Exercises for back pain
Exercises for slipped disc and low back pain come in many forms, but the specific treatment will depend on the underlying cause. In general, back pain can result from muscle sprains and strains, bone degeneration, and nerve irritation and injuries. More specific causes of back pain include fractures, spinal stenosis, disc herniation, spondylolithesis, infection, cancer.
Goal of exercises
The back is supported by muscles, bones of the spine, and the disc. The goal of back exercises is to strengthen the core muscles. This offloads the spine and the disc, reducing wear and tear and the rate of degeneration. It is important to listen to your body and pace yourself. Some discomfort may be normal, and will usually improve as you become more flexible. However, doing the exercises wrongly or at the wrong pace can result in injury. When in doubt, do speak to a healthcare professional.
Here we focus on 2 exercises to strengthen the core muscles that control bending forward and backward.
Exercises for slipped disc #1: The Superman
The back muscles run next to the spinal column. They are responsible for helping you maintain posture whether you are sitting or standing. Back muscles supports the spine, disc and pelvis. When back muscles contracts, the back is extended into an arch. Strengthening this muscle helps reduce pain when bending forward and backward.
A good exercise to train up the back muscles is to do a ‘superman’. This also trains up the shoulders, neck and pelvic muscles.
- Lie facedown on your stomach on a soft mat. The mat shouldn’t be too thick. Extend your arms forward, making your body as long as possible.
- Take a deep breath, and as you fully exhale, arch your back, lifting hands and feet off the ground. How far you lift depends on how flexible you are. On average it should be around 12-15cm.
- Keep looking down at the floor and not in front to prevent overextending your neck.
- Keep it there for at least 2 seconds.
- Do this about 10 times in a row. Then a rest of about 5 min and then repeat. Do this at least twice a day.
Exercises for slipped disc #2: Modified Crunches
The transversus abdominis is the muscle that wraps around your lower chest and abdomen. It is like a corset, and helps to support the spinal column. Doing this exercise together with the ‘Superman’ will help reduce back pain when bending forward or backward.
- Lie flat on your back and spread your feet shoulder width apart; alternatively you can use an exercise ball
- Arms are by the side, you can bend your knee
- Inhale deeply
- Then breathe out and make your tummy as flat as possible while also lifting your head 2cm above the mat.
- Hold the position for 5 seconds.
- Repeat 10 times about twice a day for the best results