Back pain is not only a medical problem but also a socioeconomic problem as it can lead to limited functioning in everyday life, inability to work, and a bigger number of sick leaves. According to research studies, it has been estimated that 1 in every 5 adults suffers from chronic back pain and almost one in every 10 adults is newly diagnosed with the condition. Low back pain is also a common disease which is experienced by around 84% of people during their lifetime.
While most of these episodes of back pain resolve on their own in about 4 to 6 weeks, some develop into chronic back pain. So to help you prevent back pain and lead a healthy life, Dr. Garima Anandani, Senior Spine Specialist and Clinical Director, QI Spine Clinic shares some simple and easy exercises to keep your spine and back healthy.
8 Exercises to keep back pain at bay
The key mantra to prepare your body for the innumerable stress and pressure that the back has to handle is to stay healthy and fit. And maintaining good spinal core muscle strength can help you to prevent back pain. Here are a few simple exercises you can do on your own for a healthy spine and keep back pain at bay.
It helps to strengthen the buttock muscles thus has a great impact on the functional activities like walking and standing. Also known as glute bridge, it is done by lying straight on the back on a floor or mat and slowly lifting the buttock muscles while keeping the spine in the neutral position. Hold on to this position for 10 seconds and repeat 10 times to get a healthy back.
2. Alternate arm and leg raise
This exercise not only helps you to strengthen the back muscles but also helps to tone the abdominal muscles. To do this exercise, you need to get on your all fours. Once comfortable, slowly raise your left arm and right leg simultaneously while keeping the spine in the neutral position. Hold for 10 counts and repeat 10 times. Get back to the normal position. Now repeat the same with the right arm and left leg.
3. Bent leg raise
This is another simple exercise that is known to strengthen the abdominal buttock muscles along with improving the overall flexibility of the back and spine. For this, get on all fours with your knees and hands on the ground and spine parallel to the floor. Now raise bent knee while keeping the spine in neutral. Hold for 10 counts and repeat 10 times. Repeat the same with the other knee.
This exercise helps to improve core strength in both men and women. It not only helps to tone your body and aid in weight loss but also helps to improve posture. This exercise is similar to a push-up however, in this you need to hold on to the position for a maximum time. To do this, you need to lie flat on your stomach. Raise your body on forearms and toes such that the spine is parallel to the floor. Hold for a minute and repeat it twice, if doing for the first time. You can slowly increase the count (reps) and also the time to hold the position.
Squats help in strengthening the buttock and thigh muscles along with the abdominal muscles. However, one thing you must keep in mind when squatting is to keep the back in a neutral position and not put too much pressure on the back. Also, do not let your knees cross your toes. To start off, you need to stand straight with your feet at least 1 feet apart (wider than your hips). Now, with your arms in the front and parallel to the floor, squat. Ensure that all your weight is on the heels and your entire body is stiff. Also, make sure your knees are in line with your feet and squat down until your hips are lower than your knees. Hold for 10 counts and repeat 10 times.
6. T and Y Raise
These help in strengthening the upper back muscles. To do this exercise, you need to have a Swiss ball. Lie on your stomach on a Swiss ball and support your legs against a wall. Now slowly raise your hands in the front such that they form a Y-shape. As you do so, make sure the weight is on the body and the legs. Come to the starting position. Now, stretch your arms to sideways to make a T-shape. Hold for 10 counts and repeat 10 times.
7. Thoracic Extension
As the name suggests, this exercise eases the pressure on the neck, spine and back and helps in improving the flexibility. To perform the exercise, you need to get on all 4 limbs and keep the spine in a neutral position. Lift one arm and anchor it to the back of the head. Open out the elbow as you move your hand so as to face towards the ceiling. Hold on to this position for 10 counts and repeat at least 10 times to get a healthy back.
8. Abdominal crunches
Known to help in weight loss and get a flat stomach, abdominal crunches are also known to relieve the strain on the spine and back and help prevent back pain in the long. To do this, lie on your back with your spine in neutral position. With your legs bend at the knees and feet on the floor, slowly raise the upper body. You can support your neck by placing your hands at the back of your head. Hold for 10 counts and repeat 10 times.
These are some simple and effective exercises which can help you to prevent back pain and keep your spine healthy. However, if you are already suffering from a back problem or have undergone any surgery of the back and spine, then do consult your doctor before you try to perform these exercises for a healthy back. Also, if you are a beginner, it is wise to take professional help or perform the exercise under trained professional to reap the maximum benefits.
(The article is reviewed by Dr. Swati Mishra, Medical Editor)
1. Husky MM, Ferdous Farin F, Compagnone P, et al. Chronic back pain and its association with quality of life in a large French population survey. Health Qual Life Outcomes. 2018 Sep 26;16(1):195.
2. Shemshaki H, Nourian SM, Fereidan-Esfahani M, et al. What is the source of low back pain? J Craniovertebr Junction Spine. 2013 Jan;4(1):21-4.