If you suffer from back pain, exercise might seem like the last thing you want to do. After all, how can you work out with a bad back? But with the right moves and proper form, exercise can make your back stronger and more flexible, which can reduce back pain. Here are seven moves to try if you have a bad back.
Disclaimer: Talk to your doctor before starting any exercise routine. They may also recommend seeing a physical therapist, who can work with you on specific exercises that target the pain you’re experiencing.
Start on your hands and knees. (Use a padded exercise mat to reduce pressure on your knees.) Keep your shoulders over your wrists, hips over knees with your back flat. As you inhale, raise the crown of your head and tailbone toward the ceiling. Let your belly drop toward the floor (cow pose). As you exhale, reverse the motion: Tuck your chin toward your chest and draw your belly button in toward your spine (cat pose).
Stay on all fours. Keep your back in a straight line from your shoulders to your hips. Press into your right knee and left palm. Lift your left knee off the floor and straighten your leg behind you. Lift your right hand off the floor and reach your right arm in front of you. Lengthen through your right fingertips, back and left foot. Return your palm and knee to the floor. Repeat on the other side.
Stay on all fours. Lower your hips toward your heels, keeping your arms stretched out in front of you. If you can’t reach your heels, place a bolster or pillow between your thighs and calves. Try to relax into the pose, releasing tension in your neck and back. As you inhale, feel your back expand. Stay in this pose for several breaths.
Lie on your back and bend your legs, bringing your feet underneath your knees. Let your arms rest by your sides. As you inhale, tighten your belly and lift your hips and torso off the ground. As you exhale, lower your hips back to the ground. Repeat 10 times.
Lie on your back with your legs bent at your knees. Bring your right knee in toward your chest, holding your right thigh, until you feel a comfortable stretch in your lower back. If you’d like a deeper stretch, extend your left leg out on the floor. Hold for several breaths and then release your leg. Repeat on the other side.
Lying down, bring both knees in toward your chest. Hold on to the backs of your thighs. Gently rock from side to side, massaging your back.
Keeping your knees bent, back on the floor, cross your left leg over your right. Scoot your hips a few inches to the left. Slowly let your knees drop toward the right, stopping when you feel a gentle stretch. Stay for 3 breaths. Return your hips to center. Uncross your legs and repeat on the other side.