Exercise and back pain — exercises to help decompress the spine

Exercise is often used as a form of staying healthy and preventing injury and health complications, but most people might not realize that exercise is also a great treatment for after an injury occurs. Particularly for people experiencing back pain, exercise has proven benefits to help reduce pain and prevent the development of future spine conditions.

If you are experiencing back pain or have been diagnosed with a spine condition, you may be hesitant to start exercising because you don’t want to increase your back pain. This reaction is normal and experienced by most spine care patients. However, you might find relief from your symptoms with doctor-recommended daily exercises to help increase your core strength.

You should always consult your doctor before starting any program for the purpose of treating a spine condition. He or she will help you determine the right amount and type of exercise that will fit your needs without overexerting yourself and causing damage to your spine. To learn about the particular exercises that can help decompress your spine, read the following article.

Exercise and spine health

While some spine conditions are caused by injury, most conditions occur from the natural degeneration of the spine due to age and weight gain. As time continues, the components of the spine are compressed by repetitive motions and weight gain. The vertebrae press against the joint and disc between each set of vertebrae, causing these components to gradually wear down.

Often, cases of spinal stenosis, spondylolisthesis and arthritis of the spine are the most common degenerative spine conditions caused by the natural aging process. For these cases, simple strength exercises can improve the health of the spine and help prevent future degenerative diseases from developing.

To have the best results for spine health, you should choose low-impact exercises that help to strengthen the back and core muscles. The best place to start is with cardiovascular exercises, like walking briskly or using an elliptical machine. The cardio will help to reduce excess weight and relieve pressure on your spine while walking, and using the elliptical will tighten and strengthen the core muscles. This will help stabilize the spine and support body weight to relieve pressure placed on the spine.

Strength exercises to increase spine health

Strengthening the core helps to relieve some of the pressure from the spine. This will reduce the risk of developing a degenerative spine condition, as well as provide pain relief from any current spine condition you may have. The three best core strengthening exercises to relieve back pain and promote a healthy spine are as follows:

  • Curl-ups. Similar to an abdominal crunch, curl-ups will help strengthen the core muscles and alleviate pain in the back. To begin, lie on the floor with your knees bent, your feet pressed firmly on the floor and your arms at your side. Keep your back straight and raise your shoulders off the floor about 6 inches. Hold this position for 10 seconds and lower back to the floor. Repeat this exercise 10 times.
  • Trunk raises. Trunk raises specifically target the large muscles in your back surrounding your spine. To begin, lie face down on the floor and keep your arms at your side. Keeping your back straight, lift your head and shoulders off the floor. You may lift your legs, as well, or keep them on the floor with your buttocks tightened for strength and balance. Hold this position for 10 seconds and then return to the floor. Repeat this exercise 10 times.
  • Alternating arm trunk raises. This exercise begins with the same method as the trunk raise outlined above. Once your shoulders and head are lifted off the ground, lift your right hand and extend it out in front of your head. Simultaneously lift your left leg and try to lift your thigh off the floor. Lower your left leg and right arm. Repeat this exercise with your left arm and right leg 10 times, alternating your arms and legs each time.

Alternative spinal decompression treatments

For more treatment options available to you to relieve back pain, contact the dedicated team at Laser Spine Institute. As the leader in minimally invasive spine surgery, we have helped thousands of patients find relief from chronic neck and back pain each year and we are confident that we can help you find relief.

Our board-certified+ surgeons can perform minimally invasive decompression procedures that use a less than 1-inch muscle-sparing incision to relieve any spine pain and discomfort you may be experiencing. If the exercises listed above are not effective in providing you with relief, reach out to our team for a free MRI review.* We can determine if you are a candidate for our outpatient surgery.