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Two Exercises to Fix Back Pain

Published February 15, 2019 (Revised: May 22, 2019)
<article> <section> <p>Sometimes it can seem like the way we live our lives now is setting us up to experience back pain. Whether it’s from sitting at a desk all day with poor posture, developing injuries from poor form during exercise, or performing arduous labor that requires standing for long periods of time, back pain can be, well, <i>a pain in the back</i>. In fact, a 2013 survey of over 140,000 patients found that back pain was one of the most common reasons that Americans see the doctor, comprising nearly 24 percent<sup>1</sup> of all visits. The American Chiropractic Association notes that as many as 80 percent<sup>2</sup> of people will experience back pain in their lifetimes.</p> <p>Worse, conventional wisdom tells us that if we’re experiencing back pain, we should rest, reduce movement, and resort to painkillers until the pain goes away. In this article, we’re going to explain to you why that’s completely wrong. In fact, movement is the key to improving pain in your back and preventing worse damage down the line. </p> <p>Here, we’re going to show you two incredible exercises that will not only help you to alleviate your back pain, but also improve your strength and flexibility to ward off future injuries. So keep reading if you’re tired of the aches in your upper and lower back, and you’re ready to make a change.</p> <p>But first, let’s clarify some facts about back pain and how to treat it. In a 2011 study<sup>3</sup> of Japanese workers, researchers looked at nearly 4,000 workers who were experiencing back pain. A year after the initial survey, 100 respondents who had either been prescribed rest or exercise to ease their pain reported back about their experiences. For the rest group, 32.3 percent experienced a recurrence of back pain and injury, while for those who exercised, only 16.1 percent had a recurrence. Other research has offered similar results.</p> <p>With our near decade of experience in exercise and training, we’ve found that while a few days of rest after a back injury can be helpful, ultimately moving your muscles and keeping them fit is the key to providing your spine with the support and strength you need to reduce pain and prevent recurring injuries.</p> <p>The two exercises we’re going to show you here are designed to correct the two main causes of back pain: a weak core and tight hips. We’re going to teach you how to strengthen your core muscles and improve flexibility in your hips so that you can kiss your back pain goodbye. The best part? Both of these moves can be done right in your very own living room.</p> <div class="embed-responsive embed-responsive-16by9 w-md-75 my-5 mx-auto"> <iframe width="560" height="315" src="" frameborder="0" allow="accelerometer; autoplay; encrypted-media; gyroscope; picture-in-picture" allowfullscreen></iframe> </div> <p>Let’s get started by learning the first exercise: The Hollow Position.</p> </section> <hr class="divider-50 divider-medium mx-auto"> <section> <header>The Hollow Position</header> <p>This movement is part of a series of exercises that gymnasts use in order to improve their strength and flexibility. The Hollow Position is going to address the first cause of back pain: a weak core. </p> <p>Here’s how to do the Hollow Position:</p> <ol> <li>Start by lying down on your back with your knees bent at around a 45-degree angle.</li> <picture class="lazy-load"> <source data-srcset="" type="image/webp"> <source data-srcset="" type="image/jpf"> <source data-srcset=""> <img src="" class="img-fluid" alt="tyler-sit-up-up-back-pain-0078"> </picture> <li>Press your lower back fully into the ground so that you can’t fit your hand underneath your spine. To do this, you’ll need to tilt your hips forward.</li> <picture class="lazy-load"> <source data-srcset="" type="image/webp"> <source data-srcset="" type="image/jpf"> <source data-srcset=""> <img src="" class="img-fluid" alt="tyler-sit-up-directive-back-pain-0078"> </picture> <li>Lift your feet off the ground so your legs are parallel to the floor and your knees are at a 90-degree angle. At the same time, put your arms straight up in front of you.</li> <picture class="lazy-load"> <source data-srcset="" type="image/webp"> <source data-srcset="" type="image/jpf"> <source data-srcset=""> <img src="" class="img-fluid" alt="tyler-hands-and-knees-up-back-pain-0078"> </picture> <li>Slowly lift your arms up over your head while you extend your legs straight out in front of you. Your lower back should stay on the floor the whole time, so if you feel it lifting up, stop and reset. Ultimately, you want to be able to fully extend your body and hold it in the position pictured below.</li> <picture class="lazy-load"> <source data-srcset="" type="image/webp"> <source data-srcset="" type="image/jpf"> <source data-srcset=""> <img src="" class="img-fluid" alt="tyler-arms-legs-stretched-directives-back-pain-0078"> </picture> <li>Once you’re extended as far as you can go without lifting your back off the floor then return to the starting position and repeat.</li> </ol> <p>The key to making this movement work for you is doing it every day. We suggest performing this movement for about three minutes when you wake up each morning and three minutes before you go to bed at night. Over time, you’ll be able to increase your core strength, range of motion, and flexibility, all of which are key for alleviating and preventing back pain.</p> </section> <hr class="divider-50 divider-medium mx-auto"> <section> <header>Did you know?</header> <p>There are a lot of different things that can cause back pain, some you might not even be aware of. Aside from underlying diseases, the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke lists<sup>4</sup> age, fitness level, pregnancy, weight gain, genetics, occupational risk factors, and even mental health concerns including anxiety and depression as common causes of lower back pain.</p> <p>Most people tend to start having issues with back pain between the ages of thirty and fifty, and that pain can escalate with increasing age, particularly as illnesses such as osteoporosis and arthritis start to take hold. In some, though not all, cases, experiencing weight gain can add extra stress on your spine that again can cause pain. Plus, performing either sedentary labor such as a desk job or manual labor that requires standing for long periods or heavy lifting can cause and ultimately aggravate back pain.</p> <p>It’s also important to note that folks who jump into exercise after long periods of inactivity are much more likely to experience back pain and injury than those who work out consistently and take it slowly when they’re easing their way back into exercise. That’s exactly why performing these two exercises on a daily basis is so crucial for alleviating and preventing back pain.</p> <p>Now that we’ve learned a little more about the causes of back pain, let’s move on to the next exercise: the Couch-Assisted Squat.</p> </section> <hr class="divider-50 divider-medium mx-auto"> <section> <header>Couch-Assisted Squat</header> <p>Squats are a great way to strengthen the muscles that support your hips while improving flexibility. However, doing a full squat can be challenging if you’re experiencing pain or if you’re just getting into exercising. That’s why we’re offering this modification in which you’ll use your own couch to support you as you perform the squatting movement. Seriously, this exercise is so simple, incredibly effective, and can be done right in your very own living room.</p> <p>This move is going to loosen up your sacroiliac (SI) joint and strengthen the muscles around your hips so that once you stand up, your pelvis and your spine will be in a much better alignment. You should notice a reduction in pain immediately after doing this exercise.</p> </p>Here’s how to do the perfect Couch-Assisted Squat:</p> <ol> <li>Sit on the edge of your couch with your knees slightly outside of hip width and your toes pointed outward.</li> <picture class="lazy-load"> <source data-srcset="" type="image/webp"> <source data-srcset="" type="image/jpf"> <source data-srcset=""> <img src="" class="img-fluid" alt="tyler-sitting-hands-down-back-pain-0078"> </picture> <li>Place your hands on the couch on either side of your hips. Your hands are going to support you as you do the squat.</li> <li>Lift up off the couch and drop down into a squat as far as you comfortably can. Your back can be touching the couch if that’s more comfortable.</li> <li>While you’re in the squat, gently shift your hips from side to side to ease into the bottom of the squat.</li> <picture class="lazy-load"> <source data-srcset="" type="image/webp"> <source data-srcset="" type="image/jpf"> <source data-srcset=""> <img src="" class="img-fluid" alt="tyler-squat-directives-back-pain-0078"> </picture> <li>Hold the position for three minutes.</li> </ol> <p>When you’re just getting started, only hold the position that feels most comfortable, even if that means you’re still seated on the edge of the couch. Ultimately, you’re trying to work your way up to holding that squat position unassisted, driving your knees out over your toes, and opening up your hip cavity. It’s all about progression, so take your time and don’t push yourself too hard.</p> <picture class="lazy-load"> <source data-srcset="" type="image/webp"> <source data-srcset="" type="image/jpf"> <source data-srcset=""> <img src="" class="img-fluid" alt="tyler-squatting-back-pain-0078"> </picture> <p>Just like with the Hollow Position, you want to perform this exercise every day. Set a timer for three minutes and do the best you can to hold the squat position.</p> </section> <hr class="divider-50 divider-medium mx-auto"> <section> <header>Conclusion</header> <p>There are plenty of different causes of back pain and just about as many different opinions on how to treat it. What we’ve offered here are two simple and effective exercises that are going to treat the main things that are probably causing your back pain: a weak core and tight hips.</p> <p>In order to get the greatest benefit from these two moves, it’s crucial that you do them every single day. Take three minutes when you wake up and three minutes before you go to bed to perform the Hollow Position, pushing yourself to stretch farther with each passing week. </p> <p>At some point during the day, take another three minutes to try out the Couch-Assisted Squat. This move was designed with ease and simplicity in mind; you can do it from the comfort of your own home with no equipment necessary. Take a few minutes out from watching TV or reading a book and do the Couch-Assisted Squat. </p> <p>Back pain is no fun, but with the exercises we’ve suggested here, you can not only alleviate pain that you might currently have, but also buffer yourself from experiencing further injuries in the future. These moves are so simple, so effective, and require nothing more than a couch and a little bit of floor space.</p> <p>So take our advice, and get started on your path to a pain-free back today!</p> <div class="sub-head">Resources</div> <ol> <li><a target="_blank" href="" rel="noreferrer">Why patients visit their doctors</a></li> <li><a target="_blank" href="" rel="noreferrer">Back Pain Facts and Statistics</a></li> <li><a target="_blank" href="" rel="noreferrer">Comparison of Physician’s Advice</a></li> <li><a target="_blank" href="" rel="noreferrer">Low Back Pain Fact Sheet</a></li> </ol> </section> </article>

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