Five Exercises to Lessen Backpain
Finding the motivation to work out with excruciating back pain can be challenging. When back pain is present during a workout, it typically means that you are using your back more than your core. A weak core could cause poor technique and can lead to back pain. However, don’t cancel your monthly gym membership quite yet. These five exercises, done a couple of times a week, will strengthen your core and lessen back pain.
1. Glute Bridges
This exercise is excellent for strengthening your back and core muscles. Glute bridges can be done with or without weights, making it easy to do this exercise at home. With glute bridges, you can increase or decrease the amount of weight you want to lift. If you don’t have a variety of weights, simply increase the reps for a more strenuous workout.
As it says in the name, Glute Bridges also help tone your gluteal muscles. This is a key exercise to add to your weekly workouts because it can prevent harmful technique patterns that injure the lower back muscles. This exercise improves posture as well, which will eventually lessen back pain. Most people spend most of the day sitting in an office chair or relaxing on the couch. When we sit for long periods, the hip flexors on the forefront of your thighs will get tight, pulling you forward, which leads to slouching. With glute bridges, you strengthen the front of your thighs and the glutes. This makes sure that your hip flexors won’t tighten.
Glute Bridges at the gym:
- Grabbing a bar, put on as much weight as you want
- Laying down on a yoga mat, rest the bar on your hips.
- If you find laying down and lifting challenging, prop your upper back slightly with a bench or a pillow.
- Slightly tilt your hips up and down for one rep
- Make sure to focus on engaging the core, using it to push up the bar instead of your back.
- Repeat steps 4 and 5
Glute Bridges at home:
- Grab a yoga mat and lay down
- Inhale and exhale; on the next inhale, engage the core and tilt your hips off the ground. Again, it’s okay if you can’t go too far; this exercise can be subtle but effective.
- If you need more support, rest the upper half of your body against a chair or a pillow.
- Lift one leg up for a more strenuous glute bridge workout without weights. Repeat step 2.
2. Wall Sits
This exercise is excellent for those with back pain because it’s a low-stress squat. Since you’re pressing your back into the wall, it takes the strain off your back, lessening back pain. Instead of using your back, this exercise allows you to use your thigh muscles more. It’s a ideal substitute exercise if squatting causes discomfort. This five-minute daily exercise can improve your balance, mobility, and core strength and strengthen your calf muscles. These will help with back pain, primarily by increasing your core strength.
How to do a wall sit:
- Lower yourself into a squatting position with your back against the wall. Remember to make sure your back stays against the wall. Although you can put your legs out as far as you want, your comfort during this exercise is essential.
- Hold the squat for anywhere from 10 to 30 seconds. Make sure to squeeze those core muscles and thighs so you aren’t using your back.
- Slowly slide up the wall, bringing yourself to a standing position. Repeat as much as you want.
With back pain, you might find yourself only being able to do this exercise for one or two minutes. That is okay! It’s vital to check in with your body after every wall sit to assess your pain level. Over time, your core muscles will strengthen, and you will be able to do more wall sits.
3. Partial Crunches
This exercise is ideal because it directly targets your core muscles. Often, the source of back pain is a weak core. If you’re a beginner, you might have some difficulty with this exercise, as it’s easy to use your back muscles instead. Don’t give up! If you’re experiencing back pain with partial crunches, take deep breaths and focus on tightening those core muscles. Once you notice you’re using your back (feeling more tension in your back than in your core), stop doing this exercise and do some stretches instead. With time, your core strength will increase, and you’ll notice you use your core muscles more often. When your core muscles are strengthened, the back pain will lessen.
How to do partial crunches:
1. Make sure to lay down on a soft carpet or a yoga mat. Then, lying down, bring your knees up and plant your feet on the floor.
2. You can either cross your arms on your chest or place your hands behind your head. Take a deep breath in.
3. When you exhale, engage the core muscles. Then, using those muscles, bring yourself slightly off the floor.
4. Breathing in, lay flat against the carpet or yoga mat. Repeat at your discretion.
You can graduate to full crunches if you’re looking for a more challenging version of this exercise. Always engage the core as you bring yourself to a full sitting position.
When dealing with back pain, most exercises target the core area. This is an optimal area to strengthen to ease back pain, but it’s not the only area that can help. Strengthening your glutes will also be beneficial if you struggle with lower back pain. Clamshells are an excellent exercise because it’s low stress on your body, and you’re lying down during the duration of this exercise. You can do this exercise with or without resistance bands; however, resistance bands help ensure the tension is in your glutes, not your lower back, which will lessen back pain.
How to do a clamshell:
1. Put resistance band(s) on just above the knee.
2. On a soft carpet or a yoga mat, lay on your side.
3. Bring your knees up at a 90-degree angle, ensuring your shoulders line up with your hips.
4. Breathing in, lift up the leg on the top. Your feet should never come apart while doing this exercise. Make sure you feel the tension in your glutes and not in your lower back. This is important, if you focus on activating those glutes instead of your back, it will lessen back pain. Bring your knees closer if you notice pressure or pain in your lower back. It might take some adjusting to figure out how to use your glutes instead of your back.
5. Slowly bring your leg down. Repeat this motion about 10 times, checking in with your body and ensuring the tension stays in your glutes.
For a more intense clamshell, add more resistance bands above your knee. Another thing you can do is increase the number of clamshells.
5. Bird dog exercise
This is another exercise that aids in decreasing lower back pain. This exercise is ideal if you experience intense back pain or are recovering from a back injury. This exercise targets the back and core muscles. It also targets the glutes, which will help with squats and deadlifts.
How to do bird dog exercise:
- Make sure the space you choose has enough room for you to extend your leg and your arm. A yoga mat is ideal when exercising on the floor, but a soft carpet or rug will work fine.
- Getting on your hands and knees, extend your back right leg.
- Once you feel balanced, extend your left arm. Hold it for 10 to 15 seconds.
- Optional: if you feel confident and ready, bring your leg and your arm in, with your elbow and knee touching. Make sure your core is engaged! Extend your arm and leg and repeat at your discretion
If you can only extend your arm and leg while doing bird dog, that’s okay! Building those core muscles takes time and a lot of patience. Eventually, you will get to a point where you can do step 4. If you have mastered step 4, increase the number of reps.
These five exercises are proven to decrease upper and lower back pain. Skip cracking your back to ease pain; doing these exercises for five minutes daily will lessen back pain and strengthen your body. Soon, you will find yourself able to do workouts at the gym you deemed impossible months prior.