Three Ways to Strengthen your Spine
31 March 2015
Dealing with spine and back pain can cause stiffness, limited range of motion, and in severe cases, prevent you from performing your daily activities. Fortunately, there are many ways to reduce back pain by strengthening your spine through various stretches and exercises. Find out more about these simple, yet effective methods.
Low-Impact Aerobic Exercises
Low-impact aerobic exercises increase blood flow and nutrients to the back which promotes healing and reduces stiffness in joints. The key is to get your heart rate up and keep it elevated for at least twenty minutes, without adding stress on the spine. These exercises aren’t jarring to the spine and encourage an increased range of motion while also relieving pain. They’ll also allow you to perform daily activities more comfortably.
- Stationary biking
- Elliptical or step machine
Your back consists of the spinal column, muscles, ligaments, and tendons that are all designed to be limber and work together cohesively to allow your body to move. It’s important that none of these parts are inhibited so that each one can work together and perform their job effectively. It may take a few weeks or months before your spine and tissues start benefitting from your stretching routine, but range of motion will eventually be improved. Consider the following tips when starting your stretching program to improve the health of your spine.
- Sitting Rotation Stretch – Sit on the floor with legs outstretched, then cross one leg over the other. Twist toward the bent leg, placing your hand on the floor behind you while the other arm is on the side of your bent leg. Use this arm to stretch further and look over your shoulder. Hold this stretch for 30 seconds, and then repeat on the opposite side.
- Sit Side Saddle – Sit on the floor with your legs outstretched, then bend one leg so that the bottom of your foot is resting against the inside of your opposite thigh. Bend your hips forward and reach for the foot of the outstretched leg. If you can’t reach your foot, place your hands as far down on your leg as you can. Hold this stretch for 30 seconds then switch legs.
Back Strengthening Exercises
A physical therapist can help you perform specialized exercises and correct your form to ensure that pain relief is achieved. The following are the two most common back strengthening exercises.
- Dynamic Lumbar Stabilization Exercises – Your therapist will work with you to find your neutral spine, which means the position that your spine is most comfortable in. Then, he or she will help your back muscles perform exercise techniques that will allow your spine to stay in this comfortable position. After several weeks, your spine will feel more comfortable and pain will be greatly reduced.
- McKenzie Exercises – There are many different forms of McKenzie exercises, but the theory behind them is that extending the spine with exercise will reduce pain caused by limited disc space. Arm motions are used to extend the spine. Some of these exercises are performed standing up, while others are performed lying down.
For more information about treating pain and injury to the spine and back, download our e-book, The Patient’s Manual to Spine and Back Surgery. This educational guide will provide you with all you need to know about dealing with back pain.