Spine and back pain can be difficult to deal with, causing stiffness, limited range of motion and it can even stop you from carrying out your daily activities. However, you can minimise back pain through the strengthening of your spine with the help of certain stretches and exercises.
Low-impact Aerobic Exercises
Blood flow and nutrients can be brought to the back by performing low-impact aerobic exercises, reducing stiffness in the joints. You must raise your heart rate and keep it elevated for at least twenty minutes, without putting stress on your spine. Walking, stationary biking, elliptical or step machine and swimming are all great exercises that will relieve pain and increase the range of motion yet they will not put more stress on the spine, allowing you to perform your daily activities more comfortably.
Your back comprises of the spinal column, muscles, ligaments and tendons, all designed to keep you limber, working together to allow your body to be flexible and to move. If one of these parts is injured then the back cannot effectively work as a whole to keep you moving. It could take some weeks or months for a stretching routine to benefit the spine and its tissues but eventually your range of motion will increase. Here are some tips for your stretching routine:
- Sit side saddle – Sitting on the floor with your legs outstretched, bend one leg so that the bottom of your foot rests against the inside of the opposite thigh. Bend forwards from your hips, towards your outstretched leg. If you cannot reach your foot, just place your hands as far down your leg as you can, holding the stretch for 30 seconds, then switch onto the other leg.
- Sitting rotation stretch – Sitting on the floor with your legs outstretched, crossone leg over the other. Twist your torso towards the bent leg, putting your hand on the floor behind you with your other arm on the side of your bent leg, using this arm to stretch further and look over your shoulder. Hold the stretch for 30 seconds and then repeat on the opposite leg. See the picture below for help.
Back strengthening exercises
In order to help with your overall form and to relieve your pain, a physiotherapist can help you to perform specific exercises. The most common exercises for strengthening your back are as follows:
- The McKenzie method –There are many types of McKenzie exercises that can be used to relieve pain and help you to return to daily activities. The theory behind the exercises is that the pain caused by limited disc space will be reduced through the extension of the spine by using arm motions. Some of these exercises can be performed standing up but some can be performed lying down. You can perform McKenzie exercises on your own, however the entire program for treatment, pain relief and prevention is best carried out with the guidance of a trained physiotherapist.
- Dynamic lumbar stabilisation exercises – Along with your physiotherapist you will work to find your neutral spine: the position your spine is most comfortable in. By helping you to perform exercises to help you back muscles, you physiotherapist can help your spine stay in this comfortable position and after a few weeks of these exercises, your pain will decrease and your spine will feel more comfortable.