Few things in this world can keep a person from enjoying life like constant back pain. Whether your pain is the result of years of wear and tear, a genetic predisposition, or perhaps some form of injury, like the results of a car accident, the goal is always the same-- try to reduce the pain in the easiest, most effective, cost efficient ways.
Believe it or not, there are many exercises which almost anyone can attempt to try from home which can help to gently improve your condition and help to keep your pain to a minimum, all without the use of harsh prescription pain killers or surgeries.
We have reached out to a multitude of the foremost experts on back pain relief, asked them about their favorite 1-2 exercises that anyone with back pain can do from home to help reduce their pain, and we have gathered their responses into this one easy-to-digest article!
"My two favorite exercises for acute low back pain are polar opposites. The first is simply a relaxing position. The second focuses on improving range of motion while simultaneously decreasing pain.
The first exercise focuses on relaxing the entire spine, realigning the ears over the shoulders over the hips and helps to restore proper core engagement. The patient lies on the ground while bending the knees and hips to 90 degrees, resting their legs on a chair or couch, demonstrated in the picture below.
Once you are in position consciously relax allowing your shoulders to drop into a more neutral alignment. Now begin light oscillations of engaging your core, ie pull your belly button in toward your spine, while maintaining slow steady breathing. Stay in this position for 5-10 minutes and repeat 2-3 times per day.
The second exercise helps to improve motion and decrease pain. This exercise starts out with the patient lying on their belly, propped on their elbows for 30-60 seconds and then lying flat. As long as pain levels do not increase, this exercise is progressed to pressing the upper body up meanwhile leaving the hips and legs on the floor. The full press ups are done repetitively and not held in comparison to part 1. These exercises should be performed at least once every 2-3 hours while awake. (Should your pain or symptoms increase or worsen immediately stop and contact your physician.)" - Dr. Brian Trieb
“About 80-90% of all people usually respond very well to doing knee-to-chest stretches on their back, one knee at a time and hold for an eight count. Do 10 reps each leg daily. The other 10-20% will respond to extension/cobra exercises. The patient is on their stomach and they extend their upper torso about 30-35 degrees and hold for about 5-7 seconds. Do 15-20 reps daily. Usually the second group are the ones that have a protruding disc problem. They want to avoid surgery.” - Dr. Gene Goldberg
“Tight hamstrings almost always equal back pain. I suggest that patients lie on their back on the floor. Scoot your bottom to an open area of wall and stretch your legs by raising them above your head and leaning them against the wall. Hold for 30 seconds to a minute. This is a great way to stretch your hamstrings as well as the supporting muscles of the low back. Another good exercise is lifting your bottom up off the floor while lying on your back. Just bend your knees and raise your hips about a foot off the ground. Hold for 10 seconds then lower. Do 20-30 reps daily for low back support.” - Dr. Kara Zajac
"To help with back pain at home I teach my patients the pelvic tilt exercise and if they have pain down the legs, I teach them the Piriformis muscle stretches. The beauty is that they do not need any equipment to perform them." - Dr. Kim Khauv
“Medicine ball Lift hip to opposite shoulder. Standing on one leg holding a medicine ball on the weight bearing hip, lift it up to the opposite shoulder with minimal twisting, quality glute and core engagement with controlled breathing and intra-abdominal pressure. Try 3 sets of 10 on each side.
Overhead carry step up - Using a broomstick to start (eventually adding a little weight) maintain hands twice shoulder width and straight arms locked at elbow. Hold above head with arms aligned with ears. Brace the core and try and avoid the lower ribs flaring. Aim to pull the down, and breathe, and expand the ribs in the sides and back of the rib cage as you breathe. Start with a small step and progress over time. This can be done alternating legs around 3 sets of 20 reps.” - Dr. Tim Robards
"Dr. John Macphee explains 3 Exercises To Help With Sciatica in the video link provided below. You will learn the following:
“Some of the best exercises people can do to reduce any type of back problems would be a dead bug for lower back. Think about being on your back and bringing your knees and hips up to 90 degrees, pushing the arms to the ceiling and then alternating tapping the floor with opposite hands and feet. For upper back and neck, get thoracic extension on a foam roller by putting a foam roller perpendicular to your spine, brace your core and bend backwards.” - Dr. Anthony Gustin
“To activate the low back and gluteal muscles try the bridge exercise:
“People rarely need to do any specific exercises. Sometimes, they just need to find the things they are missing or even afraid of and start doing those things again. This can mean almost anything-- they might miss running, gardening or doing deadlifts. They could be afraid to bend over or do a squat. People can adapt and there are rarely reasons to avoid an activity forever. In some ways the best exercise is the one that they want to do and the one that they will do. After that the details don't matter too much.” - Dr. Greg Lehman
"The first thing I like to do is have a patient call through Active ROM (or Active Range of Motion), basically easily move your neck in flexion, then extension, then rotation, then side bending. Each movement should done slowly and held at end ROM for 10 seconds.
The second exercise I demonstrated on the Doctor Oz show is one of my favorites. It’s simple and I call it the Banana Stretch: Basically take your hands and interlock them behind your back and pretend there is a banana that you must hold between your shoulder blades, then bring your head back into extension and hold for 10 seconds. Your neck curve should look like a banana” - Dr. Shoshany
Don't let back pain take over your life. We hope that you will try out some these exercises to see which ones help out with your back pain the most! And If you are still experiencing pain with no relief, we recommend creating an appointment today at one of our Orlando pain clinics.