Nobody likes back pain. It is an excruciating and debilitating feeling that makes it hard to perform the simplest function. Unfortunately, a large majority of people will have to deal with back pain at some point in their life. Some have it much worse than others and have to deal with persistent back pain. Others get lucky and just have to deal with it for a little while and then it goes away.
I was fortunate enough to be in the latter group, but my mother and sister belonged to the former group. That said, my short bursts of back pain were still excruciating enough that I just had to figure out how to relieve it and stop it from happening again. This article is based on what I found out and what I did to stave off future back pain. It helped me and it even helped my mother and sister who had the persistent back pain. This means that there is a really good chance that it will help you as well!
But first, I would like to explain a few things about back pain.
The Prevalence Of Back Pain And Other Facts
Like I said earlier, a good majority of humans living today will go through a bout of back pain throughout their life span. In fact, the amount of people who deal with it has gone up quite a bit in the past twenty years. This is due to more of us spending our days in a sedentary position due to the explosion in jobs requiring people to sit all day and technological advancements that keep people glued to a chair instead of getting up and moving around.
It is estimated that if you take a group of 10 people living in the USA, eight of those people will go through some kind of back pain in their lifetime. Your chances of developing severe back pain are higher if you are female. This may explain why my sister and mother had persistent back pain and I did not.
Additionally, over half of the people who deal with back pain can attribute that pain to the fact that they are sedentary all day. One final fact you should know is that back pain can also break the bank for many people. It is estimated that people living in the United States spend over $50,000,000,000 every single year in hopes of alleviating it.
Those are huge expenditures and most of that money just goes towards ineffective pain relief pills that people get hooked on – which causes a whole other health epidemic entirely. But that is not the point of this article. The point of this article is to give you some tips on how to prevent back pain if you currently do not have it and to help you relieve it if you do have it.
Let’s get started!
Some Health Tips To Reduce Your Chances Of Getting Back Pain
I am aware that this article is titled Workouts That Will Strengthen Your Back, however, I felt it appropriate to include some lifestyle choices that one should make to complement those workouts in order to maximize their ability to stave off back pain.
1.) Manage Your Weight
A huge cause of back pain is forcing your body to lug around a lot of fat. If you maintain your weight and keep it low, you will be putting less stress on your back – as well as putting less stress on your knees. The workouts that I will explain later will go a long way in helping you burn fat. However, the following tip is crucial too.
2.) Subscribe To A Healthy Diet
Just exercising will not do enough to keep your weight low. You need to complement it with a healthy diet – rich with fruits and vegetables and low in sugar. It is time to throw out processed foods and sugary snacks. If you have an insatiable sweet tooth, reach for fruits like strawberries and raspberries.
They are filled with essential vitamins and nutrients and also have ingredients that assist in weight loss. Foods high in protein, such as meat, are also good options as they will help you build muscle, thus boosting metabolism and making your back more durable and less susceptible to pain.
3.) Alter Your Sleep Arrangements If Necessary
If you wake up in excruciating pain every morning, you may want to consider investing in a new mattress. You spend almost eight hours a night (if you have a healthy sleep schedule) laying on your back. If you have bad mattress, this can end up screwing up your spine leading to persistent pain.
Good mattress options include memory foam mattresses that conform to your body type or air mattresses, as they do not have hard springs that can screw up your spine.
Another sleep-related change you can make is to sleep on your side instead of on your back. If sleeping on your back is too hard of a habit to break, you can always get some extra pillows and put them under your back as you sleep to put less pressure on your spine.
4.) Sit Up Straight
Remember when you were younger and your grandparents always critiqued your posture? It turns out that they were not just being prudes. Good posture is key for a healthy back. If you have to sit for prolonged periods of time, sit up straight. The worst thing you can do is sit in a slouching position for hours on end. Also, if you do the opposite of slouching and instead curve your spine forward, this can lead to problems as well such as scoliosis.
5.) Alleviate Stress
Stress causes all kinds of health problems, back pain being one of them. It sounds weird how something mental could end up causing physical pain, but it is true. This is because when you are feeling stressed, a lot of chemical reactions happen in the body. Some of these reactions end up causing your muscles to stiffen up – leading to back pain.
Workouts To Stave Off Back Pain
Now is the time you were all waiting for. The following workouts can be done to alleviate back pain if you have it and prevent you from getting it if you do not. Just a warning that some these workouts may be hard to do if you have really severe back pain. These are more for people trying to prevent it in the first place.
This is one of my favorite workouts to do. And it just so happens to be one of the most effective on this list. Why? First off, you are straightening your back out. Secondly, it makes the muscles on your much stronger and really works out the muscles in your lower spine. In case you did not know, a majority of back pain sufferers feel that pain in their lower spine.
If you strengthen the muscles down there, you are less likely to develop pain. Another great thing about the superman is that it is an incredibly simple workout that anybody can do. Just make sure to keep your arms and legs perfectly straight for the whole time that you are doing it or else you are not getting the full benefit.
2.) Reverse Sit-up
This is an interesting workout that I had no idea about until I started my research into ways to prevent back pain. The premise is simple: get into a seated sit-up position. Make sure your knees are perfectly bent and your feet are flat on whatever surface you are doing it on.
If need be, have a partner hold your feet down to keep them flat. Then lay back, keeping your knees bent and feet flat. Stay in this position for five to ten seconds before coming back up. Rinse and repeat however many times you would like.
3.) Standing Stretch
Another easy workout (see the trend here?). For this one, all you have to do is get into a standing position. Bend your knees a little bit and then put your hands in your lower spinal area. From there, stretch your upper body back, keeping your knees bent the whole time. Hold this position for a few second before going back to where you started. Rinse and repeat until you start feeling the burn in your lower spine.
4.) Bird Dog
Yes, the name of this workout is silly. However, it is an effective workout for strengthening your back. All of you have to do is get on your hands and knees. From there, get your left leg up and extend it straight back.
After that, get your right arm up and extend it straight forward. Hold this stance for however long you can before alternating to your right leg and left arm. Rinse and repeat however many times you would like.
5.) Modified Single-Knee Crunch
This is an interesting take on the crunch that I found to be very helpful. Basically, you get into a sit-up position. Lay straight back with your knees bent. Cup your arms around one of your knees and slowly bring it towards your chest.
Once it touches your chest, hold it there for as long as you can (stop at thirty seconds if you hold it that long) and then alternate. Rinse and repeat until you start feeling the burn in your hips and lower spine.
6.) Downward Dog
Another workout with a silly name that provides immense benefit. The downward dog actually shares more similarities with the bird dog than just a weird name. However, they are still a bit different. Instead of getting on your hands and knees, you get on your hands and feet. It is not as simple as just that though.
To do this workout correctly, you have to make sure your arms and legs are both perfectly straight. No bent knees or elbows. It is called a downward dog because your back should appear to be a perfect downward slant with your butt high in the air if you are doing it right. Hold this stance for however long you can.
7.) Backwards Letter C
Look at the letter C. That is what the premise of this exercise is. You want to bend your body back as far as you can get it so that your figure looks like the letter C. Now, it will not end up looking just like a C. Here is how you do it. First, get into a superman position. Then push your arms straight up while keeping your legs perfectly straight and flat on the surface.
Finally, bend your chest, back, neck, and head as far back as you can. This workout will greatly increase the durability of your upper back muscles, as well as your chest muscles. It will also immensely improve your posture, further reducing your chances of developing nagging back problems. Hold this position as long as you can before rinsing and repeating as many times as you would like.
8.) Medicine Ball Squats
Another easy exercise. Self-explanatory when you look at the name, but I will explain it anyways. Stand straight up, with some space between your legs. Hold your medicine ball across your left shoulder and then go down for a squat, bringing the medicine ball down to your right foot.
You can keep doing it this way for however long you would like, but make sure to change up the sides (hold ball over right shoulder then bring it down to left foot).
9.) Forwards Letter C
This exercise will make you look like a letter C no matter how inflexible you are. Trust me, I was not very flexible and I still managed to look like a C. This one is probably the easiest to do on this entire list. To start, lay perfectly back with your arms and legs extending as straight as they can. Then, while keeping your arms and legs straight, push your back up to a sitting position and then bend it even further forward (basically, try to touch your toes).
Maintain the perfect straightness in your arms and legs the whole time – do not let your knees or elbows bend at all. This is an incredibly workout for your middle and lower spine as well as your chest. Hold this stance for as long as you can and then repeat it until you feel the burn and want to stop.
10.) Knee Rotation
Last, but not least, a very simple and effective exercise for your lower spine. Get into a sit-up position. Knees bent, feet planted on the surface. Then, without lifting your feet up, put your knees together and rotate them to the left. Hold in that stance for a few seconds before rotating them to your right.
Rinse and repeat until you start feeling the burn in your lower spinal area. This is a fantastic exercise for your back because it increases its flexibility and eliminates any stiffness.
Back Pain Exercise Prevention Summary
No matter how well we treat our bodies, a good majority of us will undergo some kind of back pain during our lives. However, the better you treat your body when you are younger, the less of a chance you will be dealing with severe back pain in your 50s.
In fact, if you treat your body well enough, you could end up being one of those physically fit seniors that you see in the news and in fitness commercials. Now, isn’t that a goal we can all strive for? I certainly think so and so should you. I hope this guide will motivate you to stop sitting around all day and start eating healthy and doing the exercises on the list.