Good Stretches for Bad Backs
One of the best ways to prevent lower-back pain is to start stretching now, suggests Elliott Sterenfeld, M.D. Below are four basic moves to strengthen the abdominal, hip and lumbar muscles, which support the back. (Consult with a physician before starting any exercise program.) Work up to three sets for each move.
- Lie on your back, knees bent at about a 45-degree angle, feet flat on the floor. Place your right hand behind your right knee, then slowly raise that leg to your chest. Hold for 10 to 15 seconds. Slide left leg down on floor till straight; hold for 10 to 15 seconds. Slowly return to original position and repeat with opposite legs.
- Place both arms behind knees and pull legs to chest, keeping your lower back on the ground. Hold for 10 to 15 seconds, then release.
- Lying face down, place arms out to side, elbows bent 90 degrees, hands about even with your head, palms down. Inhale, then as you exhale, push up, raising your head and upper torso, arching back and looking toward ceiling. Feel the stretch all along the front of your body. Hold for five seconds, then inhale as you lower yourself.
- Cross hands in small of back, palms up, one on top of the other. Inhale, then as you exhale, arch your back and try to raise your chest off the floor. Hold for two seconds, then inhale as you lower. Repeat 10 times.