You may have read the recent article in the New York Times discussing new research indicating that the use of yoga and stretching were equally effective in easing chronic back pain. The study demonstrated that regular use of both yoga and stretching exercises helped participants ease chronic back pain, and it also helped improve function.
Back pain affects 80% of Americans at some point in their lives. This study demonstrates the benefits of adding exercise to your weekly activities, and moreover, that you can help yourself prevent or reduce back pain.
5 Low-Impact Moves to Strengthen Your Back and Core
Start this move by kneeling on all fours with your hands beneath your shoulders and your knees directly below your hips. Tighten your core muscles and slowly lift your right arm and extend it straight forward. Slowly lift your left leg and extend it straight back, with your toes pointed down. Hold for 10 seconds and slowly lower to starting position. Repeat three times on each side. If this movement is too advanced, try the easy modifications of this movement, lifting just an arm (lower left photo) or just a leg (lower right photo). Hold for 10 seconds and slowly return to starting position. Repeat three times on each side.
To strengthen you core muscles, lower back and buttocks, try this simple exercise. Lie on your back with your knees bent and with your arms flat on the floor on either side of you. Rotating your pelvis and tailbone down, tighten your core muscles and push your lower back into the floor. Holding this position, slowly lift your midsection off the ground, using your legs, arms and shoulders to balance. Hold in an elevated position for 10 seconds, and slowly lower to starting position, relaxing the core muscles. Repeat five times.
Abdominal Chair Crunch
Having a strong core can help you reduce lower back pain. Try this chair crunch to increase abdominal strength. Lying on your back with your lower legs resting comfortably on a chair, place your fingers gently behind you head and lift your chin to the ceiling. Tighten your abdominal muscles and use these muscles to slowly elevate your shoulders off of the floor – this will cause your stomach to crunch together and you core muscles to contract. Slowly lower back to starting position. Repeat a series of 10, three times, adding more as your core gets stronger.
Plank holds are an excellent way to strengthen your core muscles and lower back muscles. Lying face down on the floor, tuck you toes into the ground and place your elbows on the ground on either side of your body. Keep your stomach muscles tight and slowly raise your body up off the ground and hold in an elevated position. You must keep your core muscles tight and your bottom lifted as high as your shoulders to avoid strain on the lower back. Hold for 10 seconds and slowly lower to starting position. Repeat five times. As you become stronger, hold the position for longer periods of time.
Side Plank Hold
Use a side plank to strengthen your oblique muscles and lower back. Start in a forward plank hold position (elevated on your toes and elbows). Slowly rotate over to one side, putting the weight on your left arm and feet. Place your right arm at your side or on your hip. As you move into this side plank position, your hips will want to sink down to the ground; this can cause strain in the lower back. Instead, be sure to hold your abdominal muscles tight and keep your hips raised. Hold for 10 seconds and slowly lower to starting position. Repeat three times on each side. For modification, place your top leg in front of you as a third point of balance.
For More Information
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This material is presented for informational and educational purposes only. This information does not constitute medical advice and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. You should always seek the advice of a physician or other qualified health care provider before beginning any exercise program. If you experience any pain or difficulty with these exercises, stop and consult your health care provider. WE MAKE NO WARRANTIES, EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, THAT THE INFORMATION CONTAINED IN THESE MATERIALS WILL MEET YOUR NEEDS.