Back Pain Exercises
How to strengthen your back
There are so many causes of back pain, from repetitive strain to acute injuries and bad posture. Our backs also get increasingly worse as we get older which makes it even more important that you manage any pain as it may be a sign that your back pain won't be going away anytime soon and may actually get worse. Back pain in general is an increasingly more common source of concern for a lot of people and as mentioned in the video below, it is a very common health problem in the UK.
The causes of back pain won't be addressed in this video so if you don't have general back pain and think you might have something a bit more specific or a lot more worrying then the best idea is to not do these exercises until you have consulted your physician, a back specialist or a chiropractor. This is because you could have a problem that you will most likely worsen if you are doing the wrong exercises.
An example of this would be Sciatica, if you were to do these exercises then you might find that they agitate the trapped nerve. If you are looking for exercise for your lower back and for Sciatica then please take a look at our Buyer's Guide on how to ease Sciatica pain.
Unlike other parts of the body which can benefit from more advanced strengthening techniques that make use of tools such as resistance bands, the back is quite a tricky part of the body to exercise and the muscles require very specific exercises to get the best results. The 5 back strengthening exercises covered in this guide will however help to ease back pain and muscle tension, some of them can even help restore mobility and improve your flexibility.
If flexibility is your aim, you should also consider Yoga and Pilates, we have a guide on Pilates equipment for beginners and one on Yoga for Beginners too. You'll notice that a yoga mat is used in the videos which will definitely come in handy so take a look at our Yoga and Pilates section if you think it'll help you do these exercises.
5 Back Strengthening Exercises
This video covers all of the back strengthening exercises that will be discussed in this exercise guide. At the beginning of the video, the five-step acronym STEPS is explained, it stands for Stretch, Therapy, Exercise, Posture and Strengthen.
The exercises in this guide will be the last part; strengthening but it is important to observe the other parts of the acronym if you want to manage your back pain properly.
If you want to read more information on the acronym, please read our 5 tips for Back Pain Buyer's Guide.
Back Strengthening Exercise 1 - Roll down
This looks more like a stretch than an exercise but it is very good for strengthening the muscles in your back and stretching your spine at the same time.
As you are using a gradual motion, the different muscle groups are used independently and have to support a lot more weight than usually would due to the range of positions your body goes through.
This strengthening exercise is particularly good for back pain caused by bad posture because it targets your shoulders and neck as well and it is good for loosening up tense muscles.
Back Strengthening Exercise 2 - The plank
If you have heard of any of the other exercises covered in this article, you must at least be familiar with the plank and if not then count yourself lucky because it is an extremely demanding exercise.
The plank is also useful for core strengthening so if you don't have a strong core this will help sort that out too if you do it long enough and frequently enough.
As demonstrated in the video, the best approach is to start off with your arms in the push-up position but with your back at about a 45-degree angle and don't hold it for too long unless it's really easy for you.
Then transition to the elbow position which is the position more widely associated with the plank and finally the flat position with your chin resting on your hands.
Back Strengthening Exercise 3 Swimming
It's not quite what it sounds like don't worry you won't have to worry about swimming on the ground like a fish out of water. This exercise emulates some positions that you might find yourself in when swimming different strokes.
Earlier on we mentioned the STEPS acronym which has Exercise as the third step, swimming is one of the best exercises for back pain and general therapy.
The difference between this and actually swimming is this is a lot harder because you don't have the water which actually makes it easier so doing these movements on the ground will be a lot better for strengthening your back muscles.
Back Strengthening Exercise 4 - The Bridge
The bridge - it is pretty much what you'd imagine it to be; lifting your body off the floor so it is suspended in the air and holding that position.
You should only push yourself to reach the position demonstrated in the video which is around 45 degrees.
Try to hold the position for a brief period but although it looks like an inverse version of a plank, holding it for too long will probably strain your back a bit.
The progression of the movement downwards is where the value lies, try to move back down as slow as possible instead and you'll find that you can feel it more in the lower back muscles. This strengthening exercise can also help with flexibility and general mobility.
The bridge can also help with your proprioception and balance when you do it with a wobble cushion
Back Strengthening Exercise 5 - The 100
I know this one might look a little bit ridiculous and it's probably not the best exercise to do at the gym if you don't want to end up on some teenager's TikTok or Snapchat story but it is more helpful than it looks.
It's also very simple, maintain the position demonstrated and start with your palms facing down.
Try to follow the steps demonstrated at the very least but you can through in a couple more extra hand position switches before dropping your legs to get the most out of this exercise.