although exercising can help to alleviate back pain, you should always check with your doctor before beginning an exercise regimen or stopping any medications.
“But if your doctor recommends exercise as a healthy alternative to medication, then give exercise a try,” Mr. Hainzinger said.