Exercises for Back Pain

This brief document from the United States FDA suggests exercises which may help relieve back pain. For more detailed information on low back pain, also see “Low Back Pain Information”.

Illustration of back exercises.

A. Lie flat on your back. Hug your knees to your chest and at the same time, bring your chin to your chest. Repeat twice, holding for 15 seconds each.

B. Begin on your hands and knees. Simultaneously raise and straighten your right arm and left leg until they are parallel to the ground. Hold for 2 seconds and come back slowly to a starting position. Repeat with left arm and right leg, alternating 10 times.

C. Lie facedown, arms extended overhead, palms on floor. Simultaneously raise your right arm and left leg as high as comfortably possible. Hold for 10 seconds and slowly return to start. Repeat with left arm and right leg, alternating 10 times. Gradually build up to 20 times.

D. Lie facedown, arms at your side and place heels under couch. Slowly raise chest off the floor as high as you comfortably can. Hold for 2 seconds and return to start. Gradually increase to 20 times.

Strong lower-back muscles and abdominals work together in maintaining a pain-free and healthy back. These exercises will help strengthen the muscles of the lower back, but it is important that you begin your exercises slowly and increase levels gradually. Always begin any exercise program with stretching. Talk to your doctor before attempting any exercises, especially if you are already experiencing back pain.

Source: National Capital YMCA of Washington, D.C.

FDA Consumer magazine (March-April 1998)

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