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3 Exercises to Treat Back Pain

Quadruped Extension Rotation
Quadruped Extention
Kneel on all fours. Lift and bend your left arm and place your left hand on the back of your head. Now twist your torso to the right so that your left elbow swivels toward your right arm, which should be kept straight. Now rotate back toward the starting position, but go a bit farther, so that your eyes are directed toward the wall to your left. Be careful not to rotate from the hips — all of the movement should come from your mid-back. Complete 12 rotations and then reverse your arm positions and rotate the opposite way.

Stabilize Your Lumbar Spine
An immobile thoracic spine does not occur in isolation. It’s almost always coupled with inadequate stability in the lumbar spine. Michael Boyle, CSCS, a Massachusetts-based strength-and-conditioning coach, recommends this exercise to increase lumbar stability.

Side Bridge
Side Bridge
Lie on your right side with your legs fully extended and stacked, and your right arm bent 90 degrees with your forearm on the floor. Lift your hips until your body forms a straight line from your neck to your ankles, with your weight on your forearm. You may do this exercise in front of a mirror to make sure your hips don’t sag toward the floor. Hold the bridge position for two or three 10-second increments and then switch sides. Do this exercise two or three times per week, and try to work up to 40 seconds total in 10-second bouts per side.

Assess Your Mid-Back Mobility
Only a physical therapist can accurately determine whether your thoracic spine lacks sufficient mobility, but there are a couple of simple self-tests that will give you an indication.

First, raise your arms straight overhead. “If your thoracic spine is stiff, it won’t be able to extend fully, and you won’t be able to get your biceps by your ears,” says Michael Boyle, CSCS, editor of www.strengthcoach.com. Your shoulders may feel restricted or even painful as you try, and you might also find yourself arching your lower back to make up for the stiffness in your mid-back.

Eric Cressey, CSCS, owner of Cressey Performance Training Center in Hudson, Mass., suggests a second self-test. “Standing normally, have somebody take a picture of you from the side,” he says. “You should be able to draw a straight, vertical line from your ear to the lateral aspect [the bony protrusion on the outside] of your ankle. If you see a lot of deviations of your spine on one side or the other of that line, you’ll know you’re dealing with a postural imbalance that very likely includes a lack of thoracic spine mobility.”

Matt Fitzgerald is a running and triathlon expert and the author of several books, including Maximum Strength (Da Capo, 2008) with Eric Cressey.

Related:
5 Secrets to Easing Back Pain
6 Ways to Help Relieve Pain
8 Simple Office, Car or Airplane Stretches

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Megan, selected from Experience Life

Experience Life magazine is an award-winning health and fitness publication that aims to empower people to live their best, most authentic lives, and challenges the conventions of hype, gimmicks and superficiality in favor of a discerning, whole-person perspective. Visit experiencelife.com to learn more and to sign up for the Experience Life newsletter, or to subscribe to the print or digital version.

240 comments

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2:22PM PST on Jan 31, 2014

If you can do yoga I'm sure it will help as it stretches and makes the back more flexible.

12:49PM PST on Jan 3, 2014

Thank you for the info to get me BACK in gear! Hope to utilize this info in that regard...

2:19AM PDT on Apr 2, 2013

Thank you.

11:03AM PDT on Mar 31, 2013

I get some back pain so this is good to know

8:00PM PDT on Sep 10, 2012

I've done the tennis ball thing before. It feels great!

9:23AM PDT on Aug 28, 2012

Really great article on getting pain relief from Sciatic nerve pain. Have you seen this other site on interventional pain management review, it's similar to yours. interventional pain management review This site is contributing to all people with any chronical pain.

7:44PM PDT on Jun 14, 2012

thanks

8:14PM PDT on Apr 24, 2012

Great information. Thanks for sharing.

2:05AM PDT on Apr 19, 2012

Thanks for valuable article and its very useful,especially for chronic suffers.Cheers

12:09AM PDT on Apr 16, 2012

Well, I do home care, so I'm not exactly what you'd call sedentary. My thoracic part of my back is sore, and no, I'm not weak... My muscles there are just as strong as a strong man's. Yet it's always hurting, constantly. and is stiff, and no, it doesn't seem to matter what I try. I am so stiff and sore that no, I can't get on the floor, it's difficult, and then impossible to get back up w/o help. If my spine in the area is cracked wrong, I get pneumonia. How do you exercise when you can't move?

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