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15 Simple but Powerful Back Exercises to Ease Stiffness and Lower Back Pain

15 Simple but Powerful Back Exercises to Ease Stiffness and Lower Back Pain

Almost every single person on this planet has experienced some sort of back pain, whether it be in their lower, middle, or upper back. I can tell you those who have had it bad will bear witness to the horrific pain that can come with any kind of back pain. Some might become so desperate that they’ll resort to options such as surgery. Ouch!

But what if I can help you without doing something so drastic? What if you found that back exercises or stretching might be the one thing that actually helped?

Read over this list of fifteen exercises that will help ease your back pain.

1. Inversion Table

inversiontable2

    Inversion tables are an excellent piece of equipment that will help stretch your back to a different kind of level. They use the pull of gravity to assist in stretching your spine. If you are experiencing any kind of back pain, an investment in one of these might be your answer.

    2. Cobra Stretch

    cobrastretch

      Cobra stretches can be performed anywhere you feel comfortable and that has plenty of floor space. Cobra stretches have relieved many people’s back pains and continue to help those who are looking for relief. Always make sure you keep your feet together and go as high as possible with your shoulders.

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      3. Lower Back Twist

      lowerbacktwist

        Lower back twists are an easy stretch to perform. These twists help with stretching your Gluteus Maximus muscles as well as your lower back. When performing this stretch, make sure to not lift both shoulders off the floor while you are bringing one of your legs across your body onto the other side.

        4. Lying Lower Back Stretch

        lyinglowerbackstretch

          The lying lower back stretch is a great stretch for this area of your back. Use your hands to pull your knees in and up to your chest. Don’t worry if your lower back comes off the floor. Hold your position at the top for a good 15 to 30 seconds, then release.

          5. Fitness Ball Wrap

          fitnessballwrap2

            Using a large fitness ball, you will be performing the fitness ball wrap. This stretches your back the other way and you will soon discover how effective it is and how much relief it gives you! Stay as long as you feel like while your body wraps around the top of the fitness ball.

            6. Lying Static Leg Raise

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            lyinglegraise

              The lying static leg raise helps with the lower back by placing more pressure on the back from a vertical standpoint. You will find this to be very comfortable and relieving. If you’ve had a tough day at work and your back is aching a bit, have yourself do the lying static leg raise for 15 to 20 minutes.

              7. Hyperextension Machine Stretch

              hyperextmachinestretch

                This stretch is very similar to the large fitness ball wrap. Instead, however, you will be using a hyperextension machine that can be found at your local gym. Get on one and slowly lower yourself until you feel a full stretch in your lower back. Stay locked in this position for 15 to 30 seconds.

                8. Glute Stretch

                glutestretch

                  When you pull your foot underneath the knee of your other leg, you can then start pulling both legs towards your chest. This will help give you a greater stretch in your glutes area and your lower back. Hold this position for fifteen to thirty seconds, then release.

                  9. Deadlifts

                  Deadlift

                    Deadlifts are an excellent exercise to use for strengthening your lower back and many more other muscles. However, if you’re already experiencing lower back pain, I advise you to go light with these exercises so as to not aggravate your lower back. Keep your back straight at all times throughout the whole movement.

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                    10. Ab and Rope Crunches

                    cablecrunch

                      Sometimes, lower back pain may be caused by muscle imbalances in the core area. This type of lower back pain may be relieved by strengthening weak abdominals, which serves to counteract the strong muscles in the back. Crunches and rope crunches are some of the best exercises to strengthen the core and help start supporting your lower back.

                      11. Hyperextension on the Fitness Ball

                      1010-back-extension

                        If you don’t have a gym membership and you’d prefer doing this stretch at home, grab a large fitness ball and lay on your stomach. Start by placing both hands behind your head and lowering your shoulders. Stop once you feel a full stretch and then engage your lower back, bringing yourself back up again. You can use this stretch as a back exercise as well by doing more repetitions.

                        12. Hyperextension Exercise

                        hyperextensions

                          An excellent lower back exercise, this exercise alone can help you create a stronger lower back. If you have a weak back, I advise you start performing this exercise right away. Just like the hyperextension on the large fitness ball, you will be going down until you feel a full stretch. You may increase the intensity by holding a dumbbell in your hands.

                          13. Pelvic Thrust

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                          Pelvic-Thrust-2

                            Start by having your entire back flat on the floor. Bend your legs and have your feet come in next to your hamstrings. Push up with your legs and thrust your pelvis out. To increase the intensity of this exercise, place and hold some weight on top of your thighs.

                            14. Less Sitting and More Breaks

                            lesssitting

                              Sometimes prevention is the key and this can certainly apply to lower back pain. Many people’s lower back pain can be traced all the way to the amount of sitting they do each day. According to U.S. News, 86 percent of Americans sit for 13 hours a day. That’s a lot of sitting, and if by chance you are going to sit for that long, I urge you to take as many breaks as possible from it.

                              15. Helpful Back Belts

                              back_pain_belt

                                I can’t lie, belts have been a strong factor in relieving my lower back pain. If you’re into fitness, sit down a lot, or have a physical job, I advise you to look into a belt that may help relieve the tension on your lower back. Support it and it will support you back.

                                Your Three-Step Plan to a Better Lower Back

                                1. Before beginning any exercise regimen or trying out a new string of stretches, please book an appointment with your chiropractor or doctor first. It is very important that you be looked at by a professional and have them explain to you the proper procedure in doing each back exercise or stretch. You don’t want to injure yourself even further because that may only cause more pain in your lower back.

                                2. Pick two or three points in this article and stick to them only. The last thing you want to do is try to perform each exercise or stretch and do each one of them poorly. Remember, each exercise or stretch takes time to master, as well as a lot of practice. After becoming good at a set of three things, gradually add more if needed.

                                3. It’s not about more. It’s about how much is needed. Just because you have lower back pain doesn’t mean you have to do a huge amount of stretches and exercises for it. That can do more damage than good and it can become counterproductive. Many times your back is already stressed and causing more stress to it by performing stretches and exercises can never be good. Give yourself a break, stop doing what you know that’s causing your lower back to ache, and prevent bad habits causing it to ache in the first place.

                                Featured photo credit: John Carleton via flickr.com

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                                Last Updated on September 10, 2019

                                7 Morning Rituals to Empower Your Day And Change Your Life

                                7 Morning Rituals to Empower Your Day And Change Your Life

                                Most of your reality is not a given. It is shaped by your expectations, beliefs and thoughts you have formed about it. A big chunk of these beliefs and expectations are encoded into habits you integrate in your daily life.

                                Yes, some of these habits are formed unconsciously and can be counter-productive or limiting but conversely, you can consciously form positive habits that will transform and empower your life significantly.

                                This is a powerful point of departure that more and more people are becoming aware of. The most common trait of highly successful people is the recognition of the power they have in co-creating their reality through changing the way they think, believe or expect their reality to be.

                                One of the most effective ways of changing our belief patterns is through practising and maintaining daily rituals. Ancient traditions had clearly understood the power of rituals in reinforcing habits and changing the way we see and create our reality a long, long time ago.

                                Once again, if you look into the life history of any highly successful individual, you will find some form of ritual in their daily routine. Some of these rituals may seem banal or eccentric but don’t be deceived by appearances. Rituals are one of the most effective self-empowering tools freely available at the practitioner’s disposal – that is, you!

                                Below are some the easiest yet life-changing morning rituals you can do every day. Of course, you can have your own afternoon or bed-time rituals but morning rituals are extremely effective in empowering your day since they help you charge yourself before it all starts.

                                1. Gratitude

                                Feeling gratitude and appreciation for those little signs and moments of joy happening in your life is probably one of the most overlooked or underestimated rituals. It is a perfect morning ritual to start your day on a very positive key.

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                                The real power of gratitude is that it makes you pick out and focus on what is working in your life – what is in tune with your being as a whole. It is selectively positive. It reinforces happiness and positivity by shedding light on those awesome things, small or big, that grace your everyday living.

                                Quite often, we just pick out the pain points, the problems, the bottle necks, whatever it is that is not working in our life and causing friction, anxiety and unhappiness. This is like constantly rewriting the script of your life with a negative or tragic overtone. Your subconscious mind follows faithfully that script you write whether it is a negative or positive one.

                                So feeling gratitude is undoubtedly an immensely empowering ritual. Start your day by being thankful for those positive things that happened the previous day or throughout the week. It could be something really petty and small. It doesn’t matter. You might be grateful for an unexpected visit from an old friend, a beautiful encounter with a kind stranger, a new opportunity or whatever it is that shines your way. Do it every morning and see what happens during the day.

                                Gratitude-Quotes

                                  2. Writing Down Your Most Important Tasks

                                  This is a very practical ritual. Start your day by identifying and writing down from one to three of the most important tasks you need to complete during that day. These tasks are ones which support important long term goals that are aligned to your purpose, passion or general direction in life.

                                  For example, if writing a book or building an online community are important long term goals which are aligned to your personal growth, then an important task for the day might be finishing off a particular page or two of the book or coming up with fresh content ideas for the online community.

                                  What is important with this ritual is that you identify these tasks and complete them as early in the day as possible. Of course, you will have other tasks apart from the ones you will write down but, these are tasks which can be tackled later or batched up and carried out in one go.

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                                  Writing down your most important tasks in the morning helps you focus your day and life according to what is essential. It helps you prioritize and manage your time better. As a result, you simplify your life by applying your focus and energy on what really counts for your overall life progress.

                                  3. Affirm Your Goals in Writing or Drawing

                                  This is similar to the previous idea but different in its application and purpose. Writing down your most important tasks of the day is a way to have a concrete structure of action to follow. Affirming your goals, on the other hand, is a very powerful way of crystallizing your vision and goals in life into your everyday mental space.

                                  Writing down or doodling your goals on a piece of paper helps you externalize those goals by giving them form. In return, they are reflected back in your subconscious mind and thus, reinforcing them and integrating them more wholly.

                                  An example of this would be writing down “I am achieving greater success in my career” or “I am becoming healthier and stronger through my exercise.” Notice the present tense being used as a way to tell yourself you are in the process already. Remember the life script we subconsciously follow? You are basically modifying the script to be applied now in the present.

                                  Drawing or doodling can be equally, or even more, effective  (if you are more of a visual person) as it summarizes a graphical representation of your goals. For example, if your goal is to build a new house or live in another country, you can draw the house or draw things that symbolise the country you want to live in.

                                  write down goals

                                    4. Practice Qi Gong Exercises

                                    According to Chinese philosophy, Qi (pronounced ‘Chee’) means the life force or energy inherent in all things;[1] and Qi Gong is the practice to cultivate and circulate that energy in your body. This may sound esoteric or complicated but actually, Qi Gong is really a set of simple exercises aimed at increasing your health and vitality.

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                                    There are numerous forms and practices available for free through the online media. As a morning ritual, I recommend following these simple exercises by Qi Gong master Lee Holden:

                                    5. Drink Hot Water with Lemon

                                    Simply add a slice of lemon in a glass of hot water and drink one every morning. This is a very simple ritual I follow faithfully every morning.

                                    Apart from being a good source of vitamin C and a great way of flushing out toxins in the morning, it balances and maintains the PH levels in the body, reduces pain and inflammation in joints and knees and helps nourishing brain and nerve cells. Here are some more benefits of drinking hot water with lemon.

                                    6. Rise Earlier

                                    The practical advantages of waking up early are obvious.

                                    For example, you gain more time for doing exercise such as walking, cycling or Qi Gong as suggested above. You gain more time to be with yourself to reflect, meditate or, more importantly, carry out the other morning rituals.

                                    So rising early can be seen as a foundation for all the other morning rituals. Many, like myself, find that they are more productive in the early hours of the day.

                                    Also, various studies have shown that there are many other benefits from waking up an hour or two earlier in the morning. Sleeping early and waking up early helps the body attune with the earth’s circadian rhythms thus, promoting more restorative sleep. Other curious results from such studies show, for instance, that early risers tend to be more optimistic and can anticipate and solve problems more efficiently than the norm.[2]

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                                    7. Listen to Uplifting Music

                                    Uplifting music can have a direct impact on our mood, especially in the morning. It charges us emotionally and tunes us into a more positive outlook of the day ahead.

                                    Most people wake up to music or listen to music as they commute to work. Very often, however, they tune in to a radio or randomly pick a playlist from their device. Being more selective and conscious of the music you listen to in the morning can have a great impact on your day and life in general.

                                    It’s funny how we try to choose music according to our mood. For example if you are feeling down or disappointed by something, you are more prone to listen to music that reflects that mood – for instance blues, sad songs or downtempo music. This has the effect of reinforcing that mood. What you need to do is the exact opposite and retune your mood by listening to music that beats to a different tune than that mood.

                                    Try to listen to more uplifting music in the morning even if, or especially if, your mood does not dictate so.

                                    More About Energetic Habits & Rituals

                                    Featured photo credit: Carli Jeen via unsplash.com

                                    Reference

                                    [1] Live Science: What Is Qi Gong
                                    [2] Harvard Business Review: Defend Your Research: The Early Bird Really Does Get the Worm

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