Neck and Back, Exercises, Self Care
Your spine is an integral structure within your body. It acts as a support beam that runs from the base of your skull to your pelvis to carry your weight. The unique "S" shape of your vertebrae is designed to offer maximum support while withstanding enormous amounts of stress.
Sudden awkward movements, constant strain, or pre-existing musculoskeletal conditions can undermine this stability and impair the functionality of your spine. Learn more about the spine here.
Each year, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), back pain costs individuals and businesses $50 billion in disability and missed work.
The evidence of back problems is clear, but what can you do to safeguard your back? The answer is to stretch and strengthen your back muscles to protect your bones and soft tissues from injury.
IMPORTANT: Please understand that NOT all of the exercises and stretches listed here are appropriate for everyone. If you have certain pre-existing conditions or experience increased pain or discomfort during these stretches, stop the exercise and consult an orthopaedic or spine care specialist immediately.
Back stretching exercises like the "cat stretch" increase your flexibility and provide balance to your musculoskeletal system. Try these back-stretching exercises to minimize back pain.
Cat stretch: This stretch both flexes and extends your spine. You may notice instant relief from tightness in your back while performing this stretch. To achieve the stretch:
3. Knee to chest stretch: This is an easy stretch that focuses on your lower back, glutes, and hamstrings. To achieve the stretch:
A healthy spine is supported by strong muscles around the spinal column. To be free of back pain, it is essential to have not only strong back muscles, but strong supporting muscles as well. Focus on strengthening your abdominal muscles, hamstrings, and hip flexors in addition to your back muscles.
Similar to the stretching exercises listed above, back-strengthening exercises can do more harm than good if performed improperly or with an existing injury. If you have concerns, talk to your doctor or a orthopaedic specialist before starting any exercise program.
Try these back strengthening exercises to reinforce your spine and minimize back pain.
1. Bridge exercise: This exercise strengthens the muscles surrounding the spine as well as your hip flexors and abdominal muscles. To complete this exercise:
2. Airplane exercise: This exercise focuses on the glutes, upper and lower back muscles, and hamstrings. To complete this exercise:
3. The dart exercise: This Pilates exercise strengthens the muscles in your upper and lower back. To complete this exercise:
As your back muscles get longer and stronger, you should notice your back pain begin to subside. If regular stretching and exercise does not seem to alleviate your back pain, it may be time make an appointment with a bone and joint specialist.
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