How to Prevent Back Pain? These Exercises Will Help!

How To Prevent Back Pain
Editor's Note: This article has been recently updated with latest information and research studies.
 

Most of us experience back pain at one point or another. It can come and go or in other instances, the pain is more persistent. Even though we don’t think back pain is a big deal, the reality is different.

Experiencing pain and discomfort in your back can have a major impact on your quality of life.

With proper strategies, it is entirely possible to prevent or manage back pain and this post will show you how.

How common is Back Pain?

Back pain is common, even more, prevalent than we think. For example, evidence shows that prevalence of chronic low back pain[1] has risen significantly over the past two decades.

Below, You Can Take A Look At Some Important Back Pain Statistics[2]:

  • 8 out of every 10 Americans will develop back problem at some point in their lives
  • Back problems are more common in women than men
  • 30.2% or a third of female adults suffer from lower back pain
  • 26.4% or a quarter of male adults deal with lower back pain
  • 54% of Americans who experience low back pain spend most of their day sitting
  • 1 in 10 people finds out the primary cause of their back pain
  • Americans spend at least $50 billion each year on back pain[3]

What are the Causes of Back Pain?

Causes of Back Pain

Before we move on to exercises for prevention and management of back pain, let’s talk about the causes first.

As seen above, only a small portion of the US population will know the real reason behind back pain.

Causes are numerous stemming from injuries to mechanical issues. Here is the basic rundown of causes of back pain:

How to Prevent Back Pain?

Fastmed Back Pain

Back pain affects everyone, but it doesn’t mean you’re helpless without a thing to do when the pain occurs.

There are many things you can do to prevent back pain and they involve simple, yet effective lifestyle modifications. Here are the most effective things to try to prevent[4] back pain:

  • Keep Your Weight In A Healthy Range – Being overweight or obese increases* your risk of back pain due to excess weight that causes more pressure, particularly in the lower back region.
    If you are overweight, simple lifestyle tweaks can help you slim down
  • Well-Balanced Diet – What we eat has a major impact on every part of our body, including our back.

    Maintaining good eating habits allows you keep weight in a healthy range or slim down, delivers much-needed vitamins and minerals your spine needs etc. Ditch junk food in favor of fruits, vegetables, whole grains

  • Consider Changing Your Mattress – Sleeping on a wrong mattress can contribute to back pain and make it even worse. A good mattress should provide support for the natural curves and alignment of the spine.

    For example, a good air bed can be of huge help for some people because you can set as firm as you please[5].

    That said, there is no specific type of mattress that people should use to prevent or manage back pain because different options work for you and someone else.

    Ideally, you should go for the mattress that benefits your back the most and provides desired balance of comfort and firmness

  • Inflatable Bed
  • Sleep Sideways – It’s not just about where you sleep, but how. The best position to sleep is sideways, but if you have the habit to sleep on your stomach then places a pillow under the lower abdomen to reduce* the stress on your back.
  • Pay Attention To Your Posture – The worst thing you can do to your back is to slouch almost all day.

    Hunched over posture and avoiding to sit and stand with back straight can have a negative impact on the curves of your back and increase* the amount of pressure on the spine.

    On the other hand, proper posture keeps your spine and entire back region strong

  • Manage Stress – When left unresolved, stress creates different issues and it can affect your back, too. How?

    Stress makes your muscles tense. Constant tension causes pain. Any activity you find relaxing can help reduce* stress, even exercise

Besides these simple lifestyle changes, exercise is the most important thing you can do for back pain prevention.

When you’re not in good shape, you are more likely to sustain an injury or experience pain while physical activity allows your muscles to move.

Exercises For Back Pain Prevention

1. Abdominal Bracing

Abdominal Bracing

The exercise works to strengthen your back and core. Here’s how to do abdominal bracing:

  • Lie on the ground with knees bent
  • Ensure feet are flat on the floor
  • Tighten the abdominal muscles
  • Flatten your back
  • Hold for 5 seconds
  • Return to the starting position

2. Extension-In-Standing

The exercise is usually performed to prevent back pain, especially after long periods of sitting, bending, or before heavy lifting.

To perform this simple exercise, you should:

  • Stand with feet slightly wider than hips
  • Ensure the knees are slightly bent
  • Rest the hands on your lower back
  • Gently arch lower back, neck, and head backward making sure hips are going slightly forward
  • Pause and return to the starting position

3. Superman

Superman Pose

Superman strengthens the muscles on the back side, particularly in the lower back area.
In addition, the exercise stabilizes your back and strengthens core muscles. It’s easy to do Superman, all you have to do is to:

  • Lie down on stomach with arms and legs extended
  • Head and neck should be in a neutral position
  • Simultaneously lift arms and legs toward the ceiling
  • Make sure your arms and legs are straight the entire time
  • Hold the position for 2-5 seconds and release

4. Abdominal Bridging

The bridge strengthens the lower back area and helps stabilize the spine. To do this exercise you should:

  • Lie on the ground with knees slightly bend and your feet are flat on the floor
  • Tighten the abdominal muscles
  • Push down with your legs
  • Lift the butt and lower back off the ground
  • Raise the butt until your legs, hips, and back from a straight line
  • Hold for 5 seconds and return to the starting position

5. Downward Dog

Downward Dog

A downward dog can be performed on its own or as a mild stretch before and after exercise. This is a yoga posture that stretches low back, hamstrings, lower legs, and feet.

Downward dog is also a pose of strength and helps you strengthen the spine to prevent or manage back pain. Here’s the process:

  • Start in the kneeling position on your mat
  • Make sure your hands are directly under your shoulders and fingers spread wide
  • Tuck the toes under and engage the abdominals while pushing the body off of the mat
  • Move your chest slightly toward the thighs and heels towards the floor
  • Remain in the position for a few seconds and release

6. Cat/Camel

This is a gentle exercise[6] that stretches and strengthens the muscles that stabilize the spine.

When performed regularly, cat/camel improves* the function of your back and reduces* the risk of pain. The instructions are below:

  • Start on all fours with hands under your shoulders and knees beneath hips
  • Tighten the abdominal muscles
  • Round your back like you’re rounding over an exercise ball
  • Hold the position for 10 seconds and release

7. Bird Dog

Bird Dog

Bird dog strengthens the front and back side of the midsection, thus preventing low back pain. Here’s how to do this exercise:

  • Start on all fours with back flat
  • Engage the abdominal muscles
  • Lift the left leg behind you and right arm in front
  • Stay in the position for a few seconds and release
  • Lift your right leg with left arm and repeat the process

8. Lower Trunk Rotation

Lower trunk rotation enhances* the flexibility in lower back region and hips. The exercise allows for greater rotation and mobility of the spine thus help you prevent or manage back pain.

The process is easy, you should:

  • Start on the back with knees bent and feet flat on the ground
  • Ensure your knees are together and bring them to one side while feet are on the ground
  • Stay in the position for 3-5 seconds
  • While moving your legs to the opposite side, contract the abdominal muscles
  • Hold for 3-5 seconds again

9. Knee To Chest

The purpose of this exercise is to stretch your hip and low back[7]. The maneuver also relieves the pressure on spinal nerves by giving them more space to exit your spine.
In order to do the exercise, you should:

  • Begin on your back and pull one knee using the hands toward your chest gently
  • Hold the knee for 5-10 seconds. While doing this, you will feel the stretch in hip and low back areas
  • Switch legs and repeat the same process
  • Repeat a few reps alternating legs
  • Finalize the workout by pulling both legs to your chest at the same time
  • Stay in the position for 10 seconds and release

10. Mid-Back Extension

Mid-Back Extension

Mid-back extension is similar to the Superman, it strengthens the muscles of the upper back and core and opens up your chest to promote good posture.

To perform this exercise, you should:

  • Being lying face down on mat
  • Lift your abs away from the mat to engage them
  • Slide the shoulders down the back
  • Ensure your body is forming a long line
  • Lift the chest away from the mat using back muscles and core
  • Take a deep breath and get into the starting position

11. Medicine Ball High-To-Low Chop

This exercise strengthens the core, back, and legs while increasing* calorie burn at the same time.

It’s also a great way to improve* range of motion and target different muscle groups. To do the exercise, you should:

  • Stand with feet hip-width apart holding the medicine ball in two hands over your right shoulder
  • Bend your knees
  • Lower the body into squat position while pulling the ball to your left ankle
  • While standing up reach the ball back to your right shoulder
  • Switch sides and repeat the same process

12. Full Body Roll-Up

Full body roll-up is an easy exercise that strengthens the core and helps to stretch and lengthen back and hamstrings.

Since it uses the full range of motion, this exercise activates more muscle fibers than some core exercises. To do the exercise, you should:

  • Begin by lying on the mat ensuring* the arms are extended over your head, feet flexed, and legs long
  • Lift arms up and start curling chin and chest forward
  • Roll the entire torso up and over legs keeping abs engaged
  • Try to reach for the toes i.e. extend your arms toward the feet as long as you can
  • Take a deep breath and begin returning to the starting position gradually, roll your spine down one vertebra after another
Full Body Roll-Up

13. Partial Crunches

Partial crunches are easy to perform and have a great potential to strengthen your back and stomach muscles. In order to perform this exercise you should:

  • Lie with knees bent and feet flat on the ground
  • Cross arms over your chest or put them behind your back
  • Tighten abdominal muscles and raise shoulders off the ground
  • Hold for a second or two and slowly lower yourself back into the starting position

See More: Top 10 Natural Treatments For Chronic Back Pain Management That Work

Conclusion

Back pain is common, it occurs due to injury, trauma, or some structural problems that affect your spine. Although prevalent, back pain is preventable with healthy lifestyle and regular exercise.

Back exercises can improve* range of motion and stability of the spine while giving you more strength at the same time.

Not only they can prevent back pain, but they can also help you manage discomfort and pain you already experience.

References

[1] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4339077/
[2] http://www.thegoodbody.com/back-pain-statistics/
[3] https://www.acatoday.org/Patients/Health-Wellness-Information/Back-Pain-Facts-and-Statistics
[4] https://www.everydayhealth.com/pain-management/back-pain/quick-tips-to-help-prevent-back-pain.aspx
[5] https://thesleepstudies.com/best-air-mattress-reviews/
[6] http://www.prevention.com/fitness/5-best-moves-to-prevent-and-ease-back-pain/slide/5
[7] https://www.spineuniverse.com/conditions/back-pain/back-pain-exercises-stretches

Image Credits
Feature Image Credit: Shutterstock.com
In Post Image Credit: myinflatablebed.com & Shutterstock.com

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Author

Expert Author : Dr. Ahmed Zayed (Consumer Health Digest)

Dr. Ahmed Zayed Helmy holds a baccalaureate of Medicine and Surgery. He has completed his degree in 2011 at the University of Alexandria, Egypt. Dr. Ahmed believes in providing knowledgeable information to readers. Other than his passion for writing, currently he is working as a Plastic surgeon and is doing his masters at Ain shams University.