If you are reading this, chances are you have back pain. It may be radiating pressure in your lumbar spine, or a tight ache between the shoulders. Every movement pulls at the source of the pain and doesn’t let you forget about it for a moment.
In the modern age, back pain is usually related to either sedentary lifestyle or overuse of muscle groups. Office workers, nurses, cleaners, labourers, Netflix addicts – nearly all of us are part of a society in which back pain is a side effect of our lifestyles. By adopting a stationary posture or repeating an action over long periods of time, such as the work day, for years, then the causal relationship between lifestyle and our musculoskeletal health becomes clear.
The good news is that every single person has what it takes to regain our back health. We have compiled some simple, effective exercises to become the back bone of your work-out. Follow this routine if you understand how important it is to prevent injury in the first place. For those experiencing mild to moderate back pain it is important to keep participating in light action, even though it hurts. You can do this too, however we recommend a prior a consultation with your doctor.
Here’s our pick of the best exercise for back health, in less than 15 minutes a day:
1. The Wall Angel
This exercise is based on the snow angel with the object to keep your body attached to the wall like a fridge-magnet. Stand up against the wall so that your heels are around 10cm away. Your back and head should be making contact however there should be a slight gap between the wall and your body at the curve in your spine. Now, inhale and use your core to close that gap. Staying in position, place your arms against the wall in a “surrender” posture. Take a deep breath and as you exhale, slowly raise your arms to a “help” posture. Repeat about 8 times.
The wall angel is a great, easy-to-do exercise that will improve the strength of your lumbar spine as well as the muscles that support your back – the core and upper thighs. If your right side hurts, just lift the left arm and vice-versa. Adapt the exercise to suit your body. Watch a demonstration of the wall angel on the clip below.
2. The woodpecker
The Woodpecker is another favourite exercise that uses your own body weight and resistance to build strength and flexibility. To get into the lunge position start with your feet hip width apart and take a big step forward. Remember to keep your knees in line with your toes. Lift your arms out straight in front of you for balance, and at the same time push your bottom further back until you feel a pull in your hamstrings. At all times keep your tummy pulled in to keep both balance and core strong.
If you want to take the exercise a step further, reach your arms over your head. Hold the posture for about 20 seconds and build up time as you get stronger. Don’t forget to change sides.
3. Cat and Dog
Anyone familiar with yoga or aerobics classes will have come across the cat and dog poses at some point, popular for their simplicity and effectiveness at relieving tension. The trick is to move with your breath for maximum benefit.
Get onto your hands and knees with your knees and hands shoulder width apart, and simply breathe deeply. Once you are attuned to the rhythm of your breath exhale deeply and arch your back into a cat pose. Your head should be resting between your shoulders and pelvis will come inwards. Hold for a moment and inhale. Assume the position of a dog by bringing your head up and tilting the pelvis outwards – watch your spine naturally come into a reverse-arch position.
If you follow this simple routine for ten minutes each morning, you will be setting yourself up for a long and healthy future where immobility and back pain will not be part of your day.
News.com.au – Tim Robards: the exercise that could change your life
Yahoo Health – Five simple moves to eliminate low back pain for good
Mayo Health – Slideshow: back exercises in 15 minutes a day