Do it Yourself Back Pain and Neck Pain Exercises
Back injuries are a pretty common occurrence. Just about everyone hurts their back to some degree and probably more than once in their lifetime. Most of these injuries can be treated with some common-sense first aid that you can do yourself. There is also a lot of benefit to exercises and stretches to relieve back and neck pain as well as keep it from occurring in the first place.
Sometimes it doesn’t take much to injure your back. Lifting heavy objects using the wrong technique like using your back to lift rather than your legs is pretty common. Stepping off a curb awkwardly can sprain or strain the lower back and falling can certainly cause back injuries. Often we can even wake up in the morning with a painful back and not even know what caused it. See the chapter called What Causes Back and Neck Pain to get an idea of what may have happened to cause you pain.
Luckily, there are ways that we can treat ourselves that will normally help the back pain go away and the injury to heal itself. Just keep in mind that it could take a few weeks before you feel normal again. Here are some good first aid remedies for an injured back.
1. If you have just done something to injure your back or have a sudden onset of pain, the first thing to remember is to focus on your breathing and keep it regular. Steady, controlled breathing is one of the best pain relievers there is because it takes your attention away from the pain in order to concentrate on your breathing technique.
The breathing technique sometimes works better if you lay on the floor with your lower legs propped up on a chair, pillows, or footstool. You can also lie on your side in bed in the fetal position. Either position will take the strain off of your lower back.
Repeat the process of breathing while resting your back on and off throughout the day.
2. Don’t be one of those people that “bites the bullet” and tries to ride out the pain. Taking pain relieving anti-inflammatory medication will speed up the healing process. Typically, most people have some brand of aspirin, ibuprofen, or acetaminophen on hand at home. Ibuprofen is generally considered the best choice because it has both pain relievers and anti-inflammatory ingredients.
If you take the ibuprofen for 10 days but you still have severe pain, it’s best to see your doctor for safe prescription medications.
3. Bed rest is always a good option, depending on how serious and painful the back injury is. When an injury occurs, you should spend most of that first day resting as quietly as possible in the position that is the most comfortable for your back. The best positions are the two described above that are used when doing your controlled breathing. When lying on your side in the fetal position, placing a pillow between your knees will help you be more comfortable.
You should not stay completely inactive. Get up every hour or two and walk around. Arch your back. This prepares your body for activity. While you are up, perform some light stretches such as pulling your one knee up toward your chest, and then the other. See the chapter called Exercises to Relieve Back and Neck Pain for more suggestions.
4. During the first one to two days after the initial injury, you should apply ice to the injured area. Do this two to three times a day for fifteen minutes each time. This will help reduce inflammation. Fifteen minutes is the optimal amount of time and anything longer than that is not necessary.
After the first 24 hours, apply moist heat by taking a hot shower or using a heating pad for thirty minutes at a time. You can do this as often as you like.
After 48 hours, alternate heat and ice. Heat is best applied in the morning and before any activity. Then apply the ice after the activity or before going to bed.
Exercise can help tremendously with back and neck pain when you have an injury. But it is important that you are doing the right kind of exercise and not overdoing it. If any of the exercises discussed in the next chapter increase your pain or make the pain move down towards the feet, stop immediately.
There are also certain exercises you should avoid if you have back pain:
Both straight leg and bent leg sit-ups.
Leg lifts while lying on your back
Lifting weights above the waist, like bicep curls or the military press
Touching the toes while standing
Stretching while your legs are in a “V” position rather than straight.
Read on for examples of the types of exercises that are good for your back and neck pain.
Exercises for Back and Neck Pain
There are several types of exercise regimens that are great for the back. Yoga has long been touted for the way it improves flexibility and strengthens muscles. Core strengthening is often recommended for people with back and neck problems. Core programs concentrate on the muscles of the back and abdomen to improve alignment and posture as well as strengthening muscles.
Here are some good general stretches to help relieve back pain. When it comes to back pain, stretches are considered the best exercise. Remember; always stop if the exercise is causing additional pain.
Lying face down, place your hands by your shoulders.
Use your elbows to prop yourself up while leaving the bottom half of your body relaxed.
Hold this for 10 to 30 seconds and keep your hips pressed to the floor.
Repeat this 3 to 10 times.
This is a great exercise to stretch the lower back while only gently moving your spine.
Lie on your back and bend your knees so that your feet are flat against the floor.
Slowly pull your stomach in so that your lower back presses against the floor.
Hold for about 10 seconds and then slowly relax your stomach.
Repeat this 3 to 10 times.
KNEE TO CHEST
This exercise stretches the lower back as well as your hamstring muscles. It also takes the pressure off the facets in your spine. See the chapter called Understanding How Your Spine Works to find out more about the facets.
Lie on your back and bend your knees so that your feet are flat against the floor and close to your buttocks.
Bring one of your knees to your chest, leaving the other foot on the floor. You may also leave the other leg straight if that is more comfortable for your back.
Hold the knee at your chest for 5 to 10 seconds.
Change to the other knee.
Repeat 3 to 10 times.
Neck Exercisesgirl with neck pain
There are many good exercises that help with neck pain. When doing any neck exercise, be sure to make your movements slow and easy. Keep your jaw and mouth relaxed and hold your shoulders back and down to keep them relaxed as well. Here are just a few examples.
Lie flat with a pillow under your head.
Gently nod your head forward. Stop this motion right before the muscles in the front of your neck begin to harden.
Hold in position for five seconds and then relax.
Repeat this up to 10 times.
Lie flat with a pillow under your head.
Turn your head side to side gently. With each turn, move your head enough to align your chin with your shoulder.
Repeat 10 times on each side.
Sit tall and straight in a chair with your arms at your sides.
Gently pull your head back horizontally. Keep your nose pointed straight ahead. You should be able to feel the retraction at the base of your neck.
Repeat this 10 times every hour.
While sitting with the correct posture as described above, tilt your head towards your shoulder until you feel the stretch the side of your neck.
Repeat this to each side 10 times.
Exercise during Work or Playsitting back pain
If you are prone to back issues or even if you are determined to avoid having them, there are certain exercises and stretches you can do anywhere that just take a few minutes of your time.
This is particularly good for those of us who sit hunched over a computer all day. This extension counteracts that humped position.
Stand upright but relaxed with your feet parallel and your arms and your sides.
Reach your arms out to the side and then raise them over your head and touch your palms together. Keep your elbows straight but not locked.
Bend your head slightly back when you do this to work the muscles in the back and neck.
Hold for 5 to 30 seconds.
Be sure to inhale and exhale as you do this and any exercise.
You can even do this exercise while sitting at your desk.
This is also excellent for anyone who spends time at a desk and can be done anywhere there is a chair.
Sit in the chair with your arms at your sides.
Pull your stomach in towards your back.
Relax your hips fold your upper body forward over your legs, with your hands reaching towards the floor.
Hold this for 5-30 seconds.
This can be done wherever two walls come together to form a corner. If you are at work and want privacy, the restroom is a perfect place.
· Rest your forearms and the palms of your hands on opposite walls of the corner, about shoulder level.
· Lean in towards the wall until you feel the stretch in your back.
· Hold for 5-to 30 seconds.
Just think of this exercise as doing pushups off the wall instead of the floor.
To learn more about relieving back and neck pain fast