Best Exercises for Back Pain, Backache and Sore Backs

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The most common cause of back pain is inactivity, so it makes sense to rev up your exercise programme to deal with your sore back. But while pushing weights or hitting the road may drag you away from your desk (or the couch), they may actually make your back condition worse.

‘A lot of time during the day is spent in a seated position, causing inactivity of core- and abdominal muscles, while muscular-skeletal structures of the lower back, upper back and neck area are overburdened. Some of the most common consequences of this are a weakening of core muscles, the inwards rotation of shoulders and neck stiffness and weight and body fat gain,’ says EMS training expert, Gerry Gerhardt.

To get to the heart of your back pain, your initial training focus should be to strengthen your core and abdominal muscles, combined with the lower back area, and strengthen supporting muscles along the spine and the backside muscles of the shoulder girdle. Training activities that are helpful for treating back pain are swimming, pilates, whole-body EMS training and specific bodyweight and thera-band training.

When doing bodyweight training at home, some of the most effective exercises for back pain are:


Start by getting into a press-up position.

Bend your elbows at 90-degrees and rest your weight onto your forearms, not on your hands. Your body should form a straight line from shoulders to ankles, with your shoulders directly above your elbows.

Engage your core by sucking your belly button into your spine.

Keep your head and neck in a relaxed, neutral spinal posture with your eyes focused on the floor, at a spot between your forearms.

Hold this position for the prescribed time. Absolute beginners can start with 10 seconds or as long as they can hold it. Increase the time as you get stronger.

Side planks

Prop your upper body up on your left elbow and forearm.

Raise your hips until your body forms a straight line from your ankles to your shoulders.

Hold this position for 30 seconds.

Turn around so that you’re lying on your right side and repeat.

Mountain climbers

Assume a press-up position so your hands are directly under your chest at shoulder-width apart with straight arms.

Your body should form a straight line from your shoulders to your ankles.

Lift your right foot off the floor and slowly raise your knee as close to your chest as you can.

Return to the starting position and repeat with your left leg.

Continue alternating for the desired number of reps or time.

Bicycle crunches

Lying down on your back, bend your knees, with your feet firmly on the floor, hip-width apart, and your hands behind your head with your elbows pointing outwards.

Brace your abs and lift your legs 90-degrees off the floor, then lift your shoulders slightly off the floor into the crunch position.

Rotate your upper body, moving your right elbow and left knee toward each other whilst straightening your right leg and dropping it down until it is parallel with the floor, but hovering above it. Pause.

Return to starting position and switch over to bring the opposite elbow and knee together.

Move slowly, controlling each movement and focusing on engaging your core abdominal muscles to support your back and build core strength.

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