Simple stretching exercises to alleviate back pain

While back problems are a major source of pain (and even disability), studies show that a variety of simple exercises to alleviate back pain can be effective.

Simple stretching exercises to alleviate back pain

Do they work?

  • In fact, according to two separate studies on exercise and back pain by Canadian researcher Dr. Jill A. Hayden, although acute back pain (which is often caused by injury) did not show much improvement with exercise, there was "strong evidence" that exercise could improve the conditions of those suffering from chronic back pain.
  • The reviews looked at over 70 different exercises and found that a stretching and strengthening program made up of simple exercises to alleviate back pain you can do at home has the most "positive impact."

Stretching the piriformis muscle

  • Running from the back of the thighbone to the base of the spine, the piriformis muscle can often cause sciatic nerve pain when it is tight.
  • To begin stretching this muscle, simply lie on your back and cross one leg over the other. Then wrap your arms around the back of your knees and slowly pull your knees into your chest.
  • You should feel a stretch developing in the leg that is the most bent.
  • After holding the knee against your chest, which keeps pressure on the piriformis muscle, switch sides and do the other leg.

Abdominal strengthening exercises

  • Strengthening the stomach muscles is actually one of the most effective ways to alleviate back pain because the abdominal actually supports the upper body and takes weight and pressure off of the spine.
  • Simple crunches or leg lifts strengthen the upper and lower abdominal muscles respectively and can help you build the kind of core strength that is good for your back.
  • To do crunches, lie on the floor with bent knees and repeatedly bring your head and shoulders up until you feel your abdominals tense up, and then slowly drop back to the ground.
  • For leg lifts, also lie on your back on the floor, but now bring your legs up until your abdominal muscles flex, and then slowly lower them to the floor.

Stretch the psoas muscle

  • Located on the lower lumbar spine and reaching down to the inner hip, this muscle is also a frequent cause of lower back pain when it is tight or strained.
  • Simple exercises to alleviate back pain from the psoas muscle include stretching it by kneeling on one knee, opening the standing hip and knee to the side, and then bending the body slowly forward alongside the standing leg.
  • This gentle stretch should help open and loosen the psoas muscle, and may greatly lessen back pain.
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