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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 July 10, 2020

                                How to Take Control of Your Life with Better Boundaries

                                How to Take Control of Your Life with Better Boundaries

                                We all have them—those hurtful, frustrating, offensive, manipulative people in our lives. No matter how hard we try to surround ourselves with positive and kind people, there will always be those who will disrespect, insult, berate, and misuse you if we allow them to.

                                We may, for a variety of reasons, not be able to avoid them, but we can determine how we interact with them and how we allow them to interact with us.

                                So, how to take control of your life and stop being pushed around?

                                Learning to set clear firm boundaries with the people in our lives at work and in our personal lives is the best way to protect ourselves from the negative effects of this kind of behavior.

                                What Boundaries Are (And What They’re Not)

                                Boundaries are limits

                                —they are not threats or ultimatums. Boundaries inform or teach. They are not a form of punishment.

                                Boundaries are firm lines—determined by you—which cannot be crossed by those around you. They are guidelines for how you will allow others to treat you and what kind of behaviors you will expect.

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                                Healthy personal boundaries help protect you from physical or emotional pain. You may also need to set firm boundaries at work to ensure you and your time are not disrespected. Don’t allow others to take advantage of your kindness and generosity.

                                Clear boundaries communicate to others that you demand respect and consideration—that you are willing to stand up for yourself and that you will not be a doormat for anyone. They are a “no trespassing” sign that makes it very clear when a line has been crossed and that there will be consequences for doing so.

                                Boundaries are not set with the intention of changing other people. They may change how people interact with you, but they are more about enforcing your needs than attempting to change the general behavior and attitude of others.

                                How to Establish Boundaries and Take Control of Your Life

                                Here are some ways that you can establish boundaries and take control of your life.

                                1. Self-Awareness Comes First

                                Before you can establish boundaries with others, you first need to understand what your needs are.

                                You are entitled to respect. You have the right to protect yourself from inappropriate or offensive behavior. Setting boundaries is a way of honoring your needs.

                                To set appropriate boundaries, you need to be clear about what healthy behaviors look like—what healthy relationships look like.

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                                You first have to become more aware of your feelings and honest with yourself about your expectations and what you feel is appropriate behavior:

                                • Where do you need to establish better boundaries?
                                • When do you feel disrespected?
                                • When do you feel violated, frustrated, or angered by the behavior of others?
                                • In what situations do you feel you are being mistreated or taken advantage of?
                                • When do you want to be alone?
                                • How much space do you need?

                                You need to honor your own needs and boundaries before you can expect others to honor them. This allows you to take control of your life.

                                2. Clear Communication Is Essential

                                Inform others clearly and directly what your expectations are. It is essential to have clear communication if you want others to respect your boundaries. Explain in an honest and respectful tone what you find offensive or unacceptable.

                                Many people simply aren’t aware that they are behaving inappropriately. They may never have been taught proper manners or consideration for others.

                                3. Be Specific but Don’t Blame

                                Taking a blaming or punishing attitude automatically puts people on the defensive. People will not listen when they feel attacked. It’s part of human nature.

                                That said, you do not need to overexplain or defend yourself. Boundaries are not open to compromise.

                                Sample language:

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                                • “You may not…yell or raise your voice to me…”
                                • “I need…to be treated with respect…”
                                • “It’s not okay when…you take things from my desk without asking…”
                                • “I won’t…do your work…cover for you anymore…”
                                • “It’s not acceptable when…you ridicule or insult me…”
                                • “I am uncomfortable when…you use offensive language”
                                • “I will no longer be able to…lend you money…”

                                Being able to communicate these without sounding accusatory is essential if you want others to respect your boundaries so you can take control of your life.

                                4. Consequences Are Often Necessary

                                Determine what the appropriate consequences will be when boundaries are crossed. If it’s appropriate, be clear about those consequences upfront when communicating those boundaries to others.

                                Follow through. People won’t respect your boundaries if you don’t enforce them.

                                Standing our ground and forcing consequences doesn’t come easily to us. We want to be nice. We want people to like us, but we shouldn’t have to trade our self-respect to gain friends or to achieve success.

                                We may be tempted to let minor disrespect slide to avoid conflict, but as the familiar saying goes, “if you give people an inch, they’ll take a mile.”

                                It’s much easier to address offensive or inappropriate behavior now than to wait until that behavior has gotten completely out of hand.

                                It’s also important to remember that positive reinforcement is even more powerful than negative consequences. When people do alter the way they treat you, acknowledge it. Let people know that you notice and appreciate their efforts.

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                                Final Thoughts

                                Respect is always a valid reason for setting a boundary. Don’t defend yourself or your needs. Boundaries are often necessary to protect your time, your space, and your feelings. And these are essential if you want to take control of your life.

                                Start with the easiest boundaries first. Setting boundaries is a skill that needs to be practiced. Enlist support from others if necessary. Inform people immediately when they have crossed the line.

                                Don’t wait. Communicate politely and directly. Be clear about the consequences and follow them through.

                                The better you become at setting your own boundaries, the better you become at recognizing and respecting the boundaries of others.

                                Remember that establishing boundaries is your right. You are entitled to respect. You can’t control how other people behave, but you do have control over the way you allow people to treat you.

                                Learning to set boundaries is not always easy, but with time, it will become more comfortable. You may eventually find that boundaries become automatic and you no longer need to consciously set them.

                                They will simply become a natural extension of your self-respect.

                                Featured photo credit: Thomas Kelley via unsplash.com

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