3_fabulous_exercises_to_h_122791_225531Every year, three out of four Americans will wind up paying a visit to their doctor because of back or neck pain. In the “good ol’ days,” most doctors prescribed bed rest for those times when your back was giving you trouble, but these days, science has changed the direction of the prevailing wisdom. We now know that bed rest is probably the worst thing you could do, and exercise is the surest and fastest way to get your back, back to normal.

Of course, not just any exercise will do. If you’re already in pain, then you’ve got to be careful with how you work those tender muscles. The exercises below are among the best choices for people suffering with back pain to help speed healing, and get you back to enjoying a pain free life.

Spinal Stretch

This one is a nice way to warm up and cool down. It’s low-intensity, and works most of the muscles in your back, so wherever your pain is centered, this one will help. Lie on a back with a pillow or other cushion under your head. Bend your legs at the knee, with your knees pressed together. Breathe slowly and deeply, and as you exhale, twist at the waist, rolling your knees until they touch the floor (or as close as you can get). Hold, and then return to the upright position, repeating on the next exhale. Start with five reps to one side, then switch and do five reps to the other.

Lower Back Stretch

This one is especially helpful for people suffering with lower back pain, but of course, it will provide some generalized benefit to any back pain sufferer. Begin on all fours, with your knees directly under your hips, and your hands directly under your shoulders. Your spine should be in its natural, “neutral” position. Your head should be held slightly up, so that it is in line with your spine, shoulders back, and elbows not locked. Breathe deeply, and on the exhale, slowly rock backwards from this position, buttocks toward heels. Hold for thirty seconds, then return to the starting position. Begin with five reps, working up to more as comfort allows.

Bird Dog

Another fantastic, general purpose stretch that gently works all the major muscles of the back. Begin on all fours, positioned as described in the Lower Back Stretch, above. Breathe deeply, and on the exhale, extend one leg, and the opposite arm out straight (or as straight as you’re able), running in a line with your spine. Hold this position for 5-10 seconds, then return to your starting position. On the next breath extend the other arm and leg. Try for ten reps (five per side), building on that number as comfort allows.

Using just these three exercises, you’ll be able to quickly, and in a low-impact manner, work those aching muscles, ease your pain, and restore greater mobility. Given time and consistent use, these stretches can get you fully back on your feet again.

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