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5 Exercises To Strengthen Your Back

Did you know your back is made up of three different types of muscles? Each type plays a different role. Extensor muscles help you lift objects as well as stand up, flexor muscles help you bend forward, lift and arch the lower back, and oblique muscles promote good posture and rotate the spine.

It’s easy to take your back muscles for granted, but the reality is that when these muscles are weakened or tight, it can lead to back pain. Because back pain and weak muscles can go hand-in-hand, Dr. John Regan and our team at Spine Group Beverly Hills frequently suggest at-home exercises to help reduce back pain

Below, we highlight five exercises that strengthen the muscles in your back — and what you can do if exercise alone isn’t enough.

Exercise to strengthen your back

Not all exercises are good for your back, especially if you already have back pain. Exercises such as sit-ups (with your hands clasped behind your neck) and heavy overhead lifts can lead to injuries, particularly if your form isn’t perfect. Lifting something heavy over your head can increase the risk that you overarch your lower back, which can lead to compression on your vertebrae. 

The good news is there are plenty of exercises that do strengthen your core muscles. However, it’s good practice to get the green light from Dr. Regan before embarking on any new exercise program. This is especially true if you already have underlying conditions like osteoarthritis or herniated discs.

Once you’re cleared for exercise, the following five exercises can strengthen your muscles and help prevent back pain.

1. Walking

Walking is one of the best exercises for your entire body, and that’s also true for your back. In fact, the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons recommends walking as part of a recovery plan from back surgery. Walking:

Not only does walking help strengthen your muscles, but studies show that walking also helps reduce chronic back pain.

2. Swimming

Swimming is frequently recommended as a low-impact exercise. It’s good for people with joint pain, but it also helps to strengthen the muscles in your back. The buoyancy of the pool water helps to counteract gravity, which then decreases the compressive load on your spine.

3. Yoga

Many people think of yoga asanas (poses) as stretches, but some poses gently strengthen your muscles too. Certain asanas target your core muscles, which include your back muscles and abdominal muscles. These include the downward dog, plank pose, and temple pose. 

4. Bridges

The bridge exercise is another exercise you can add to your daily routine. To perform a bridge, lie flat on your back on a soft surface such as a yoga mat. Keep your knees bent, and your feet flat on the floor. Then, tighten both your abdominal and gluteal muscles and lift your hips up toward the ceiling. Hold the position while taking three deep breaths; repeat the entire process five-30 times. 

This pose strengthens your hamstrings and your gluteus muscles. It also enhances your core stability by targeting your abdominal muscles and the muscles of your lower back.

5. Shoulder squeeze

Shoulder squeezes are an easy exercise you can perform at work – even while sitting at your desk. While sitting, pull your shoulder blades together, hold for five seconds, and then relax your muscles. You can repeat this three to five times each day. 

What if conservative treatments aren’t enough?

Back-strengthening exercises are often included in conservative treatment plans for back pain. However, even though it’s important to support and strengthen your back, sometimes conservative treatments just aren’t enough to deliver the pain relief you need.

If your back pain continues, you don’t need to accept it as the status quo. Whether you need prescription pain relievers, muscle relaxers, or even surgical treatments, Dr. Regan works hard to find the right back pain treatment so you can be comfortable.

If back pain is limiting your ability to live life on your terms, call our Beverly Hills or Santa Monica, California office to schedule an appointment.

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