We were designed to move… which is increasingly problematic in our modern lives where we can sit down for upwards of 8-10 hours every day. Movement keeps joints and muscles healthy, and it makes sense that movement and exercise would have a beneficial effect on back pain, but what does the research say?
Studies show that exercise reduces the risk of lower back pain and associated problems. These studies recommend a combination of strengthening and either stretching or aerobic exercises carried out 2-3 times/week. This programme can be recommended for prevention of lower back pain in the general population.
Strengthening of the lumbar and cervical extensors has been proven to reduce pain significantly in patients suffering from chronic lower back and neck pain.
An example of lumbar extensor strengthening is described below:
Lying face down with the arms at the side of the body.
- Contract the lower abdominal muscles gently to protect the spine.
- Raise the upper body off the floor whilst breathing regularly.
- Hold this for 5 seconds and slowly return to the starting position.
- Repeat this 10 times with periods of rest between contractions.