Back pain seems to be the great equalizer.
Believe it or not, 85% of North Americans suffer from some type of back pain. That’s an overwhelming majority.
Desk jobs, lots of time spent on work commutes, and poor sitting and standing postures no doubt contribute to pain that can make the activities of daily living become difficult.
To help keep your spine limber and strong, we’ve put together a list of the best exercises for back pain. These moves require little to no equipment, except a comfortable surface, and that’s where our Premium Extra Large Yoga Mat comes in!
This move is actually a combination of two gentle stretches for the spine. They’re so good for helping release tense back muscles, that many midwives recommend that their pregnant patients do them in order to prepare their bodies for labor and delivery.
Start out on your mat on all fours - knees under hips and wrists under shoulders. Take a deep breath in and exhale as you round your spine, zipping your abs up and in. Hold for three seconds, then release, arching your back into cow and looking up towards the ceiling. Inhale. Repeat.
This exercise can be done as a static hold or as a more dynamic move. Try performing this move at different tempos to challenge your core.
Start on all fours with a neutral spine. Raise your right arm and left leg to parallel with the floor. Pause for two seconds. Slowly lower back to the start and repeat for the desired number of reps. Then repeat on your left arm and right leg.
Make it Easier: Lift only your arm, then lower. Then lift only your leg and lower.
Make it Harder: Lift and hold your opposite arm and leg and hold for five seconds, then lower them to the floor.
Start out on all fours again.
Sit your hips back towards your heels, bringing your chest towards your mat, with your arms reaching out in front of you.
Stay in this stretch for 30 seconds to one minute. Breathe and allow your head, neck, and shoulders to melt into your mat.
This variation on the Birddog exercise we mentioned above adds a little more ab work and provides a little extra challenge when it comes to balance.
Start out on all fours, the same as you would for a regular Birddog.
Draw your right knee and your left elbow towards each other, bringing them as close to touching as possible. Exhale during this part of the exercise.
Inhale and extend your arm and leg, lengthening them as far from you as possible. Repeat all of your reps on the same sides, then switch.
Make it Easier: Bring your elbow and knee towards each other, but don’t allow them to touch.
Make it Harder: Extend your arm and leg and pulse them up and down for two counts.
This move uses one of the most popular pieces of home workout equipment (next to your Gorilla Mat of course). Just make sure you’re near a sturdy piece of furniture or a wall for this move.
Place your ball about two feet from a wall, so that your feet are anchored on your couch or a wall, and your torso is resting, face down, on the ball.
Relax until you are resting face down on the ball. With your feet anchored against a sturdy object, lift your torso until your head is in line with your hips and knees.
Slowly lower back down to resting position. Repeat for your desired number of repetitions.
Dealing with poor posture and shoulder blade discomfort? Weak lats and rhomboids (upper back muscles) may be the culprit.
The good news is that this simple exercise may both improve your posture and help with that discomfort, which is often caused by muscle imbalances that happen when overused pecs are much stronger than your upper back muscles.
Sit on your Gorilla Mat. Loop a medium or heavy resistance band around your feet. If you’d like more resistance, loop the band around your feet a couple of times.
Keeping your elbows close to your ribcage, extend your arms out in front of you. Keeping your elbows down and back, bend them as you pull the resistance band closer to you.
Hold for one count as you squeeze your shoulder blades, then release your arms back to start.
Keep the movement only in your arms and keep your core tight.
This is a classic exercise that is suitable for almost anyone. Just be sure not to overextend your range of motion and keep your abs tight throughout the movement.
Lie on your stomach. Draw your abs together, and exhale as you lift your right arm and your left leg off the floor. Lower them back towards your mat. Alternate on the opposite side.
Repeat until you’ve completed the number of reps you want.
This won’t be a big movement. You should also keep your neck looking down at your mat to prevent straining it.
Make it Easier: Lift only one arm or leg at a time.
Make it Harder: Flutter your arms and legs quickly so that they hover off of your mat. (Think of trying to swim quickly.)
Don’t forget your mask and cape! This simple yet challenging exercise is more suitable for those intermediate to advanced exercisers who want to take the previously mentioned exercise to the next level.
Lie on your stomach on your mat.
Lift both of your arms and both of your legs off the floor at once. Hold for two counts, then lower back to start. Repeat.
Make it tougher: Hold the end of a resistance band in each hand. Pull it tight enough so that you feel some tension as you lift your arms.
So there you have it! Here are some simple, yet super effective back exercises that will help you improve your range of motion and possibly help you with your back pain.
Just add a couple of these moves to the end of your workout, or do them on their own.
The perfect accessory for this workout is our Extra Large Premium Yoga Mat. Grab yours today!