Perhaps one of the most common ailments in the working world today, back pain can be both uncomfortable and debilitating for many Americans. While the causes and severity of back pain varies from person to person, anybody can benefit from completing a few simple exercises aimed at strengthening the support muscles throughout the back and legs, many of which can be completed at home.
Hamstring Exercises for Back Pain Relief
While the connection might not seem relevant at first, many causes of back pain stem from weak leg muscles, especially the hamstrings (large muscles on the backside of the leg). According to Peter F. Ullrich, Jr., MD, a contributor to Spine-Health.com, performing a standing hamstring stretch on a regular basis is vital to eliminating back pain while increasing flexibility. This stretch and exercise is done by standing still and slightly bending forward at the waist with arms hanging down and legs relatively straight in order to increase stretch leverage. Essentially, this movement is the same as doing a standing toe-touch. When a comfortable but strong stretch is felt in the hamstrings, it is recommended to slowly begin standing back up straight.
McKenzie Exercises Focused on Back Strength
Named for a physical therapist from New Zealand who specialized in back muscle health, the McKenzie exercise programs focus much on building strength within the back without compromising joint flexibility within the hips and spine. According to Ullrich, there is a wide range of McKenzie exercises which can be performed either laying down or standing up. An example of such an exercise is focusing on the extension of the back and spine while lying on your stomach and reaching both legs and arms toward the ceiling in a smooth, controlled motion. This movement is essentially a reverse sit-up and allows the participant to increase flexibility within the back while strengthening muscles in the lower back and hips.
Wall Squats for Core and Leg Strength
According to Back.com, a back-pain resource powered by the health company Medtronic, another effective exercise that focuses on strengthen building in the legs and core muscles is wall squats. This exercise is done by standing facing away from a sturdy wall and leaning backwards until the back and shoulders are flat on the wall’s surface. The participant will then slowly bend his or her knees to no more than a 45-degree angle, and then hold this pose for at least 30 seconds. This exercise can be repeated numerous times throughout the day and is a great way to build strength in all leg and core back muscles.
About this Author
Adam Fonseca has been a writer and blogger since 2005. He maintains a number of different blogs on a variety of subjects ranging from health care to golf. Fonseca has a Master of Health Administration degree from the University of Phoenix and degrees in health science and psychology from Bradley University.