Exercises that strengthen your back and abdominal muscles may be the best way to speed recovery from back pain and stiffness. A stiff back can occur when you strain, sprain or develop a spasm in one of the muscles or ligaments in your back. If you develop pain while exercising that lasts more than 15 minutes, or experience a sharp pain, stop exercising and call your doctor.
Neck, Upper Back and Shoulder Stretch
Stretch your neck, upper back and shoulders to build strength and relieve stress. Do this often, especially after strength training or other activities that make you feel stiff, such as sitting for long periods. Begin by standing with your feet shoulder-width apart. Keep your knees straight, but don't lock them. Clasp your hands in front of you, and rotate them so that your palms face the floor. Raise your arms to chest height and slowly press your palms away from your body. You should feel the stretch in your upper back and neck. Hold for 20 to 30 seconds and release. Repeat five to 10 times, breathing throughout the exercise.
Wall squats are one way to help strengthen muscles in your lower back. Begin by standing with your back leaning against a wall. Walk your feet 12 inches in front of your body. Hold your abdominal muscles tight while slowly bending both knees to a 45-degree angle. Hold the stretch for five seconds before slowly returning to an upright position. Repeat 10 times.
The piriformis stretch is another effective stretch to help relieve stiffness and pain in your lower back. Begin by lying on your back with both knees bent. Cross one leg over the other. Using both hands, pull your lower knee toward your chest until a stretch is felt in your hip and buttocks. Hold for 20 seconds before slowly returning to the starting position. Repeat five times on each side.
Your abdominal muscles contribute to your core stability. By strengthening your abs, you can alleviate stiffness, relieve pain and help your posture. Begin an abdominal curl by lying on your back on the floor with your knees bent and your feet flat. With your elbows out, place your hands behind your head. To the count of two, slowly raise your upper back and shoulders off the floor while exhaling. Pause and then slowly lower your shoulders back onto the floor while inhaling, also to a count of two. Do two sets of ten repetitions.
- National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke: Low Back Pain Fact Sheet
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Growing Stronger - Strength Training for Older Adults
- American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons: Low Back Pain Exercise Guide
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Why Strength Training?
- Tom Le Goff/Photodisc/Getty Images
This article reflects the views of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views of Jillian Michaels or JillianMichaels.com.