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Back Pain Relief Exercises

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Back pain relief can be achieved by following these simple exercises. These exercises aim to re-hydrate the intervertebral discs and facilitate your core strength. The intervertebral discs are cartilaginous structures in between the vertebra in the spine. Their function is actually quite complicated but you can think of them as “spacers” that also serve to absorb shock transmitted through the spine.

Essentially, from the time we arise in the morning, to the time we return to bed at night, we lose fluid from the discs. The discs do not have a blood supply and so can only get nourishment via osmosis. This means the discs are reliant on movement throughout the body which pushes fluid back into the discs.

If your job finds you sitting for long periods or maintaining one posture for a long time (eg. counter operators), your spine succumbs to the compressive forces of the weight of your torso, and gravity in general. When this happens, your discs decrease in height as fluid leaks out of the discs. In turn, the joints between successive vertebra, specifically the facet joints, jam up against each other causing pain.

These exercises will suit the majority of people but it is best to see a health practitioner immediately if you have incurred back pain. There may be some factor specific to your condition that renders some of these exercises unsafe for you. Having said this, the overwhelming majority of people find back pain relief in performing these exercises.

Below, you will find 11 back pain relief exercises complete with pictures and explanations. It is not necessary to perform all of these in one go. In fact, depending on your condition, it may be best to perform this sequence of back pain relief exercises.

Pelvic wiggling

Lie face down on the ground for 1-3 minutes allowing yourself to get comfortable. Then, wiggle your pelvis from left to right fairly quickly. This activates a core muscle (multifidus) which is often under active in most back pain sufferers. Do this for 30 seconds.

Lying in extension

Lie face down in the extended position for 3 minutes. You can do 3 minutes at a time or 3 sets of 1 minute. Keep your hips against the floor at all time, do not allow your pelvis to lift off.

Lazy push-ups

As above but with momentum. Start lying face down, then using your arms, push your upper body only into the lazy push-up position. Do about 3 sets of 12 repetitions.

Pelvic rocking

Lie on your back with your knees bent, feet on the floor. In this position note that your lower back is somewhat raised, or arched, off the floor. Flatten your back against the floor (push fairly hard) and then relax. Do this fairly quickly for about 30 seconds, aim for 30 repetitions.

Knees rocking

Lie on your back, and bring the knees perpendicular to the floor. Cross the ankles and allow the knees to relax outwards. Hold your knees with your hands and pull them towards you repetitively for about 30 seconds in a pumping action. Pull gently to affect the lower lumbar vertebra and a little harder to focus on the upper lumbar vertebra. Expect to feel slight but tolerable pain.

Reverse curl

As above but without the use of your arms. Use your lower abdominal muscles to curl your lower body towards your chest. Expect this action to be a little more painful than the above exercise. Do not allow the knees to relax past the point perpendicular to the floor. Repeat 15 times.

Back block

Lie on your back with the knees bent. Lift your bottom and slide a block (phone book) under the sacrum (the hard flat bone at the base of your spine). Straighten out one leg at a time until both legs are relaxed. Hold this position for 60 seconds expecting some initial discomfort as your body adapts to the position. Read more about how to use the back block.

Child’s pose

This is a yoga posture which amongst other structures, will stretch out your low back. Assume the child’s pose and hold anywhere from 30 seconds onwards. You may also feel tightness in the front of your ankles and hips. Be patient with this posture, it may take time to understand it “practice makes perfect.”

Floor lunge

Another posture derived from yoga, this stretch aims to loosen the hip capsule and associated muscles, intricately connected to the low back. Lie on all fours, bringing your right knee towards your right hand. Place your right foot in front of your left hip so that your foot rests in front of your groin as you straighten your left leg by moving backwards along the floor. Sink your body down onto the right foot trapped under your left groin. Try to keep your body low and straight along the floor and resist the temptation to roll off the trapped leg. Maintain the position for 30 seconds, perform each side.


Place your heels and toes together, then drop your bottom to the floor whilst holding a secure rail to keep your body secure. Part your knees wide, letting your head drop through towards the floor. Bounce in this position attempting to get your bottom closer to the floor. Do this for 30 seconds at a time.

Forward bending

Do this randomly throughout the day. Bend forward slowly keeping your knees bent, allowing your low back to round as much as possible. Then, pull your tummy in, and roll upwards, vertebra by vertebra.

The theme of these exercises is “to give the discs a drink”. The resultant pressure changes during these exercises stimulates disc cell metabolism and the synthesis of proteoglycans ” the protein building blocks of discs. Perform them regularly, and your back will thank you.

*DISCLAIMER: This discussion does not provide medical advice. The
information, including but not limited to, text, graphics, images and
other material contained in this discussion are for informational
purposes only. The purpose of this discussion is to promote broad
consumer understanding and knowledge of various health topics. It is not
intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis
or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other
qualified health care provider with any questions you may have regarding
a medical condition or treatment and before undertaking a new health
care regimen, and never disregard professional medical advice or delay
in seeking it because of something you have read in this blog.

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