Exercises for Back Pain Relief

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Muscle strain is a common cause of back pain, which affects approximately 30 million Americans at any given time. Since the spinal column and supporting ligaments, tendons, and joints are designed for movement, certain exercises often provide relief from everyday back pain. If you have recurring back pain, a doctor specializing in back pain may gauge how well you respond to different levels of exercise to determine whether or not additional treatment options should be considered.

Initial Exercises

Initial exercises to relieve back pain are usually gentle in nature. Often involving basic moves, low-impact exercises of this nature allow you to become familiar with movements that can serve as a basis for more advanced exercises later while also allowing you to find a routine that best fits your comfort level. After some initial instruction to learn the movements, these are generally exercises you can safely perform at home. Such exercises include:

• Ankle pumps
• Heel slides and raises
• Abdominal contractions
• Straight leg raises
• Wall squats

Intermediate Exercises

After you develop more flexibility, you'll likely move on to exercises that give the muscles that support your spine more of a stretch. Routines at this level may involve the use of an exercise ball for added resistance, with the degree of difficulty adjusted based on how far the ball is from your body. Intermediate exercises for back pain relief include:

• Single knee to chest stretches
• Hamstring stretches
• Lumbar stabilization exercises (these are performed with an exercise ball placed in various locations, such as under your legs or between your back and a wall)
• Yoga and Pilates

Advanced Exercises

If you do well with intermediate level exercises, you'll likely be given the go ahead to try more advanced routines. When you're at this level, you may prefer direction from a physical therapist or trainer familiar with the anatomy of the back and spine. As with any type of exercise, stop and see your doctor if you feel sudden or sharp discomfort or unusual pain. Advanced exercises for back pain relief can include:

• Hip flexor stretches
• Piriformis stretches
• Stationary bike or treadmill exercises
• Core muscle strengthening exercises
• Low-impact aerobics or water aerobics

Do a short warm-up before your routine to relax muscles by holding stretches for 20-30 seconds. Avoid positions that tend to trigger pain, learn proper form for all exercises, and wear comfortable shoes. As always, you should consult with your doctor before beginning any exercise program..