Top 10 Back Exercises for Pain Relief

Written by Dave Rich

On May 30, 2012

Is back pain bringing you down? Are you struggling to do everyday activities without needing an over-the-counter anti-inflammatory? The human back is a tricky thing. You can do something as simple as bend over to reach for a pen and throw it out. Why is that?
What Causes Back Pain?
The most common causes of back pain are herniated disc, muscular strain, injury, muscular misuse, and arthritis. Oftentimes, the back will become injured because the physical body is doing more work than the back is able to handle. The back is just not as strong as it could be.
Plenty of men work their arms with free-weights, their abs with crunches, and their legs during cardio exercises. The back is often overlooked. Because of this, your back is more susceptible to injury during everyday activities or exercise. These back exercises can provide pain relief and strengthen the muscles so you avoid re-injuring yourself in the future.
Top 10 Back Exercises for Pain Relief

1.      The “Superman”
This back exercise helps strengthen and tone the muscles in your entire back. To do it, lay on your stomach with enough room to stretch your arms above your head. Stretch your arms out over your head as though you were going to do a dive. Stretch your legs out, toes pointing downward. Gently lift your arms and legs off the floor and hold for a count of 30. Release. Repeat 3 times. Eventually, you’ll be able to hold the pose for a full minute.
2.      The Lunge
Lunges help strengthen the muscles in the lower back. They’re great back exercises because they help relieve pain in the leg, hip, and butt muscles. To do the lunge, stand with your feet hip-distance apart. Place your hands on your hips, bend your knees and step forward with one foot. Straighten and repeat with the other foot. Start with 5-10 repetitions, depending on comfort level.
3.      Push-Ups
Most guys do this one to strengthen their arms and chest but push-ups also work to strengthen the back. Men who suffer with neck and upper back pain especially need to strengthen their upper back muscles. Push-ups can be modified for severe back-pain sufferers. Instead of balancing on your toes, try touching the floor with your knees until your back is strong enough to handle the fuller load.
4.      The Reach
The reach is one of the back exercises that work to tone and strengthen the entire back as well as the abdominals and hips. To do it, get down on all fours. Reach your right arm in front of you while lifting your left leg straight out. Switch and do the same with your left arm and your right leg. Repeat 10-20 times.
5.      The Pelvic Lift
The pelvic lift is another great exercise for strengthening the muscles in the lower back. To do this exercise, lay on the floor or a mat with your knees bent and your arms straight out beside you. Gently, using your abdominal muscles to pull you off the ground, lift your butt upward and hold for 5 seconds. Slowly, release back down. Repeat 10-20 times.
6.      The Extender
This exercise strengthens the entire back and also works the core. To do it, you’ll need to lay on your stomach on a bed with your upper half hanging off the bed. Your chest and face should be parallel to the floor. With arms crossed over your chest, gently move downward toward the floor. Using your back and core muscles, lift back up. Repeat 5-10 times to start.
7.      The Knee-to-Chest
The knee-to-chest is a simple exercise designed to relieve lumbar pain and tone muscles in the lower back. To do it, lay flat on the floor or an exercise mat. Bring your right knee toward your chest, gently pull it with your hands clasped across your kneecap to get a firmer stretch and loosen tight hips. Repeat on the other side. Do 10-20 repetitions.
8.      The “Hangman”
Sometimes, it’s not your lower back that’s the problem. It’s your upper back and neck. Stress and poor posture can lead to compression of the spinal column. This easy pressure reliever can lengthen the spine and relieve chronic pressure. To do it, stand with your feet hip-distance apart and bend forward at the waist as far as you can. Let your arms dangle like dead weights in front of you. Breathe normally and allow your upper body to relax as much as possible. Hold for 60 seconds. Straighten up slowly.
9.      Yogic Staff Pose
To strengthen your back and improve your posture, try the Staff Pose from the Eastern tradition of yoga. Sit on the floor with your legs straight out in front of you. Breathing deeply, raise your arms above your head, fingers in the air, thumbs locked together. Pull your neck and back upward as far as possible while extending your toes and pulling them toward your chest. Hold for 5-10 seconds, breathing deeply all the while.
10.    Yogic Cat Pose
Another pose from the tradition of yoga is Cat/Cow pose. This pose helps relieve back pain and lengthens the spine. To do it properly, get down on all fours. Acting as though there is a string tied to the middle of your back, pull upward toward the ceiling while lowering your head to the floor. Taking a deep breath, pull you head up and push your chest out while allowing your belly to sink slightly to the floor. Repeat 3 times. Click the upcoming link for a video of Cat/Cow pose.
These great back exercises can help ease muscle tension, de-compress the spine, and help you avoid re-injury. However, it’s important to talk with your doctor if your injury is severe of new as some back exercises can worsen back pain and inflammation. Always start slowly and work your way up to avoid worsening your condition. If severe pain results with any of these exercises, stop and talk with your doctor.
Back pain doesn’t have to rule your life. When you strengthen your back, your posture will improve, your work-outs will be more effective, and you’ll avoid injuring yourself during everyday activities. Take the first step and get started today!

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