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Back Pain and Stretching Exercise

Back problems can be greatly reduced by including stretching and strengthening exercises in your fitness program. However, if you've suffered from back injury in the past or have other health problems, such as osteoporosis, check with your doctor before starting an exercise program.

Remember to warm up before doing stretching exercises. A good warm up sets the stage for more intense activity. It improves your circulation, increases muscle temperature and your breathing rate. Warming up allows your body to adjust to the demands of the exercises that you're about to do. It can boost your performance and help you get your desired results. Failure to warm up leaves your back susceptible to injuries that may result in further problems. A simple way to warm up is by doing low impact aerobic activity such as five minutes of walking, marching in place or cycling.

Below are some simple exercises that can help strengthen your back and its supporting muscles:

Back extensions

Low back pain commonly occurs when the back muscles are weak. The back extension involves subtle movements that target your lower back. Include this exercise your fitness routine to strengthen your back and lower your risk of back pains.

  1. Lie face down on a mat with your legs straight and place your hands on the floor or at the back of your head.
  1. Tighten your abs throughout the exercise.
  1. Squeeze your back to lift your chest a few inches off the floor.
  1. Lower your chest to go back to starting position. You may do 1 to 3 sets of 10- 16 repetitions

Knee to chest stretch

The knee-to-chest stretch exercise targets the muscles of your lower back.

  1. Lie on your back with the backs of your heels flat on the floor.
  1. Bring one knee up to your chest until you feel a stretch in your lower back.
  1. Keep the other leg relaxed in a comfortable position, with your knee bent or with your leg extended.
  1. Bring your knee as close to the chest as comfortably possible.
  1. Hold the position for about 30 seconds.
  1. Change legs and repeat.

Wall Squats

Wall squats work on the muscles of the back, abdomen, buttocks and thigh. Aside from strengthening these muscles, wall squats may help improve your posture.

1.Stand against a wall, heels about 18 inches from the wall, feet shoulder-width apart.

2.Tighten abs. Slide slowly down the wall into a crouch with knees bent to about 90 degrees. If this is too difficult, you can bend your knees to 45 degrees and gradually increase from there.

  1. Hold for five seconds
  1. Slowly slide back up the wall.
  1. Repeat 5 times.

Egoscue Method

The Egoscue Method is a postural therapy program developed by Pete Egoscue, a renowned anatomical functionalist. Egoscue therapy offers safe, effective, and permanent relief from chronic pain without drugs, surgery, or manipulation. This method involves a series of exercises that are designed to fully restore natural motion capabilities of your muscles and joints'. Athletes from many different sports use the Egoscue method work-outs.

How does it work?

The Egoscue Method strengthens specific muscles to establish a healthy postural alignment and improved functioning. Its approach is based on the understanding that the body needs a healthy alignment of parts from the head down to the feet.

How is it done?

The Egoscue therapist will first ask you about your symptoms. Your posture will assessed, you will be observed as you walk and will be asked to do range of motions to identify the problem areas. A fitness program tailored to your needs will be then be recommended. This may include some gentle stretching, yoga movements and some muscle strengthening exercises that are aimed at correcting postural problems. Most of the stretches are easy to do and some are quite relaxing. It may initially take an hour or more per day. But eventually, you can do the whole routine in about 15 – 20 minutes. Once the postural deficiencies are corrected, the pain will be relieved.

What are its benefits?

Egoscue Therapy is effective in treating various chronic conditions. If you your aches and pains have not resolved after trying pills, steroid shots, surgery and traditional treatments, Egoscue method could work for you. Below are some the benefits of Egoscue therapy:

corrects postural deficiencies and restore natural body movement

improves your overall fitness and strength

exercises are simple and effective

relieves body aches and pains

helps prevent future injuries

  • effectively relieves chronic pain

Visit the Egoscue website for more information about their products and services:

http://www.egoscue.com/

http://www.bigbackpain.com/back_exercises.html

http://www.egoscue.com/painfree/painfree.php

Borgatta, T. Straighten before you strengthen. Orange Coast Magazine Oct 2006

http://rediscovermoving.com/BenefitsofEgoscueTherapy.html

Hoeger, W., Hoeger, S. 2008. Fitness and Wellnes. 8 Edition. Brooks Cole.

http://backandneck.about.com/od/deskexercises/ht/wallsquat.htm

http://orthoinfo.aaos.org/topic.cfm?topic=a00310

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