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Flexibility and Strength Exercises Can Help Ease Your Back Pain

Jul 6, 2008
If you have ever had a serious backache, you understand just how important your back is - even for things you think don't involve the back so much. For instance, squeezing a tennis ball involves a lot more than your hand; the latissimus dorsi and other back muscles come into play during this motion.

The lats are the large 'side' muscles that make a man triangle-shaped. To demonstrate how they are used during squeezing a tennis ball, try it! You'll quickly feel a tensing of the muscles on the side of the arm you use. It's especially noticeable if you have back pain.

Powerful back muscles are critical to participating in any sport. They are used for coordination, balance and speed, as well as providing a strong base for the movement of your limbs.

Following are a few easy exercises which can help you improve the strength and flexibility of these key muscles. You will see the most benefits from these exercises when they are done on a firm - not hard - surface. A hard surface will cause needless discomfort to your bony parts.

Knee to Chest

While lying on your back, clasp both hands behind one thigh. Pull your thigh towards your chest slowly while ensuring that you keep your other leg flat. Flex your ankle as you do this - alternate between pointing your toe and pulling it back towards your knee while stretching your leg. Hold each position for about five seconds, switch legs and do it over again. Repeat 10 times.

Rotations

Do this one while lying back with your feet flat on the floor, knees together and raised. Extend your arms but keep them close to your body and keep your palms flat on the floor as well. Lift your feet just slightly off the ground and by moving your knee, rotate your torso. Move your knees a little to the left, then right. Alternate the exercise by crossing your arms over your chest, then repeat.

As you continue to practice this exercise, you will build flexibility and will be able to have a wider range of motion with this exercise. Eventually, you'll be able to touch your knee to the floor.

Pelvic Press

While lying on your back, knees raised and feet on the floor, push the small of your back into the floor - you should feel your lower abdomen tense. Do this exercise with your feet together, then apart. Hold each press for about five seconds while continuing to breathe normally.

Pelvic Lift

Lie on your back, knees raised and feet flat on the ground, arms crossed over your chest. Keeping the legs and knees together, raise the buttocks up slightly and hold for 5 seconds. Lower slowly, count to two, then repeat. Remember to breathe normally through the exercise, in and out slowly.

Dog Stretches

Starting position for this exercise is on all fours with your head raised - look forward to achieve proper posture for this exercise. Lowering your arms, arch your back and hold this position for two seconds before returning to your starting position. Extend one leg, parallel to the floor (or as close to parallel as possible). Hold this position for three seconds, then return to starting position again. This exercise can cause hip, leg or back pain in some - if it does this for you, stop this exercise immediately.

Repeat this exercise with the other leg. You can mix it up by extending your leg with toe pointed, then flex your ankle in a perpendicular direction to the leg; hold this position for two seconds, then repeat. You should do ten reps of this exercise for each leg.

Never perform these exercises if they produce back pain. Mild discomfort from inactivity is natural. Pain is a signal that something is wrong. Consult your physician.
About the Author
Kim Archer knows what it's like to suffer from chronic back pain. She is a regular contributor to Cure Your Back Pain, a great information source on causes and treatments of back pain.
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