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This Month In Body
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Health and Fitness News

Watch Your Back!

What exercises should you do with back pain?

Do you suffer from lower back pain? You’re not alone. Back pain is the third most common complaint seen by doctors, and most people will experience back pain at some point in their life. The vast majority of back pain is caused by everyday wear and tear. If your pain is constant, keeps you from sleep, is caused by an injury, or is accompanied by leg pain, see your doctor. Otherwise, one of the best remedies for back pain is stretching and exercise.

You may be tempted to rest until your pain is gone, but that may only make things worse. Exercise increases blood flow for healing, strengthens weak muscles, and relaxes tight muscles. Just be careful. Some exercises can do your back harm. If your back is sore, remember this list of good and bad exercises for back pain.

Safe Stretching

Looking for back pain relief in the moment? Get on the floor and stretch twice a day. Avoid stretches such as toe touches, which place stress on your spine and may overstretch your hamstrings or lower back.

Looking for safe options? Try knee-to-chest stretches, lower back rotational stretches, the cat-cow stretch, and the seated lower back rotational stretch.

To do knee-to-chest stretches, lie on your back, bend your knees, and keep your feet flat on the floor. Place your hands behind one knee and gently pull your knee toward your chest. Keep your abs tight and your spine pressed against the floor. Hold this position for five seconds and then switch knees.

Practice lower back rotational stretches to relieve tight muscles in your lower back. Lie on your back, bend your knees, and place your feet flat on the floor. While keeping your shoulders against the floor, lower your knees down toward the floor on one side. Hold, return to starting position, and then lower your knees toward the other side.

The cat cow stretch lengthens back muscles to ease tension and add strength. Get on your hands and knees with your knees hip-width apart. Arch your back by sucking in your belly button and raising your back toward the ceiling like a scared cat. Relax your muscles, let your belly button lower toward the floor and arch your head back like a cow. Alternate these positions.

Another stretch to relieve back pain is the seated lower back rotational stretch. While sitting on a chair or stool, place your hands behind your head and twist your upper body to one side. Hold and then twist to the other side.

Keep Cardio on the Downlow

You don’t want to skip your cardio workouts when your back hurts. While it’s best to avoid high-impact exercise, low- or no-impact workouts are typically safe, since they’re easy on your joints and spine. With these exercises, there’s no jumping, running, sharp twisting, or jarring movements that could further harm your back. Examples include walking, yoga, using the elliptical, swimming, and cycling.

Partial Crunches

When your abs and core are strong, they help support your spine and keep your hips aligned for back health. Crunches may be your go-to exercise for strengthening your abs, but they can cause strain and more pain. Go with partial crunches instead of sit-ups to strengthen your core and protect your back.

For partial crunches, get on your back with your knees bent. Keep your feet flat on the floor and place your hands behind your head. Slowly raise your shoulders and head a couple inches off the floor. Focus to ensure you lift with your abs, not your neck or arms. Hold and then lower your head to the floor. Repeat. Your lower back and feet should stay on the floor the whole time.

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