How to Strengthen Your Back and Avoid Injury

May 10, 2019

If you suffer from back pain or are recovering from a minor back injury, you can take simple steps to strengthen your back, increase your comfort and avoid future injury. “Back pain doesn’t have to mean avoiding all activity and taking it easy,” says Cathy Merlo, physical therapist at Riverview Rehabilitation Center. “By incorporating a few back-strengthening exercises and stretches into your routine, and adopting some back-friendly habits, you can more comfortably enjoy daily life.”

Exercises to Try

To reduce back pain and your risk of injury, focus on strengthening the muscles that support your spine through various stretching, strengthening and conditioning exercises, Cathy says. Back-strengthening exercises can include:

  • Modified Planks: Position yourself on the floor with your hands flat on the ground, your elbows extended positioned under your shoulders and your hands positioned shoulder width apart. Keep your knees on the floor and bend them slightly so that your heels are off the floor. Make a straight line from your knees to the top of your head. Tighten your abs and hold.
  • Bridging: Lay on your back with your knees bent and feet on the floor with your arms by your sides. Tighten your pelvic floor and tighten your abdominals by slightly flattening your back against the floor. Exhale and lift your buttocks from the floor.
  • Seated Hip Flexion: Begin sitting with good posture in a chair. Activate your abdominals by tightening the abdominals. Slowly lift your left leg from the hip, keeping your knee bent, hold, then return to the starting position. Lift your right leg, hold, then return to the starting position. Keep your abdominals tightened as you lift and lower your leg.

Activities to Avoid

Certain daily habits can contribute to back pain. “Avoiding these activities can go a long way in increasing your comfort,” Cathy adds.

For example:

  • Do not lift items that are too heavy for your weight.
  • Avoid sitting on chairs or couches that are too soft; choose firmer options instead.
  • Try not to bend over at the waist to pick items off the floor.
  • Avoid sitting sedentary at your desk all day; incorporate standing and walking breaks.

Habits to Adopt

In addition to avoiding certain activities, you can incorporate several simple habits into your day to reduce back pain and risk of injury, Cathy says.

  • Consider a stand-up desk instead of a sit-down desk at work.
  • If you work at a sit-down desk, adjust the position of your keyboard so you don’t stretch too far forward and make sure your feet rest flat on the floor.
  • When sitting, sit up straight and maintain good posture.
  • When sleeping on your side, place a pillow between your knees, which reduces the pressure and stress on your spine.

More Significant or Chronic Back Pain

If these exercises and steps don’t alleviate your back pain, it may be time to see a doctor or physical therapist. They can assess if you would benefit from physical therapy or other type of intervention. Find a physical therapist near you to get started.

The material provided through HealthU is intended to be used as general information only and should not replace the advice of your physician. Always consult your physician for individual care.