Maureen ‘Mo’ Hagan, a licensed physiotherapist and vice president of program innovation and fitness development with GoodLife Fitness and canfitpro, says back pain can be triggered by general de-conditioning and sedentary habits, poor posture, faulty movement mechanics and carrying excess body weight. But improving movement patterns and strengthening the muscles that support the spine can help address the problem and reduce the suffering associated with back pain.
- Child’s pose: This simple yoga pose focuses on elongating the spine. Breathe deeply to enhance the stretch and decompress more effectively. Hold the position for 3-5 deep relaxing breaths or as long as it is comfortable. Place your arms either alongside your body or forward with your hands positioned under for forehead.
- Hang from a pull-up bar: Reach up and hang from a pull-up bar (or a solid door frame). Let go with your feet and allow gravity to lengthen your spine and stretch your spinal muscles. You can also lengthen your spine and create space between the vertebrae by lifting both arms overhead, interlace your fingers and turn the palms upward toward the ceiling. As you inhale slowly press the palms up towards the ceiling allowing both shoulders to lift up toward the ears…pause and exhale.
- Knee-to-chest stretch: This stretch can be performed in a sitting or lying position (on your back) by drawing one or both knees up towards the chest. Hold your knee(s) as you breathe deeply to enhance the stretch and decompress the spine and stretch the hips and hamstrings (which may be a contributing factor).
- Improper axial loading. This happens when you perform exercises with improper alignment of the spinal column or with incorrect movement mechanics. This is common when performing strength training moves such as deadlifts, squats, and lunges with a barbell on your shoulders.
- Doing sit-ups and crunches just after you wake up. The spinal disks are fully hydrated first thing in the morning and when the trunk flexes (especially with a weight) it can place too heavy a load on the tissues.
- Lifting with your lower back. It’s important to bend your knees, brace your core and lift your chest, to maintain a long, neutral spine when you lift heavy weights or equipment.
- Poor posture. A common issue for most exercisers that sit at their desk for work or who drive a lot, as this leads to a bent-over posture, rounded shoulders and upper back, and forward head posture
- Ignoring the pain. It’s important to modify your exercises and seek help from a professional when you feel ongoing or radiating pain and discomfort