Tips To Help Strengthen Your Back
Keeping your back strong is one of the best ways to avoid lower back pain in the future. Odd though it may seem, the best way to do this is with regular exercise. It might sound crazy, especially if you think your back pain has been caused by bending too often in the garden or overdoing it at the gym, but regular exercise can strengthen the muscles that protect your spine and help to support it.
Choosing the right exercise
Not every type of exercise is right for the back, but choosing the right ones can strengthen the muscles and reduce any back pain you already have, as well as increase flexibility. There are three types you should consider for an all round approach to back care:
- Aerobic activities. These build muscle strength and endurance, as well as improve your overall fitness. It’s important, however, to choose activities that won’t damage your back, so stick with more gentle options, like swimming or walking.
- Strengthening your ‘core’ muscles. Certain types of exercises, including Pilates and yoga, help to strengthen the body’s core muscles around the stomach and hip area, back and leg. These muscles protect the spine. Keeping them strong helps to stabilise them and prevent injury.
- Stretching exercises. There are many stretching exercises designed to improve your back’s flexibility. Stretch slowly, avoiding any unexpected movements and don’t push your body further than you can comfortably go.
In addition there are a number of specific back strengthening exercises that you can do. For some examples of back strengthening exercises read the exercise articles on Cobra and Knee to Chest Stretch.
Before starting any back exercises, speak to your doctor or physiotherapist for advise.
How much is enough?
It might be difficult to exercise at first if you’re trying to cope with back pain, so you may want to start with gentle aerobic exercises, to get you active without putting your back under any strain or pressure.
Gradually, you can add in core strengthening and back stretching exercises, but always take care not to overdo it and stop immediately if you feel any pain. At first, with the stretching exercises you may only be able to hold the stretch for a couple of seconds, repeating the stretch a couple of times. You can gradually increase the hold to five seconds and repeat up to five times.
Exercising to strengthen your back can help to prevent future back pain attacks – just 15 minutes of back exercises a day, two to three times a week can be enough to help improve your back strength.
Getting your back ‘back on track’ can take time, and you need to take extra care to avoid further damage. For more information on this, read the article Tips for Managing Lower Back Pain.