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Back and Neck Exercises

FAQs: Back and Neck Exercises

• What types of exercises are safe for someone with back pain?
• Which Exercises Can Help Reduce Back Pain?
• Are there any back-strengthening exercises that I can do to help protect my back from injury?
• What exercises should I continue doing to keep my low back toned and healthy?
• What is the best aerobic exercise I can do to take care of my spine?
• Are abdominal “crunch” exercises the best way to keep from having low back pain?

What types of exercises are safe for someone with back pain?

Exercises that are safe for back pain are ones that ensure the spine are kept in a neutral position and produce the least amount of spinal compression. Dr. Stu McGill at the University of Waterloo is the leading researcher in low back pain and has demonstrated that the front plank, side plank/bridge, cross-crawl and supine bridges are the best for targeting the core when rehabilitating patients with low back pain. As well, body weight lunges/hip hinging and squats are effective to teach proper spinal alignment and lifting techniques to prevent recurrence and groove proper movement patterns.  The key to performing any exercise program is proper form. Supervised exercise programs are far more effective. If you have low back pain, seeing a chiropractor or physiotherapist would be advised to receive the proper diagnosis and prescribed exercises based on your condition.

Which exercises can help reduce back pain?

Staying active is the best way to help reduce low back pain.  Fast paced walking is one of the best activities to continue as much as possible to prevent atrophy and inhibition of your muscles.  Bed rest should be avoided if possible.  Exercises can be prescribed based on your diagnosis by a chiropractor or physiotherapist.  Certain types of low back pain respond best to different exercises and thus having an accurate diagnosis is the key to the prescription of exercise.

Are there any back-strengthening exercises that I can do to help protect my back from injury?

Some of my favourite exercises designed to prevent and rehabilitate low back pain patients once they are out of pain stage can be viewed in the following attachments.

What exercises should I continue doing to keep my low back toned and healthy?

The best exercises to keep your low back in great shape is lots of lunges, squats, theraband walks, planks, side planks, glute bridges, bird-dogs and cross crawls.  Also make use of the stability ball for bench presses and rows for upper body strength.  Even better challenge yourself with pull-ups and chin-ups to help strengthen the lats which work in concert with the glutes for spinal stability and movement.

What is the best aerobic exercise I can do to take care of my spine?

The best aerobic exercise is the one that you will do often.  Walking is one of the easiest exercises for anyone to do at any time.  Not only is aerobic exercise important but strength training should be included minimum twice per week to help maintain bone density and muscle mass.

Are abdominal “crunch” exercises the best way to keep from having low back pain?

Abdominal “crunches” are extremely dangerous to your low back and spine because they produce high amounts of disc pressure because of the flexion they put on your spine.  As well, they cause you to lose the natural curvatures of your spine which again prevent you from maintaining spinal stability. The best abdominal exercises to prevent low back pain are planks, planks on the stability ball where you roll in and out and go clockwise and counter-clockwise, side planks, glute bridges, and cross-crawls.  All of these exercises have been proven to be the most effective at increasing abdominal core strength while producing the least amount of forces to your spine.