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Oh, my Aching Back! The Power of Strength & Stretch in Reducing Back Pain

By | Exercise | One Comment

Steve Kerr, the coach of the 2015 NBA Championship Warriors, can’t sit or stand very well. He blames it all on back surgery and the resulting spinal fluid leak. To do it again, he wouldn’t. In fact, he’s taken to the media to encourage more folks to look at physical therapy and exercise before undergoing surgery.  Back health is becoming more and more important to both the physically fit and sedentary populations.

Back pain is one of the most common and persistent pains in adults; it affects almost 40% of Americans over the age of 35 at some point in their life.

Obviously, I can’t diagnose all of my readers, but let me share 3 exercises below that help mobilize the spine and stretch your muscles:

Cat Stretch

STARTING POSITION: Position yourself on hands and knees with arms under the shoulders and knees under the hips and your back aligned straight as though you can balance a glass of water across your hips and shoulders.

EXERCISE POSITION: Draw navel inwards as you round your spine upwards while dropping your tailbone and crown of the head downwards. Hold position for 3 deep inhales and exhales then return to starting position.  Repeat 5-10 times

Spine Twist

STARTING POSITION: Lie on your side with your head shoulders and hips lined up and your hips and knees bent at 90 degrees (or at a right angle).  Reach your arms straight out in front of your shoulders with palms together.

EXERCISE POSITION: Lift the top arm toward the ceiling and continue to reach the arm out to the side allowing the upper torso to rotate and front of chest to open and face the ceiling.  Hold position for 3 deep inhales and exhales then return to starting position.  Repeat 5-10 times

Swan Extension

STARTING POSITION: Lie face down with legs extended straight shoulder width apart and toes gently pointed, arms bent with palms on the floor along the side of your head or higher and the spine extended long from the crown of your head to tailbone with nose hovering off the floor.

EXERCISE POSITION: Keeping the spine long push palms into the floor as you lift your chest, then elbows, then ribs and stomach away from the floor.  Hold position for 3 deep inhales and exhales then return to starting position.  Repeat 5-10 times

These are all yummy feel good exercises that my clients love. They are wonderful exercises to reconnect with the muscles and soft tissue structures around the spine that we have lost touch with because of pain or inactivity.

My pictures are examples of the exercise positions and if you are unable to stretch to the point that I have, then only move to the point where you feel comfortable.  These are pretty much standard exercises that I do with all my clients and most of them take these same exercises home to do daily – especially those with back pain.

As you see, I am able to do these easily on the floor in the comfort of home and you don’t even need a mat if you don’t have one, just lie on the carpet or spread out a beach towel.  Exercises like these are good “ME” time. Take your time with them. Stretch out on the floor, take deep breaths and get out of your mind and into your body.

ENJOY AND FEEL GOOD!