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Sharp Health News

Exercises to help ease back pain

Feb. 15, 2018

Exercises to help ease back pain

A healthy back keeps you doing the things you love, such as playing with your children or grandchildren, climbing a trail, traveling or walking long distances. Without a healthy back, your life becomes limited.

Cynthia Mendolia, an exercise specialist with the Sewall Healthy Living Center at Sharp Coronado Hospital, recommends these three simple exercises to help prevent and alleviate back pain.

  1. Overhead arm and body stretch
    This stretch can be done standing or sitting. Sit your bottom more in the middle to front of a chair or stand to begin. Raise your arms over your head, with your palms facing forward. Breathe five to 10 deep breaths. Your arms do not need to be fully straight. Lower your arms and repeat if desired.

  2. Alternate side body stretch
    Stand about a foot away from the wall. Raise one hand and arm up on the wall and the other hand flat directly at shoulder level on the wall. Then reach as high as you can with the hand on the wall above your head and breathe in three to five deep breaths. Lower the raised arm and repeat with the other arm.

    Both of the above exercises stretch the whole body including the back.

  3. Pelvic tilt exercise
    This exercise is done on the floor. Start on your back with your knees bent and feet on the floor. Flatten your back against the floor by tightening your abdominal muscles and lifting your pelvis up slightly without lifting your hips off the floor. Do three sets of 15 repetitions. You do not need to do all of the sets at one time; you can space them out throughout the day. This exercise will strengthen your abdominal muscles and will help build a stronger back.

Benefits of stretching your back

  • Reduces tension in muscles supporting the spine — tension in these muscles can worsen pain from any number of back pain conditions
  • Improves range of motion and overall mobility, reducing the risk of disability caused by back pain

“You should stretch every day to avoid back pain; but if you do have back issues or are recovering from a surgery or injury, keep up with the exercises recommended by your physical therapist or trainer,” says Mendolia.

“It’s also important to keep up a regular physical exercise program to maintain back strength,” explains Mendolia. “A program that incorporates total body strength training two to three days a week with a consistent guided yoga class two days a week will add flexibility to the tightened muscles from strength training.”

“Make your back exercises a daily habit and feel your pain lessen or go away,” adds Mendolia. “A stronger body will always make for fewer back issues.”

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