Preventing a Pain in the Back

The author wishes to acknowledge John Manire and Jennifer Moreillon for their assistance in the preparation of this article.

Nearly four of every five people will suffer from back pain at some time in their life. Most will recover from the pain within a week, regardless of the treatment they receive.

Back pain associated with damage to the discs between the vertebrae is the cause in only about 1 to 5 percent of cases. Muscle strain is the cause of most cases of back pain.

Hamstring Stretch
This stretch is for the backs of the thighs. Tightness of the hamstring muscle group is associated with lower back pain.
Standing Cat and Camel
This stretch is very effective as a total back exercise.
Standing Back Extension
This strengthens the whole back.
Lateral Trunk Flexion
(Alternate Sides)

This is an effective exercise for spinal movement in a different plane than the cat and camel and back extension exercises.
Pelvic Tilt
To do this, imagine you are sucking your navel back into your spine. This movement flattens out the natural curve in your lower back and is the correct position for doing the following exercises.
Lower-Back Stretch
Alternate the legs, and note the correct hand position shown. This stretches the muscles and helps create space between the vertebral discs of the lower back.
These can also be done with one leg straight and one leg bent. You need only to lift the shoulder blades off the floor. You can increase the degree of difficulty by placing the hands behind the head. Be sure to keep the neck in a neutral position, neither flexed forward nor extended backward.
Modified Side Bridge
No single exercise works all the abdominal muscles. This exercise strengthens side abdominal muscles.

Push up with the lower arm; you should feel a stretch of the side muscles.

Kneeling Cat and Camel Stretch
Follow same procedure as standing cat and camel. This is another good stretch for the entire back.


Factors having the most influence on whether a person will have back pain include:

  • Fatigue
  • Excessive body weight
  • Sedentary lifestyle
  • Incorrect posture
  • Sitting for extended periods of time
  • A previous back injury

Can Back Injuries Be Prevented?

While there is no definitive answer to this question, most clinicians believe that an exercise program that increases strength, stability and flexibility of the back will aid in injury prevention.

The exercises shown are meant to stabilize the back, which can help prevent injuries. These exercises can be done at home or at work.

It is recommended that you start with five repetitions of each exercise, working up to 10 repetitions. Hold each position for 10 to 15 seconds. The exercises progress from standing to floor positions.

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