Exercise Balls and Back Pain

One way to get a good stretch is with an exercise ball. Many people like these because you can stretch your back without straining it and other muscles. And like with pilates, exercise ball stretching helps strengthen your core muscles, including your back. If you are new to the exercise ball, chose one that is soft and not 100% inflated. These are just a little bit easier to work on than hard balls. As with other stretches, do these exercise ball stretches slowly and smoothly, hold for about ten seconds (longer if you can), and repeat ten times.

BACK ARCH: Sit on the ball as if it is a chair. Walk your feet forward so that the ball rolls under your back until your rear end is on the ground. Place your hands behind your head and slowly push yourself back up so that you roll backwards over the ball.

BACK FLOOR PRESS: Lie on the floor with the ball under your knees and legs over it. Arms should be resting at your sides. Pull your belly button towards your spine and hold. Remember to keep the rest of your muscles relaxed. As you get more comfortable with this exercise, you can do it while lifting your arms a few inches off the floor, as in the pilates Hundred.

Stretching for Back Ache Relief

Stretching is very important in relieving back pain for several reasons:

    1) it improves your flexibility, which in turn allows your back to move through its natural range of motion painlessly,
    2) it sends necessary nutrients to the tissue along the spine that keep your muscles from getting stiff and weak, and
    3) it helps to prevent further injury to the back.

Some of the recommended yoga and pilates exercises involve stretching, and listed below are a few more stretches that will benefit the back. There are a couple of things you should remember about stretching. First, you should not feel pain when you stretch. If you do, you have gone too far so ease up a little. Stretch only as far as you comfortably can, hold it for about ten seconds, and then slowly release the stretch. And second, don’t bounce. Move smoothly and slowly. If you jerk or bounce your body, you’re likely to injure it.

Tai Chi practiced along Victoria Harbor, HK, China

Tai Chi for Back Aches

Tai chi is an ancient form of martial arts that is soft and slow, making it great for people who have back pain. The Taoist Tai Chi Society‘s Medical Advisers have documented that tai chi helps improve posture, reduce spinal degeneration, maintain flexibility of joints, improve balance, and increase strength and stability in the lower back. Everyone can benefit from tai chi; if you can’t do the exercises standing up, you can still do many of them while sitting in a chair.

Unlike yoga, tai chi requires extensive movement, but is less jarring to the joints than aerobic exercise. It’s almost impossible to describe how to do a tai chi movement correctly—you really need to see someone else doing it to understand. There are numerous videos you can check out if you’re interested, and some video stores offer free exercise video rentals.

Libraries may have videos, too. The best way to learn tai chi, though, is from an instructor, and classes tend to be relatively inexpensive. Take a class or two just to learn the movements and you’ll be able to practice at home on your own.

Pilates and Back Pain

Pilates is another great exercise for relieving back pain because it focuses on strengthening your core muscles, which include the back. Pilates exercises are very smooth and controlled movements, so there is little danger of getting injured while exercising. It’s also a great way work on your strength and flexibility, both of which help to alleviate back pain. However, as with yoga, you should avoid any extreme twisting or bending movements. Also as with yoga, Pilates exercises should be done on a mat or other soft, supportive surface.

One of the best benefits of Pilates is that it helps improve posture, a common cause of lower back pain. Use common sense when doing Pilates; if exercises that arch your back hurt, don’t do those. Or if exercises that round your back hurt, do only the back arching ones.

The following Pilates exercises benefit the spine and are appropriate for beginners. Do each exercise slowly and smoothly, and repeat ten times if you can. The key to pilates is quality of exercise, not quantity; it is more important to do fewer exercises slowly and correctly than to do all ten repetitions quickly.

Yoga for Back Pain Sufferers

A good, regular yoga practice will go far in relieving the stress and tension that sometimes cause mild back pain, and in fact, studies have shown that yoga is the number one most effective exercise for relieving back pain. However, not all yoga poses relieve back pain, and some can in fact aggravate existing pain, so it is important to know which poses will be most helpful in relieving back pain.

It is best to do these exercises under the supervision of a certified yoga instructor, and if you encounter any problems with these poses, you should consult an expert. Even just one or two sessions with a yoga instructor can help, as an instructor will help you with your form and posture during poses. Here are some of the best yoga poses for relieving back pain. Each pose should be held from five to ten seconds, depending upon your level of comfort, and should be done on a mat or other soft, supportive surface.

Exercise for Back Pain Relief

Many people believe that rest is best for a painful back, but actually, what your back really needs when it’s hurt is exercise. Regular exercise relieves back pain by strengthening and stretching the muscles that support the spine and helps to prevent future injury.

This is a use it or lose it situation: the more you rest, the weaker your back gets, even if it is hurt. Studies have actually shown that you can heal your back pain faster and get back to your regular activities with just two days of rest.

So don’t forget to stay active when your back is bothering you.

Exercise Programs

Injections for Back Pain Relief

Spinal injections have been used to as an alternative to surgery in treating back pain since the early 1900s. Studies have shown injections to be effective in up to 50% of patients. They are typically given after medication and physical treatments have been utilized, but before surgery. Injections tend to be more effective than oral pain medication because they deliver medicine right to the source of the pain.

Sacroiliac joint blocks are injections used to treat low back pain. The sacroiliac (SI) joints are located next to the spine and connect the sacrum to the pelvis. Painful joints cause pain in the lower back, buttocks, abdomen, groin, and legs. SI joint blocks work in three ways:

    1) they are used to determine if the SI joint is the source of back pain (if the injection makes the pain better, that’s where the pain is coming from)
    2) the numbing medication used in the block gives temporary relief so the patient can have chiropractic or other physical treatments immediately after the block is administered
    3) a time-release steroid gives extended pain relief by reducing inflammation.

Back Pain Medication

Among the common pain relief medications prescribed by physicians for back pain are muscle relaxants, antidepressants, NSAIDs (nonsteroidal inflammatory drugs) and COX –2 inhibitors. Some popular muscle relaxants are cyclobenzaprine (Flexeril), carisoprodol (Soma), methocarbamol (Robaxin) and gabapentin, in seizure medications. The NSAIDs help with stiffness and in reducing inflammation. Opiates like Duragesic or OxyContin may be prescribed but are not a popular choice with a low risk of possible addiction.

With all medications, other treatment strategies should be combined into the relief program. So physical therapy, movement and posture techniques and other treatment options should be carefully assessed to see which combination best helps relief over time.

Injections

Doctors may also prescribe injections, such as Sacroiliac joint blocks, Thoracic Facet Joint injections, Epidural steroid injections, selective nerve root block, and Facet rhizotomy.

Relaxants