10 Exercises or Stretches to Reduce Back Pain
If you’re here then I imagine you and I have something in common? Back problems! I am always either sitting behind a computer, a sewing machine, or standing behind a camera. All 3 of these positions put my back in the worst possible position on the daily. It doesn’t surprise me that I have terrible posture and have to be so conscious about how I am sitting/standing every day. However, these next 10 exercises will definitely assist in reducing back pain or discomfort and have helped me on the road to better posture. I recommend doing these daily and trying to either hold the stretches for at least 30 seconds or do 3 sets of 10 if it’s one of the movements.
#1 On the Wall Goal Post
Stand against the wall with your heels, butt, and back against the wall being sure to tuck the tailbone under to get your lower back as close to the wall as possible. Place your arms in a goal post position with your elbows against the the wall at 90 degrees. Keeping your elbows against the wall and your core tight, move your arms up as high as you can without letting your elbows come off the wall. Do this exercise 10 times for 3 rounds.
#2 Bridge Pose
Lay on your back, place the soles of your feet on the floor hip distance apart. Placing your arms by your side, pressing the palms into the ground, lift your hips off the ground while keeping the knees and toes pointing straight forward. Your can either stay in that position or take it a little further by clasping your hands together underneath your hips coming high on top of the shoulders. Hold this position for at least 30 seconds and repeat for 2 more rounds. Check out the yoga journal to learn more about this amazing pose.
#3 Supine Twist
One of my all time favorites. Lay on your back, pull your knees into your chest and give yourself a big hug. Keeping the knees high into your chest, release the hug and drop them knees over to the right side of your body while keeping both shoulder blades firmly planted on the ground. Your left shoulder blade will want to lift but do your best to exhale and drop the left shoulder closer to the ground as you deepen the twist. Hold for at least 30 seconds and switch to the other side.
Here's another great way to strengthen the whole back. Lay on your stomach with your arms straight overhead, forehead on the ground. Take a deep inhale to lift the arms and legs off the ground at the same time keeping your gaze on the floor in front of you so your neck stays in a neutral position. Then exhale the arms and legs back down back down simultaneously. You'll repeat this movement for a total of 10 reps. When you lift, be sure to squeeze your glutes and keep your legs as close together as you can. Shoulder blades draw towards each other while the shoulders stay away from your ears. Repeat for a total of 3 rounds.
#5 Pigeon Pose (modified: reclined pigeon)
You're probably wondering why I'm suggesting to do a hip stretch when we are discussing our backs? our bodies are so interconnected that oftentimes our hips could be the culprit for lower back pain which is why this stretch is so important. I like to start this pose in a downward dog position as it allows your hips to set up in the proper square off position. Inhale lift your right leg, exhale bring your right knee over towards your right wrist. Keeping the hips square start to lower the hips towards the ground while keeping your right heel underneath the left hip area. If you are tight you can also prop the right hip on top of a yoga block or rolled up blanket for more support. Advanced or flexible individuals can keep the shin more parallel to the front of the yoga mat. If it feels comfortable you can start to fold forward coming onto the forearms. Hold for at least 30 seconds and repeat on the other side.
For those who are super tight, the modified pigeon is a great place to start. Lying on your back with the soles of the feet on the floor hip distance apart. Place your right ankle on top of the left knee and either stay there or lift the left foot off the floor, reach in between the legs and grab hold of your left hamstring. It is important to keep you feet flexed and engaged to help protect the knees. Hold for least 30 seconds and repeat on the other side.
#6 Thread the Needle
I love this one. Starting on all fours in a table top position making sure your knees are directly under the hips and the wrists are directly under the shoulders. Inhale, lift your right arm all the way up to the sky and then thread it underneath your left arm bringing the right shoulder all the way down to the ground. Bring your gaze up towards the sky underneath your left armpit. If you want to deepen the stretch you can lift the left palm off the ground to bring it behind your back, reaching for the right hip
#7 Core Strength
In order to have a healthy back and good posture it is imperative you have a strong core. Our core keeps us stable and standing tall. Here are some of my favorite core exercises:
Alternating leg lifts: lay on your back with the arms overhead and legs stretched out long, lift your right leg and left arm at the same time bringing them together at the top making sure you are trying to lift the upper back off the ground.
Crunches or sit ups: an easier beginner core strengthener are crunchies and you can slowly work them into sit ups as you get stronger. Start on your back with the souls of your feet on the ground. Hands behind your head keeping your elbows out wide, keep your gaze at the ceiling and lift your head and shoulders as high off the ground as you can repeating up and down for multiple reps/sets
Russian Twists: Balance on your sits bones with bent knees and feet off the ground (modification would be to keep your heels on the floor). Clasp your hands together and touch the ground on either side of you alternating and switching side to side for multiple reps.
There are thousands of different core exercises to help strengthen the mid section but now you know 3 of my favorite. For more core exercises check out this great article in Women's health magazine.
#8 Yoga Block Under the Tailbone
This stretch seems subtle but when it’s done correctly it can change your lower back. Lay on your back with the souls of the feet on the floor hip distance apart. Lift the hips and place a yoga block on the base of your tailbone below your hips. Start with the block in the lowest position and slowly work it up to the highest position you can tolerate. Sit and hold for at least 30 seconds. Think about elongating your lower back by tucking the tailbone under and remember to take deep breaths in and out as you hold. Oftentimes if we stand a lot our lower backs can get compressed so, this stretch focuses on the lower vertebrae slowly lengthening the muscles and spine.
#9 Childs Pose
This is a totally relaxing pose for me and i love it because it not only lengthens the whole spine but it also stretches the quads and hips which is a win win in my book. Start on all fours bringing the knees out wide and keeping the toes touching. Sit back on the heals as you walk your hands forward lowering your torso towards the ground. Place your forehead on the mat and breath deeply. Hold it for 30 seconds to a minute and try not to fall asleep, it’s that good.
#10 Psoas Stretch
Last but not least we are going to stretch the psoas (pronounced so-as) which is the muscle located in the in the lower lumbar region of the spine and connects all the way down into your femur. Again, I prefer to get into this position from the downward dog position but you can follow these same steps from your hands and knees. Inhale, lift the right leg exhale bring the right foot through placing it in between your hands. Drop the back knee and slowly shift the hips forward while keeping the hips square. Important tip: make sure your right knee stays behind the big toe. If you find your knee is tracking over the toes then walk the right foot forward so the knee is in 90 degrees. Lift the chest hip and place your hands on your front knee. Hold for at least 30 seconds and repeat on the other side.
I hope you find these exercises helpful. If so comment below or share it to your social accounts. Thanks for reading. XO-DanaLou