Exercises With Photos for Instant Lower Back Pain Relief
Chronic Back Pain: Quick Facts
- Americans spend $50 billion (not million) every year on back pain.
- Low back pain is the largest cause of disability around the world. (Source: the Global Burden of Disease 2010.)
- One in two working Americans have complained of back pain symptoms every year.
- Here's the most important fact: the most common cause of back pain is mechanical: wrong posture, long work hours, lack of exercise, incorrect lifting.
(Source: American Chiropractic Association)
I Lived With Back Pain for 15 Years
Chronic lower back pain is very common and can significantly affect productivity. According to American Chiropractic Association, as many as 31 million Americans experience lower-back pain at any given time.
As a writer, I spend long hours sitting in front of my computer, and I end up with severe back pain every day.
In fact, I have had back pain for almost 15 years, and I looked for many solutions for back pain. At one stage, I could not even sit for five minutes. I went to my physician who sent me to a chiropractor. That didn't work. Then I went and saw a physiotherapist for six months. When that didn't help, I went back to my doctor, who then sent me to an osteopath.
I consulted osteopath for back pain for three months. After an x-ray and an MRI scan, he gave me a steroid injection. The effect lasted for about three months and I was all good. Then the back pain returned.
After that, I saw an alternative healing expert for a while. That was magical. He suggested that I do some reading. I read a few books, which helped me deepen my understanding and knowledge of my back pain.
Based on my research, I tried various exercises. I also developed a list of sitting postures that suited me. Finally, I worked towards a routine that involved regular breaks from my computer (which is hard when you are engrossed in work).
After trial and error for a few years, I have devised a plan that involves easy-to-follow steps. I have learned that relieving chronic back pain is easy with exercises, as well as some discipline.
My back pain relief plan comprises three "R"s:
- Regular exercises
- Regular breaks
- Right posture
In this article, I will share with you my regular back pain exercises. These are good for quick relief from back pain, as well as for preventing the pain in the first place.
(Note: While these exercises give you instant relief from the tension, you will need to keep doing these exercises regularly, so as to get rid of back pain completely. This takes time.)
Exercise 1: Lying-Down Quad Stretch
Lie on your left side. Let your head rest in your left palm. Keep both legs straight and stretched. Now bend your right leg at knee and hold your ankle with your right hand. Now gently pull your ankle upwards towards your head. You should feel a very light pain in your lower back.
Squeeze your butt. Hold this position to the count of 15 to 20. Release your ankle and bring the leg back to the straight position.
Now turn and lie on your right side. Repeat.
Exercise 2: Cat-Cow Exercise
This one is a good exercise for immediate relief from backache.
This position immediately removes the tension from the lower back, and helps relieve back pain instantly.
Get down on your knees and put your palms on the ground. Now arch your back so that your stomach sticks out. Imagine that you are trying to touch the ground with your navel.
Don't bend your hands. Keep them straight. Keep your thighs at ninety degrees to the ground. Hold it for five seconds.
Now curve your back outwards. Imagine that you are trying to touch the ceiling of your room with your spine. You can turn your head inwards. Hold it for five seconds.
Do about 10 repetitions or more if it gives you more relief. This is my favorite exercise, and I do it about twice a day.
Exercise 3: Dhanurasan
I love this exercise because it lets me get the maximum stretch to my back. I do it as and when needed.
This pose is called Dhanurasan in yoga—the name comes from the Sankrit word Dhanush, which stands for a bow used in archery.
Lie on your stomach. Bend your legs at knee and bring them up. Hold your ankles with both hands - left ankle with left hand and right ankle with right hand.
Now try to straighten your legs slowly. This will cause a stretch. Keep pulling as you begin to feel the stretch. Look up towards the ceiling or as high as you can without discomforting yourself.
Once you reach the maximum possible stretch, hold that position to the count of 10 or for as long as you can.
You will feel the tension in your back releasing, and your back pain going away.
Exercise Regularly For Back Pain
How often do you exercise for back pain?
Summary of back pain exercises
- Most back pain is not serious. It is a result of incorrect posture and long working hours.
- Most back pain is chronic - it is built up over a period of time.
- Similarly, most back pain can be cured with regular exercises.
- While these exercises give immediate relief, the back pain will not disappear completely overnight. Since the back pain is built up over a period of time, it will also go over a period of time.
Precautions Before Doing These Exercises
If you are already suffering from severe back pain, then you have a lot of tension built up in your spine.
Remember, the spine is the main communication system of the whole body. It is a very delicate part of your body.
Go slow with these exercises. While it is good to feel some discomfort, which indicates release of tension, stop immediately if you feel any pain.
If you are doing these back pain exercises for the first time, then don't become over-ambitious. Take baby steps. Stretch only as far as you can go.
The key to successfully dealing with back pain is not pushing your limits. The best way to address backache is being regular with your exercises.
Take regular breaks from your computer. Put a timer on your laptop or phone. I like to set my timer for 25 minutes, followed by a five-minute break. I find it also improves my productivity, as I return to work with a fresh mind after the short break.
Lying-Down Quad Stretch
Releases tenstion in the side-muscles of back
Exercises stomach and back muscles simultaneously. Builds balance
Don't push yourself too much, else you may hurt your stomach muscles.
Improves blood circulation; reduces abdominal fat
Maintain balance. Don't stretch too much so as to avoid damage to muscles in shoulder sockets
Quick Tips for Preventing Back Pain
- Soft mattresses don't give enough support to the back. Very firm mattress can cause stiffness. Sleep on a medium-firm mattress.
- Avoid junk food. Keep a healthy diet.
- Walk regularly. If you prefer to run on a treadmill, start slowly and build momentum.
- Avoid high-heeled shoes whenever possible. If you have to wear high heels, don't wear them for too long.
- Stop smoking. Smoking reduces blood flow and makes our spine more vulnerable to injury.
(Source: American Chiropractic Association)