6 Exercises You Need to Ease Your Pesky Back Pain

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POPSUGAR Photography

Back injuries can seem devastating. We literally put our backs into almost every type of work we do, especially at the gym. Though it may seem like you should stop working out when you have recurring back pain, it's actually the best time to get moving. In fact, the number one prescribed fix for the old bad back is back-strengthening exercise. We sought out a personal trainer's professional opinion on what exercises you should do. Sarah Chadwell, NASM CPT, helped us by advising us on exercises she uses with her clients who have bad backs.

"If you've experienced any type of back pain, sprain, or injury, it can literally feel like your fit lifestyle is over. However, with your doctor's OK, you can rebuild your back strength and make a full recovery with back-to-basics exercises that you can do from home. Focus on doing bodyweight exercises that involve the big three: your abs, glutes, and lats (all which make up your core). Think of these large muscle groups as your back's support system," said Chadwell. Here are the top six exercises she recommends.

Knee to Chest Stretch
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Knee to Chest Stretch

It's always ideal to start with a good stretch, and knee to chest is one of the perfect stretches to start with especially for lower back pain.

  • Lie on your back with both legs extended on the floor.
  • Keep one leg extended and touching the floor while you bring the other knee up into your chest.
  • Pull your knee close with your hands and hold it for 15 to 30 seconds. You shouldn't pull or hold so tight that it's uncomfortable. You should feel stretching in your glutes and lower back.
  • Lower the first leg and repeat with the opposite leg.
  • Complete two sets of 15-30 seconds on each leg.
Bird Dog
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Bird Dog

This exercise strengthens your core and stabilizes the lumbar portion of your spine without putting much pressure on your back.

  • Get on the ground on your hands and knees.
  • Keep your back neutral — or flat.
  • Reach forward with your right arm and push your left leg straight back simultaneously until they are in a straight line with your torso. As this point you'll resemble a bird dog that knows his job. Hold for a 2 count.
  • Lower back to starting position.
  • Then reverse the movement. Raise your left arm forward and right leg back.
  • That is one repetition.
  • Complete 2-3 sets of 10 repetitions.
Glute Bridge
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Glute Bridge

Many people have weak glutes, which is one of the largest and most powerful muscle groups in the human body. Strengthening your glutes can take serious pressure off of your back, and this exercise specifically targets your glutes.

  • Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the ground.
  • Leave your arms down by your sides with your palms flat on the floor.
  • Press down into the ground with your heels and push your hips into the air as high as you can to form a flat bridge.
  • Squeeze your glutes (very important) at the top of the motion while holding for a 2-3 count.
  • Repeat 10 per set for 2-3 sets.
Superman
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Superman

Strengthening the muscles that surround and support your spine is important. Well, Superman is here to save the day! This is a great exercise for lower back strength, plus it's simple to complete.

  • Lie on your stomach on a mat.
  • Raise both your arms and your legs straight up off the ground parallel to the floor.
  • Hold the position for 2-3 seconds.
  • Lower your arms and legs in a controlled manner.
  • Repeat this 10 times for one set.
  • Complete 2-3 sets.
Plank
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Plank

Planks work almost every muscle in your body. Some consider it the ultimate exercise. It will definitely work your entire core, including all of the big three that we discussed earlier.

  • Begin in a push-up position, balanced on your hands and toes. Your hands will be directly under your shoulders. Your feet will be hip-width apart.
  • Push all the way up until your arms are fully extended and lock your elbows.
  • Keep your body in a straight line and brace your core (draw your belly button in toward your spine).
  • Hold for 30-45 seconds.
  • Rest and repeat for 3-4 sets.
Wall Sit
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Wall Sit

Wall sits are another lower-body-strengthening exercise for quads, hamstrings, glutes, and hip flexors. Once again, you need lower body strength to support your back. Though this exercise appears easy, it is very taxing.

  • Stand with your back against a wall.
  • Place your feet approximately two feet in front of you with your feet hip-width apart.
  • Begin bending your knees and sliding your back down the wall until your knees are at a 90-degree angle.
  • Press your back into the wall and hold the "sitting" position for 20-30 seconds. Increase the time as you build strength.
  • Release to rest and then complete 2 more sets.