Back pain is no joke. It can prevent us from moving around easily, sleeping, and even doing the everyday things we love, but it doesn’t have to stop you from leading an active, healthy life. In fact, some exercises are specifically designed to relieve back pain, as well as strengthen your core and supporting muscles to protect you from injuries and further pain. If you’ve ever had pain in your back, these four exercises are for you: studies show that exercise can actually reduce back pain, as well as help improve back impairments.
Read on to find out exactly why you should be doing these exercises regularly to treat and prevent back pain, as well as a step-by-step guide on how to do them right, because you deserve more than just popping pain relief medication and resting on the couch.
1. Partial Crunches
We know by now that strengthening the core helps protect our back, but what you might not know are the right moves to strengthen your core. Sit-ups have always been a go-to core exercise, but they’re not the most effective exercise you can do and most people don’t use the proper form anyway. Sit-ups can put pressure on your hips, as well as the discs in your spine by overly rounding your back. Instead, partial crunches give you a targeted core exercise without straining your back. Make sure you keep your feet, buttocks, and lower back flat on the floor, and raise only your shoulders off the ground. Never pull your neck—instead, place your fingers lightly on the back of your neck and keep your elbows wide to keep the focus on your core.
2. Back Extensions
A great way to gently stretch out the muscles in your back is with back extensions. It’s a simple move that’s easy to do almost anywhere while giving your entire body a gentle workout at the same time (heck yeah for multitasking!). Simply lay flat on your stomach on a comfortable mat with your hands under your shoulders, and then squeeze your bum and your core to slowly lift your shoulders and then chest off the floor. Make sure you keep your neck aligned with your spine and your chin down and avoid putting too much weight in your hands. This will give you a gentle stretch of your spine without taxing your neck or lower back, and is particularly helpful if you sit (or, lets be honest, slouch) at a desk all day.
3. Knee to Chest
If you suffer from lower back pain, a great way to relieve it is with knee to chest stretches. They immediately take the pressure off of your lower back while giving it a super gentle stretch, which can help you feel instantly better. Lay on the ground with your feet flat on the floor, wrap your hands around one knee, and gently lift your knee to your chest. Make sure you don’t tug your knee towards you (or else you could unleash all kinds of painful joint issues), but instead pull with your core. Hold for a few seconds, then switch to the other leg and repeat.
4. Cat and Cow
Relieving tension in your spine can be as easy as doing a few cat and cow stretches every morning after you wake up (no livestock required). These yoga poses are incredibly easy and increase flexibility in your spine over time, while helping relieve pain right away. Start on your knees with your hands directly under your shoulders and palms flat on the floor. Slowly start arching your back with your gaze pointing upwards, hold for a second or two, and then slowly release and round your back like a cat. Pull your belly button to your spine to help increase your range, and lower your gaze to the floor. Repeat 3-4 times, and voila! Limber as a cat, but with eight fewer lives, unfortunately.
Of course, if you build a strong back and body, you are less likely to have back pain in the first place. Join our Five Day Fit Sexy Back series to get started. These 12 minute HIIT workouts train your lats, rhomboids, spine, traps, posterior deltoids and lower back — all while increasing your overall lean muscle mass and creating a stronger, leaner body. Get all the gear you need to get max results for less when you snag our Sexy Back bundle, which includes all five days of workouts. Bring it home today!