The 10 Best at-Home Exercises to Reduce Back Pain
With COVID-19 increasing stress and restricting our ability to get out of the house, back pain is on the rise. Our routines are off, we're working in different spaces and sitting for prolonged periods of time (not to mention, we're holding all of that stress and tension in our bodies!).
The good news is, barring any true structural issues, most back pain can be greatly improved by getting up and moving! To do this, we'll be focusing on three key areas: building strength, improving mobility and incorporating aerobic exercise.
Studies show that by focusing on these three areas, we can build strength to support the lumbar spine, improve flexibility to increase our range of motion and increase blood flow to the soft tissues of the back.
How to Excercise to Improve Back Pain
Building strength in two major areas—our core and glutes—can greatly improve back pain. While you don't need any special equipment to do these at-home exercises, you may want to pick up a yoga or workout mat to make lying on the floor a bit more comfortable (we like this one from Lululemon, $68).
At-Home Core Workout
Our core (think the area between your shoulders to your hips) is what keeps our body upright and stable. When we sit for prolonged periods of time or are inactive, the muscles in our core can become weak. We need those muscles to be strong to support our bones and help our musculoskeletal system function properly.
When I'm working with my clients, there are three key exercises that I include to improve core strength and stability:
Incorporating these three exercises into your routine will help increase your core strength. And they can be modified to make them more difficult as you get stronger (like holding the poses for longer lengths of time).
At-Home Glute Workout
Our glutes are the largest muscle group in our body. The glutes are movement and power muscles and when they are functioning properly, we experience way less back pain than when they aren't.
The problem is, when we sit, our glutes go to sleep. And when we are at a desk or in the car or on the couch, the glutes turn off, go dormant and we have to wake them back up to turn the muscles on again.
The easiest thing to do is to stand up and squeeze your butt cheeks together. I know it sounds funny, but it's one of the things I tell my clients to do! It only takes a few seconds to stand up, squeeze your buns, stretch and then go back to whatever you were working on. Simple and effective!
I have three exercises that I routinely incorporate into clients' workouts to improve their glute strength and help reduce back pain.
How to Improve Mobility and Flexibility at Home
Hip mobility and flexibility are absolutely imperative for preventing back pain. In a study on patients with chronic low-back pain, researchers found that hip mobility exercises were more effective than conventional therapy at reducing low-back pain and disability.
Most experts would agree—to alleviate low-back pain, you have to make movement a priority. It's crucial to perform exercises that put our hip in extension, since when we sit, our hips are in constant flexion.
For hip mobility using no equipment, you can't go wrong with these three exercises:
How to do an at-Home Cardio Workout
When you are feeling stiff and sore, the last thing you may want to do is move. But that's exactly what you need to do! When we've been in one posture for too long—sitting and working, driving, standing or even laying down—our muscles get tight and the best way to loosen up is to move.
Research shows that aerobic exercise improves blood flow to the soft tissues in the back. When you improve blood flow, you speed the healing process. Aerobic exercise also involves a key element in improved health and reduced stress: movement!
Going for a walk, a bike ride or taking an online workout class are all easy ways to get your heart rate up and your blood flowing.
And remember, whatever exercise you choose, the most important thing is to get up and move!