The causes of most back pain vary widely, including poor posture, inactivity, inflexibility and inferior core strength. But whatever the cause is, there are physical exercises that can be done to help ease the agony of acute or chronic pain in the spinal area. This article lists and explains the best exercises you can do today to start feeling better fast.
First, it’s helpful to know what exactly is going on physiologically when you’re experiencing spinal pain. Just about all spinal pain – whether it’s a sharp, jolting pain or a dull ache – is attributable to something called inflammation. Inflammation is the body’s response to cellular damage, and this damage can have many different causes. These exercises work to address the inflammation response by doing two main things: increasing flexibility which allows for increased blood flow, and improving strength of the ligaments, tendons and muscles that support the spine.
For pain in the upper-to-middle back, you’re going to want to focus on exercises that stretch and strengthen the muscles lining the spine, between the spine and the shoulder blades. To begin, place one hand on top of the head and gently pull the head to one side until a stretch can be felt along the shoulder opposite of hand being used. Hold this stretch for 30 seconds and repeat on the other side. Do this for three repetitions.
Another excellent exercise that focuses on the upper-to-middle back involves bringing one arm across the chest and pulling it as close to the chest as possible with the other arm. For this exercise, try to keep the crossed arm unbent as you pull it towards you. You should feel a stretch in the rear shoulder/upper back area. Hold this position for 30 seconds and repeat for three repetitions. Repeat with the other arm.
We’ll now transition to the middle-to-lower spinal area, where the majority of us experience the most spinal pain. The main muscle responsible for control and stability of this area of the body is called the erector spinae, which is connected to a dense form of ligamental tissue called fascia that adheres to the lowermost vertebrae and sacrum (also known as the tailbone).
This exercise is a simple, standing hamstring stretch. For this, stand with your feet about shoulder-width apart and let your arms hang loosely at your sides. Then, slowly bend forward at the hips until you feel a stretch along the back of your legs, into the buttocks and lower spine area. It is critical to keep the lower back stable during this exercise – do not allow the lower back to curve or arch if at all possible. Also, maintain a slight bend at the knees so as not to lock them in place.
Repeat these exercises daily as ongoing maintenance for your spine.