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, with the consultation of your physician, you might find relief from your pain and symptoms with daily exercises to help increase your core strength.

You should always consult your physician before starting any program for the purpose of treating a spine condition. Your physician 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.

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.

In order to have the best results for spine health, you should choose exercises that are low-impact and help to strengthen the back and core muscles. The best place to start is with low-impact cardiovascular exercise, such as walking briskly or using an elliptical machine. The cardio will help to reduce excess weight and relieve pressure on your spine, while the body’s motion of walking or using the elliptical will tighten and strengthen the core muscles, which help to stabilize the spine and support the weight of the body so all of the pressure is not on the spinal components.

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. Lie on the floor with your knees bent and your feet pressed firmly on the floor and your arms at your side. Keep your back straight and raise your shoulders off of the floor about 6 inches. Hold this position for 10 seconds. Lower back the floor. Repeat 10 times.
  • Trunk raises — Trunk raises specifically target the large muscles in your back surrounding your spine. Lie face down on the floor and keep your arms at your side. Keeping your back straight, lift your head and shoulders off of 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.
  • 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 of 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 of the floor. Lower your left leg and right arm. Repeat this exercise with your left arm and right leg. Repeat exercise 10 times, alternating arms and legs each time.

For more treatment options available to you to relieve back pain, contact our care team at Laser Spine Institute. We’ve helped over 50,000 people find relief from chronic neck and back pain, and we are confident we can help you find relief, too.