Just like reinforced steel can bear more weight than sheet aluminum, a strong, well-conditioned back can withstand more stress, and protect the spine better, than a back that has not been conditioned through exercise. Conditioning through flexibility and strengthening back exercises not only helps the back avoid injury, or minimize the severity of injury if the spine is traumatized, it also can help relieve the pain of many back conditions.
Many back exercises can help strengthen the spinal column and the supporting muscles, ligaments and tendons. Most of these back exercises focus not only on the back, but also the abdominal (stomach) muscles and gluteus (buttocks) and hip muscles. Taken together, these strong ‘core’ muscles can provide back pain relief because they provide strong support for the spine, keeping it in alignment and facilitating movements that extend or twist the spine.
Two of the most well-known back strengthening exercises are: McKenzie exercises and Dynamic Lumbar Stabilization. These back exercises are generally first learned by working with a physical therapist who can demonstrate the exercises and correct a patient’s form to ensure strengthening and/or back pain relief is achieved. Although McKenzie exercises and dynamic lumbar stabilization exercises tend to be used for specific conditions, the two forms of physical therapy exercise may also be combined when appropriate.
Core-strength exercises strengthen your core muscles, including your abdominal muscles, back muscles and the muscles around the pelvis. Strong core muscles make it easier to do many physical activities. You can do core-strength exercises on a carpeted floor or mat. Breathe freely and deeply during each core-strength exercise. Focus on tightening your transversus abdominis, the deepest abdominal muscle and the one you feel contracting when you cough.