What makes our back strong? These three simple exercises and training tips help combat tension and back pain.
Pain in your lower back, neck and in between your shoulder blades: back pain is one of the most common physical complaints. Every second person suffers regularly from it, as shown in the 2020 Back Report by Rheumaliga Schweiz. What can you do about it?
These three activities can help a lot: exercising, strengthening and relaxing.
Your back loves movement – preferably different types. Sitting down for too long, weak muscles and strain can lead to tension and back problems.
Depending on your job or specific task, your body experiences one-sided strain. This is why it’s important to do lots of different exercises to reduce pressure on your spine: through stretches, endurance sports and strength training.
Yoga and Pilates are a good addition to classic back exercises. They strengthen the abdominal and core muscles and stretch the muscles of our entire musculoskeletal system.
A strong back protects you from tension, pain, and from wear and tear of the joints and bones. It also reduces the risk of injuries. A strong core means we are more flexible, our movements are more dynamic and we have a healthy posture. The spine and organs are better protected. Tendons, ligaments, cartilage and even connective tissue benefit from back exercises. And last but not least, muscle training has a pure anti-ageing effect, as it stops age-related muscle degeneration,which is why strength training is always worth it. Plus, it is never too late to start!
You don’t need complicated equipment or a gym: a mat is enough to keep your back flexible and as free from pain as possible.
Tip: warm up your muscles before strength training: do star jumps, skip or jog on the spot for one minute. Stretching also prepares the muscles. Do the abdominal and back exercises slowly, and avoid any sudden movements.
This strengthens your entire core:
Support yourself on your forearms and toes and make a straight line from your head to your toes, looking down at the floor. Create tension: tense your buttocks, draw your navel in.
Hold this position, without letting your hips sag, for around 30 to 60 seconds.
Strong spinal erectors ensure more stability and flexibility:
Lying on your stomach, lift up your head and extended arms, and look down at the floor. Now draw your elbows backwards until your hands are at the same level as your chest, and repeat 10 times.
For your rectus abdominis and oblique muscles:
Bend one knee, and press your arm lightly against it. Extend the other leg and the other arm out, without touching the floor. Keep your abdominal muscles tensed. Change side, repeat 10 times. The lower back always should always be touching the floor.
The Helsana Coach app helps you to achieve your health goals. In the free app, you can find numerous back exercises with video instructions, as well as stretching exercises and yoga specifically for the back. Download now!
Permanent tension is not good for your back. Constant stress causes us to tense our entire body, which is why it’s important to make sure you take regular breaks in day-to-day work and allow yourself time to do your favourite activities.
Doing at least two sessions of muscle-strengthening activities a week is recommended. It’s best to incorporate back exercises into your training programme. Ideally, it would contain the following sessions:
Even in the case of acute back pain, exercise is generally better than doing nothing. Bed rest can make the pain worse.
Our health consultation advisors will show you how to relieve back pain. Together, they’ll help you find out what the cause of your pain is.
Give your back time. However, if your back pain lasts longer than four weeks or if you have any other symptoms, you should consult a medical professional to get to the bottom if it, as back pain can have a wide variety of causes.
Are you already getting treatment for back pain? Then please talk to your doctor or therapist. A therapy tailored to you and an individual training plan are important.
Evelyne Dürr (Msc in Human Movement Sciences, ETH; CAS workplace health promotion) joined Helsana in 2014. As a health management specialist, she helps customers engage with prevention and health promotion. Evelyne Dürr gave the editorial team advice and input for this article.