In order to recover from almost any type of injury, to strengthen the body, or even to prevent back pain, it is important to know how to properly and safely perform back stretches and exercises. Back pain can come from injuries or conditions that have arisen in many of the muscles in the back. Aside from pain, there are other reasons to perform back stretches and exercises. These include such benefits as strengthening the body and injury prevention. The muscle that is in charge of helping instigate the movement between vertebrae is called the intertransversarii muscle. While the one that facilitates the whole spine’s movement is the multifidus spinae. Located in the upper back, the trapezius muscle runs between the neck, anterior chain, the thoracic vertebra, and the shoulders. Forming the shape of a triangle from the shoulder to the hip is the latissimus dorsi.1
Back Stretches and Exercises
Whether performed by patients for back pain prevention, or for pain relief and rehabilitation, there are many kinds of back exercises available. Chiropractors may prescribe specific types of exercises in regular repetition for injury recovery. There are also exercises people can do at home to increase their overall fitness and wellbeing and avoid trauma in the back. A knee-to-chest stretch is performed while the patient is lying on their back. The same prone position is utilized in the lower back rotational stretch, lower back flexibility exercise, and bridge exercise. The cat stretch is done while the patient is supporting themselves on their hands and knees.
Some exercises may be performed while seated in a chair. Examples are the seated lower back rotational stretch and the shoulder blade squeeze. This means that even patients with physical limitations are still able to find some version of many exercises that work for them and are still effective.2
There are many types of exercises that people can perform for fitness and flexibility. Some lower back exercises include the atlas stone trainer, weight/band/chain deadlifting, child’s pose, crossover reverse lunge, dancer’s stretch, hugging the knees to the chest, hugging an exercise ball, pelvic tilt, and superman. The middle back exercises include kettlebell (and other) rows, incline bench pulls, middle back stretches and shrugs, chin-ups, and spinal stretches. For the upper back, people may wish to try shoulder presses, arm circles, back fly, shoulder shrug, elbow circles, iron cross, lateral raise, pull-ups, shoulder stretches, side wrist pull, and rowing. With such a wide list of exercises and variations available to try, almost any patient, with the help of a professional medical practitioner, should be able to find a workout routine that works for them.3
There are many other types of exercises and stretches that people can perform, no matter what their fitness level is. Each person needs to find the exercises that they are able to do, both safely and while using proper posture and form. This is to prevent injuries. Doing these stretches and exercises improperly might not only lead to injury but it is also not very effective in treatment, recovery, and strengthening. From planks to bird-dog, to cat camel and leg raises, to other yoga positions, such as downward-facing dog (and more), there are stretches for each person and in almost any physical condition.4 Many exercises can be performed both with and without the use of extra equipment, and those that do use additional equipment might include barbells, free weights, straps, exercise balls, bars, or other devices. Cost and fitness level need not be an obstacle.
If a person is under the guidance of a practitioner of chiropractic care, their DC will help them find the appropriate stretches and exercises for their treatment plan. Typically, prescribed exercises will include neck exercises, low back exercises, and strengthening exercise programs. Exercises will be relevant to the patient’s healing and recovery from whatever condition brought them to the chiropractor in the first place. Their exercise program will also evolve and change and the patient works through their treatment plan and becomes stronger.
Patients who are just starting out should always keep in mind that pushing themselves too far beyond their limits could almost definitely do more harm than good. Everyone works at their own pace, and attempting to rush one’s own physical capabilities, especially considering what other injury or ailment is troubling them, will not do any good in the long run. Patients who need forms of compensation or assistive equipment are encouraged to ask about alternative options to help them achieve their goals rather than performing exercises that do not fit their physical condition or skipping these exercises entirely. While every exercise program should be custom to the patient and their needs, these patients should still feel that they are able to speak up and provide additional modifications and requirements that could have been overlooked by the healthcare professional.5
Learn more about back pain and its causes.