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Backache? This Exercise Will Help You

, Backache? This Exercise Will Help You

After any back problem, it’s important to get movement and strength back. This supports tissue healing and will help you get moving again.

 

You may not be able to return to your usual exercise levels immediately and improvements may be slow to start with. However, a gradual return to normal activities is the best way to get good short and long term results after a back problem.

When doing exercise you should listen to your pain levels, especially in the early stages. You may find that these exercises increase your symptoms slightly in the beginning. However, they should get easier over time and, with regular practice, can help to improve movement in the back.

 

How to tell if you’re exercising at the right level

This guide can help you to understand if you’re exercising at the right level. It’ll also let you see how much pain or discomfort is acceptable.

It can be helpful to rate your pain out of 10 (0 being no pain 10 being the worst pain you have ever had), for example:

  • 0 to 3 – minimal pain
  • 4 to 5 – acceptable pain
  • 6 to 10 – excessive pain

 

Pain during exercise

Aim to keep your pain within a rating of 0 to 5. If your pain gets above this level, you can change the exercises by:

  • reducing the number of times you do a movement
  • reducing the speed of a movement
  • increasing rest time between movements

 

Pain after exercise

Exercise should not make your existing back pain worse overall. However, practicing new exercises can sometimes cause short term muscle pain as the body gets used to moving in new ways. This kind of pain should ease quickly and your pain should be no worse the morning after you’ve exercised.

 

How many and how often

You should add exercises into your routine gradually to help your back pain. 

 

Movement exercises

Repetitions are how often you do a single movement. When starting new exercises, it can be helpful to do 2 to 3 repetitions at a time.

It’s better to do small amounts throughout the day. For example, practise your repetitions every hour.

As this gets easier, and if you feel able to, add 1 or 2 repetitions to your movements every few days.

As you become able to do more repetitions, it can be helpful to break things up into sets. This means you could do more repetitions at a time but you’ll do them less often throughout the day. For example:

  1. Do 8 repetitions.
  2. Rest for a minute.
  3. Repeat another set of 8 repetitions.
  4. Repeat this 2 to 3 times a day.

 

Over time you can try to increase the number of repetitions you do. You should aim for a maximum of 2 sets of 15.

 

Stretching exercises

The aim of a stretch is to hold a position for a longer period of time. Over time this can help to improve your range of movement. 

When doing the exercise you should be able to feel a gentle stretch. This shouldn’t be sore or uncomfortable.

You should try to hold stretches for 20 to 30 seconds if possible.

Try to focus on doing sets of exercises. For example, do 2 to 3 sets of stretches. Aim to do this 2 to 3 times a day.

As you do more stretching you should feel your range of movement improve and you’ll be able to stretch further.

 

When to stop

Stop these exercises if they make your symptoms worse, or if they cause new pain.

If your back pain worsens while following this advice, it’s a good idea to see a doctor about your symptoms.

 

General Tips for Stretching to Relieve Back Pain

Basic stretches for neck pain are convenient enough to be done on a regular basis throughout the day, such as at home, at work, or even in the car. Some examples include:

  • Flexion stretch—Chin to Chest. Gently bend the head forward, bringing the chin toward the chest until a stretch is felt in the back of the neck.
  • Lateral Flexion Stretch—Ear to Shoulder. Bend the neck to one side as if to touch the ear to the shoulder until a stretch is felt in the side of the neck. Keep the shoulders down and back in a comfortable but healthy posture.
  • Levator scapula stretch. Rest one arm against a wall or doorjamb with the elbow slightly above the shoulder, then turn the head to face the opposite direction. Bring the chin down toward the collarbone to feel a stretch in the back of the neck. It may be helpful to gently pull the head forward with the other hand to hold the stretch for the desired time.
    See Easy Levator Scapulae Stretch for Neck Pain
  • Corner stretch. Stand facing the corner of a room, and place the forearms on each wall with the elbows around shoulder height. Then lean forward until a stretch is felt under the collarbone.

 

Keeping the following in mind can help effectively stretch the muscles without injury:

  • Wear comfortable clothing that won’t bind or constrict movements
  • Do not force the body into difficult or painful positions—stretching should be pain free
  • Move into a stretch slowly and avoid bouncing, which can cause muscle strain
  • Stretch on a clean, flat surface that is large enough to move freely
  • Hold stretches long enough (15 to 30 seconds) to adequately lengthen muscles and improve range of motion
  • Repeat a stretch between 2 and 5 times—a muscle usually reaches maximum elongation after about 4 repetitions
  • Stretch one side of the body at a time

 

Stretches for Low Back Pain

  • Back Flexion Stretch. Lying on the back, pull both knees to the chest while simultaneously flexing the head forward until a comfortable stretch is felt across the mid and low back.
  • Knee to Chest Stretch. Lie on the back with the knees bent and both heels on the floor, then place both hands behind one knee and pull it toward the chest, stretching the glutes and piriformis muscles in the buttock.
  • Kneeling Lunge Stretch. Starting on both knees, move one leg forward so the foot is flat on the ground, keeping weight evenly distributed through both hips (rather than on one side or the other). Place both hands on the top of the thigh, and gently lean the body forward to feel a stretch in the front of the other leg. This stretch affects the hip flexor muscles, which attach to the pelvis and can impact posture if too tight.

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The new Protection of Personal Information (POPI) Act Regulations are effective from 1 July. This means we need your consent to receive our direct marketing material. No spam, we promise! When you opt in, you’ll receive our newsletters, latest articles, product and service promotional material and be the first to know about awesome competitions. You can learn more about how your personal information is processed by reading our Privacy Policy and managing your privacy settings. Privacy Policy.