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Back pain: What are the best and worst exercises you can do at home to alleviate back pain

Back pain doesn’t normally have a serious cause and in most cases the pain will improve within four to six weeks. However, for some, back pain can continue for many months or even years and negatively affect their daily lives. When it comes to exercises to help alleviate the problem, avoid workouts that put too much stress and strain on the back. What are the best exercises to do at home that will help with back pain?

Your back has many connected parts, including bones, joints, muscles, ligaments, nerves and tendons


Bupa said of back pain: “Your back has many connected parts, including bones, joints, muscles, ligaments, nerves and tendons.

Your spine supports your back and is made up of 24 separate bones called vertebrae stacked on top of one another. It’s usually difficult for doctors to say exactly what’s causing back pain.

This is because there are so many different parts to your back and tissues that surround it.

Even tests such as x-rays and MRI scans don’t help for most people.”

In most cases you can manage back pain yourself by keeping mobile and perhaps taking over-the-counter painkillers.

When it comes to exercising at home, some of the best moves with the least impact include:

Partial crunches

One of the classic core-strengthening workouts is the partial stomach crunch. Partial crunches build strength in both the lower back and related stomach muscles, making this exercise ideal for people with back pain.

Lie back and keep feet flat on the floor with the knees bent. Place your hands behind your head and lift your your shoulders from the floor.

Avoid leading with your elbows and hold for one second and repeat.

Hamstring stretches

This exercise relieves the back of the leg, where some of the muscles that support the work of the lower spine are found.

To perform a hamstring stretch first lie on your back with one knee bent. Next, thread a towel beneath the ball of the foot on the unbent leg.

Pull back on the towel, straightening the knee. Hold for 15-30 seconds and repeat with each leg.

Wall sits

Wall sits are a great way to alleviate lower back pain. To do wall sits stand with your back facing the wall at a distance of about 10 to 12 inches.

Carefully lead into the wall until the spine is flat against it. Slide down with the knees bent and hold this position for a count of 10. Repeat eight to 12 times.

Bird dog

The bird dog is a great way to learn to stabilise the low back during movements of the arms and legs.

To do this position, get on your hands and knees, tightening the abdominal muscles. With one leg, lift and extend behind while keeping the hips level.

Hold the position for  full five seconds and then switch legs. When doing this exercise it’s important to now allow the lower back to sag.

Sit-ups should be avoided completely as it puts too much pressure on the neck and spine and could lead to a herniated disc.

Other home exercises to avoid are lifting heavy overhead weights, planking, and incorrect squats. 

Doctor Mary Anne Wilmarth said of incorrect squats: “The real problem is you can get away with bad technique with squatting when you’re young, and you think nothing bad will happen until it happens.

“Even if you haven’t been injured doing squats, that doesn’t mean you’re doing them right. Start over with body-weight squats, and perfecting your form before adding weight. Basically, re-teach yourself the exercise the right way.”

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