Health / Mobility

3 Gentle Exercises to Help Recover from a Back Injury

One of the best things you can do for your back is to engage in exercises that will help you recover.

Back injuries can unfortunately be common. There are many reasons, but back injuries can be caused by incorrect form and/or technique during exercise, such as to a muscle or ligament, poor posture, or even just by regularly sleeping on an unsupportive bed. Because your back is used in basically every movement including twisting and bending, a back injury is something that can really disrupt your day-to-day life.

While healing a back injury can take some time, with the right rehabilitation plan, you can definitely speed up the process and make easing back into exercise more efficient.

If you’re experiencing a back injury, then it’s recommended that you stay active. This means keeping it moving as much as possible without hurting yourself. You want to reduce muscle stiffness which can make the injury more painful and slow down the rehabilitation process.

That being said, take the time it needs to completely heal. Trying to rush the process is tempting, however by doing so, you can cause rehabilitation to take longer than necessary.

We’ll run you through 3 exercises that can help a back injury. However, please consult a professional doctor or physiotherapist who can evaluate and treat you to your specific needs. And when performing these exercises, only do so within reason. If it becomes painful, stop immediately.

1. Singled-legged knees-to-chest stretch

This is a low-impact stretch that’ll gently stretch the back and reduce muscle stiffness.

  1. Begin by lying on your back, facing upwards. Keep your feet stretched out and your arms resting by your side.
  2. Bring your right leg up, bending at the knee. Grab it with both hands, interlacing your fingers behind the knee.
  3. Guide your knee towards your chest, pulling with your hands until you feel a gently stretch. Keep your other leg straight and relaxed.
  4. Hold this pose for 10-20 seconds.
  5. Lightly return your leg to the ground.
  6. Repeat on the other side.

If you’ve performed the single-leg version, then there’s an option to do an advanced two-legged version.

In this case, after bringing your right knee up in step 2, immediately bring the left one up as well. Grab each leg with one hand each, ensuring you have a firm grip behind the knee of each leg. Then, pull them towards your body. Breathe deeply and then gently release both legs, one at a time, to return to the starting position.

2. Supine spinal twist

This back injury exercise will stretch the back and get some movement in. By doing it, it’ll aid in regaining some of your spine’s range of motion.

  1. Lie on your back on a yoga mat with your legs extended straight out and arms by your side.
  2. Bend your right knee up to create a 90-degree angle in the air. Exhale and keep your shoulders on the floor.
  3. Slowly bring it across to the left side of your body towards the floor. This will twist your spine and lower back. Let gravity do the work and let your knee fall as far as it naturally can without pain. Don’t forcefully push it down.
  4. Turn your head to look in the opposite direction of the twist. However, you can also remain to look up at the ceiling and keep your neck straight if that feels more comfortable
  5. Take slow, deep breaths. Hold this pose for 30-60 seconds.
  6. Bring your knee back to your midline before extending it out again to recreate your starting position. 
  7. Repeat on the other side.

3. Cobra pose

This popular yoga pose facilitates stretching not only your back muscles but also your upper body such as shoulders and arms. It also opens up the chest and teaches you how to engage your core muscles properly, which will help reduce the risk of a future back injury.

  1. Begin by lying down on a yoga mat, face down. Keep your feet hip-distance apart and press your hands firmly beneath the shoulder blades withy your elbows bent.
  2. Push gently through the hands and lift your upper body off the ground by curving your spine. Try not to put all your weight on your hands as you want to get that stretch in the back.
  3. Continue pressing up as far as your body and back injury allows you to go. 
  4. Keep your neck long and maintain the pose for 10 seconds, breathing in and out slowly.
  5. Lower yourself back down on the mat gently.
  6. Repeat.
Fitness Mobility


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