Back pain is one of the most common forms of physical discomfort, and it can occur at any age. It’s caused by various factors ranging from poor posture to a previous injury or medical condition. However, there are specific exercises that you can do at home to relieve your back pain without having to take any medicines or undergo surgery. Here’s what you need to know about these exercises:
Yoga is a holistic approach to fitness that’s easy to do, and even if you have back pain, it can be an effective form of exercise. You don’t need to join a yoga class or buy expensive equipment—just find some time in your day (it doesn’t even have to be on the floor) and focus on holding poses for about 10 minutes each.
The best part about yoga? It will help relieve stress, which can cause tension in your body. Stress also tends to lead people toward unhealthy habits like overeating or drinking alcohol, so finding ways to manage stress levels is essential when living with back pain.
If you have back pain, bridging is a great exercise to help alleviate it. Here’s how to do bridging:
- Lie face down on the floor or on a yoga mat.
- Place your arms by your sides so that your body forms a straight line from head to toes.
- Lift the pelvis up off of the ground so that only your shoulders and feet make contact with the floor. Hold this position for 10 seconds, then slowly lower back down to complete one repetition (a single rep). Repeat this exercise 10 times every day as part of an overall fitness regimen and/or as needed for relief from acute episodes of low-back pain, using proper form and technique at all times.*
This is a great stretch for anyone who sits at a desk all day. Sit on the floor with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor, then slowly pull one knee toward your chest while keeping the other leg extended straight out in front of you. Hold this position for 15 seconds, relax and repeat with another knee-to-chest stretch — continuing until you’ve done each leg three times.
If your back pain is caused by injury or overuse rather than poor posture, this exercise may not be appropriate for you.
Partial crunches are the best way to strengthen your abs. They’re also great for working out your lower back and gluteal muscles. To do a partial crunch, lie on your back with knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Keep a straight line from your shoulders to knees by tightening your abdominal muscles. Then raise one shoulder toward the opposite knee while keeping hips in place, then repeat with other side. Do three sets of 15 reps per day or as directed by your doctor or physical therapist.
Here’s how you do it:
- Start on all fours with your hands and knees on the floor, shoulder-width apart. Your back should be straight and parallel to the floor.
- Lift your right arm forward and up so it’s in line with your body and slightly above head level, then lift the left leg back behind you so that both end up in a straight line (if you can’t lift either arm or leg without straining, keep practicing until you can). Hold for one count, then return to start position before repeating on opposite side of body. That’s one rep!
Finally, you’ll want to stretch your hamstrings. Hamstring stretches are particularly helpful for relieving back pain that’s caused by sitting in a chair all day and bending forward from the hips. To perform this exercise, lie on your back and lift one leg at a time while holding it straight above you (like you’re doing the splits). Hold that position for 30 seconds, then repeat with the other leg.
If these simple exercises help ease your back pain, consider adding a few more into your daily routine to increase their effectiveness:
Exercise ball crunch.
The exercise ball crunch is a great way to target your abs and strengthen the muscles in your back. A strong core helps protect against back pain, as does strengthening the muscles around it.
To do an exercise ball crunch:
- Lie on your back on the floor with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor, about hip-width apart. Place an exercise ball between your lower back, just under the shoulder blades, and against a wall for support (or use two pillows if using a chair).
- Draw in abdominal muscles as you slowly raise head and shoulders off of floor by contracting abdominals; hold for one count at top position. Return to starting position slowly by releasing abdominal contraction while lowering head and shoulders toward floor until they lightly touch ground again; repeat 10 times or as desired. To make this easier on bad backs, sit upright but place both hands behind head instead of reaching towards sky when doing crunches.*
Lying lateral leg lift.
Lying lateral leg lift
Lie on your left side, with a pillow under your head and knees bent. Bend both arms and rest elbows on the floor by your shoulder. Lift right leg off the floor, hold for 5 seconds and lower it back down. Repeat 10 times before switching sides and doing another set of 10 reps with the left leg lifted off the floor too.
An alternative to this exercise is to do lunges while standing upright rather than lying down.
- To do a pelvic tilt, sit up straight on the floor or in a chair and place your hands on your knees.
- Bend forward from the hips so that your back is parallel to the floor.
- Slowly lift one leg off of the ground and extend it behind you as far as is comfortable (you may need to bend or straighten that knee). Hold for a few seconds before lowering it down again and repeating with the other leg. Continue alternating legs until you have completed 10 repetitions on each side. This is one set—do 2-3 sets total per day if possible!*
Wall sits are a great exercise to help you build the strength and endurance needed to sit comfortably, which can reduce back pain.
First, find a wall that’s about waist height. Stand about 2 feet away from it, facing it with your feet shoulder-width apart and your knees slightly bent. Place your hands on top of the wall and then bend at the hips until your thighs are parallel to the floor (or as close as possible). Your spine should be straight with head up and shoulders relaxed–don’t hunch over! Hold for 30 seconds (or longer if you can) before relaxing for 30 seconds by bringing yourself back into starting position. Repeat 10 times total for best results!
Working on a gym ball or doing some yoga can relieve your back pain effectively without the need for painkillers or surgery
If you are looking for a natural way to relieve your back pain, exercising is one of the most effective ways to do so.
Exercises that involve working out with a gym ball or doing yoga can be particularly useful in relieving back pain. These types of exercises can help strengthen your core muscles, which will help keep your spine in alignment and prevent many types of pain from returning.
Be careful when trying these new activities though; not all exercises are safe for everyone’s body and if something causes more discomfort than it relieves, stop doing it immediately.
When it comes to relieving back pain, the best course of action is to avoid doing too much. By staying active and keeping your mind occupied with other things, you will find that your back can heal itself without the need for expensive surgeries or painkillers.