Simple Exercises For Upper And Middle Back Pain
Back pain can really put a damper on your day-to-day routine. Find out some common causes for upper and middle back pain and simple exercises that can help!
There are many causes of upper and middle back pain, and most of them are related to overuse or strain. Poor posture, overdoing it in the yard or lifting something too heavy for you can all put strain on your upper and middle back, causing injury and pain. For mild to moderate pain, these exercises can help give you some relief.
As always, talk to a doctor if your pain is severe or doesnt seem to be going away. If you have a serious injury, you may need to rest and recover before working on stretching and strengthening, and a physical therapist can be a big help. There are also rare cases where upper and middle back pain can signal something more serious, like gallbladder disease or even cancer, so definitely talk to a doctor if youre in pain for more than a couple of weeks.
Even with muscle strain, back pain can impact different people differently. Dont think of this list of exercises as a hard-and-fast routine. Instead, try these out, and cherry-pick the ones that work best for you. And if something hurts, back off or stop the exercise. You dont want to make your pain worse!
You May Like: How Do You Get Rid Of Back Pain
How Will My Body Change From Swimming
Swimming can help you lose weight by providing a cardiovascular workout and promoting water retention. Swimming is good for your strength and endurance because it builds muscle mass and reduces your risk of injuries while practicing other sports activities like running or biking.
Swimming is beneficial to your body in terms of toning as well as overall conditioning, especially if you do it regularly enough. Be careful not to swim after eating a big meal though this will only put extra pressure on your stomach muscles. Finally, remember that swimming is an excellent way to relax both mind and body after a long dayjust make sure you schedule some time for yourself once the pool closes up for the night.
What Are The Symptoms Of Lower Back Pain
Symptoms of lower back pain can come on suddenly or appear gradually. Sometimes, pain occurs after a specific event, such as bending to pick something up. Other times, you may not know what caused the pain.
Pain may be sharp or dull and achy, and it may radiate to your bottom or down the back of your legs . If you strain your back during an activity, you may hear a pop when it happened. Pain is often worse in certain positions and gets better when you lie down.
Other symptoms of lower back pain include:
- Stiffness: It may be tough to move or straighten your back. Getting up from a seated position may take a while, and you might feel like you need to walk or stretch to loosen up. You may notice decreased range of motion.
- Posture problems: Many people with back pain find it hard to stand up straight. You may stand crooked or bent, with your torso off to the side rather than aligned with your spine. Your lower back may look flat instead of curved.
- Muscle spasms: After a strain, muscles in the lower back can spasm or contract uncontrollably. Muscle spasms can cause extreme pain and make it difficult or impossible to stand, walk or move.
You May Like: What Can Be Causing My Lower Back Pain
When Surgery Is Necessary
When conservative treatment for low back pain does not provide relief or neurologic symptoms are worsening or severe, surgery may be needed. Candidates for surgery present any of the following:
- Reasonably good health
- Back and leg pain limits normal activity or impairs quality of life
- Progressive neurologic deficits develop, such as leg weakness, numbness or both
- Loss of normal bowel and bladder functions
- Difficulty standing or walking
- Medication and physical therapy are ineffective
If surgery is recommended, neurosurgeons have a variety of options available to help relieve pressure on the nerve roots. If several nerve roots and discs are causing the pain or if degeneration and instability exist in the spinal column, the neurosurgeon may choose: a minimally invasive approach a more open decompression or fusing the vertebrae together with bone grafts and stabilizing them with instrumentation, including metal plates, screws, rods and cages, depending on the extent of disease. After such surgery, patients may gain restored mobility in the back, including the ability to bend over. In addition, patients may require postoperative physical therapy.
The benefits of surgery should always be weighed carefully against the risks. Although a large percentage of patients with low back pain report significant pain relief after surgery, it is not guaranteed that surgery will help.
What Are The Warning Signs Of A Serious Problem
Very rarely back pain or pain that travels down the leg is a sign of a serious problem.
If you have any of the following symptoms, you should seek urgent medical attention:
- difficulty controlling or passing urine
- loss of control of your bowels
- numbness around your back passage or your genitals
- serious weakness in your legs so you find standing really difficult
- severe and ongoing back pain that gets worse over several weeks.
The above symptoms could potentially be linked to a rare but serious condition that needs urgent medical attention.
Don’t Miss: Why Does My Lower Back Hurt When I Sleep
Your Back Isnt The Problem
Heres the irony: In most cases, lower back pain isnt actually coming from the low back but an entirely different muscle.
But which one? Is it your abdominal core muscle, hamstring muscles, or tight muscles in general?
To be sure, the first thing we need to do is identify what is truly causing your low back pain. Im going to teach you how below.
But for my money, Im willing to bet that the gluteus medius could be the real cause of your back pain.
The glute medius is sandwiched between the glute maximus and minimus Its actually underneath the glute maximus.
It attaches on the inside of the bony area that is called the posterior superior iliac spine, or PSIS. This attachment point is going to make your job of pinpointing the pain a hell of a lot easier. More on this below.
The glute medius has two main functions:
The first is hip abduction, which means lifting your hip up, and out to the side.
The other thing thats even more important is that it keeps your pelvis level.
You can see this in action every time you lift one leg. Naturally, when you lift the leg, the entire body wants to fall in that direction.
But when your gluteus medius is working right and doing its job, the position of your pelvis level will stay stable.
When you have a weak or underactive gluteus medius, you can develop a postural gait called the Trendelenburg Gait.
This posture is when your hips drop on every step. You dont want that to happen!
The Problems With Self
Trying to correct your posture and misalignment without consulting a professional can pose a few problems. For example, you might be agitating your spine more than helping it. Yoga stretches done incorrectly can result in severe pain, and it can even worsen the symptoms.
Perhaps the biggest issue with self-treatment is that you cant correct what you cant detect. X-rays are designed for viewing the spine at every angle, but theres no telling what the problem is if you cant catch it in the first place.
We often treat ourselves by soothing the location of discomfort or pain. If you have sore shoulders, you might try to ice them to relieve the tension. While it might help initially, the source of the pain could come from several other locations, and thats only treating a symptom of an underlying issue.
A misalignment in the neck can cause pain in your shoulders, fingers, toes, and throughout your spine. If youre not feeling neck pain, how would you know its the primary source of the problem? The only real way to know is by getting a thorough examination and an X-ray, if necessary.
Although its not quite as common, some patients seriously injure themselves by trying various home treatments. Turning your neck the wrong way or stretching for too long can make everything much worse. You might even have to spend extra money to treat additional symptoms.
Don’t Miss: Why Does My Lower Back Hurt In The Morning
What Might Cause A Pinched Nerve In The Back
A pinched nerve in your back may seemingly appear out of nowhere, or it could be the result of a traumatic injury, such as a fall.
Youre more likely to experience symptoms if youre between ages 30 and 50. This is because your vertebrae compress with age, and the discs in your vertebrae degenerate over time.
Another common cause of a pinched nerve in the lower back is a herniated disc. You may experience this condition because of aging, a defect in your vertebrae, or wear-and-tear. Men ages 20 to 50 are at a higher risk of developing a herniated disc.
Other possible causes of a pinched nerve in the lower back include:
% Of People Will Experience Back Pain At Some Time But There Are Ways To Find Relief
As people enter middle age, they are more likely to experience bouts of low back pain. In fact, according to the Harvard Special Health Report Men’s Health: Fifty and Forward, back pain affects about four in five Americans at some point in their lives and equally strikes men and women.
Age is often the culprit. Over time, the bones and joints in your lower back begin to change. Your discs tend to wear out and sometimes become fragmented. These structural alterations sometimes cause pain.
Another cause of low back pain, although it occurs less often, is a herniated disc. Sometimes, a disc pushes outside the space between the bones and compresses a nerve at the point where it branches off the spinal cord. When the sciatic nerve that leads into the buttocks and leg is affected, the pain is called sciatica.
Yet, most cases of low back pain stem from strain or sprain due to simple overuse, unaccustomed activity, excessive lifting, or an accident. In most cases the best move is to wait and see if the pain resolves on its own. If the pain does not improve after three to four days, then it’s time to see a doctor.
However, depending on the source of your back pain and its severity, you might try a few home remedies for low back pain to help ease the pain until your back returns to normal. Here are several options to consider:
Complementary therapies. Several types of complementary therapy may be helpful for relief from low back pain. These include:
You May Like: How To Lay With Back Pain
Stretch #1 Knees To Chest
More than anything this stretch it to make sure you are in a position to move forward to more complex and intense movements. But it also allows an opportunity to get simple range of motion in the legs and pelvis to stretch the surrounding musculature.
Doing this exercise to fix lower back pain at home you will want to start with finding a comfortable place to lay down on your back.
Slowly bring your knees to your chest and grab the front of your knees with your hands pulling your legs closer to your body as able. You should feel a sensation in the glutes and hamstring as well as the lower back where you are experiencing pain.
Hold this stretch for 30 seconds, take a break, and then repeat to give your low back relief.
What Are The Causes Of Lower Back Pain
The vast majority of patients experience back pain because of mechanical reasons. They strain a muscle from heavy lifting or twisting, suffer a sudden jolt in a car accident, experience stress on spinal bones and tissues resulting in a , or suffer from osteoarthritis, a potentially painful degeneration of one or more spinal joints. Common causes for low back pain are:
- mechanical or functional injury
- active infection
To choose the safest and most effective therapy, doctors need to consider the full spectrum of possible underlying issues, such as inflammatory conditions, fracture, infection, as well as some serious conditions unrelated to the back that radiate pain to the back.
Don’t Miss: Do Pregnancy Pillows Help With Back Pain
What Are The Risk Factors For Developing Low Back Pain
Anyone can have back pain. Factors that can increase the risk for low back pain include:
Age: The first attack of low back pain typically occurs between the ages of 30 and 50, and back pain becomes more common with advancing age. Loss of bone strength from osteoporosis can lead to fractures, and at the same time, muscle elasticity and tone decrease. The intervertebral discs begin to lose fluid and flexibility with age, which decreases their ability to cushion the vertebrae. The risk of spinal stenosis also increases with age.
Fitness level: Back pain is more common among people who are not physically fit. Weak back and abdominal muscles may not properly support the spine. Weekend warriorspeople who go out and exercise a lot after being inactive all weekare more likely to suffer painful back injuries than people who make moderate physical activity a daily habit. Studies show that low-impact aerobic exercise can help maintain the integrity of intervertebral discs.
Weight gain: Being overweight, obese, or quickly gaining significant amounts of weight can put stress on the back and lead to low back pain.
Genetics: Some causes of back pain, such as ankylosing spondylitis , have a genetic component.
Smoking: It can restrict blood flow and oxygen to the discs, causing them to degenerate faster.
Backpack overload in children: A backpack overloaded with schoolbooks and supplies can strain the back and cause muscle fatigue.
Maintain Correct Posture When Sitting
You can avoid lower back pain by maintaining proper posture when sitting. If you have a desk job, keep your feet planted on the floor and use a chair that provides lower back support. Also, avoid hunching forward to see your computer screen and reaching far in front of you to use your mouse or keyboard.
Also Check: Does Drinking Water Help With Back Pain
How Is Lower Back Pain Diagnosed
Your provider will ask about your symptoms and do a physical exam. To check for broken bones or other damage, your provider may order imaging studies. These studies help your provider see clear pictures of your vertebrae, disks, muscles, ligaments and tendons.
Your provider may order:
- Spine X-ray, which uses radiation to produce images of bones.
- MRI, which uses a magnet and radio waves to create pictures of bones, muscles, tendons and other soft tissues.
- CT scan, which uses X-rays and a computer to create 3D images of bones and soft tissues.
Depending on the cause of pain, your provider may also order blood tests or urine tests. Blood tests can detect genetic markers for some conditions that cause back pain . Urine tests check for kidney stones, which cause pain in the flank .
Rolling Your Body Properly Reduces Torsional Strain On The Lumbar Spine
Proper swimming technique reduces the amount of torsional strain on your back. You should roll your body properly to reduce stress on the spinal cord and discs in your lower back.
When you swim, make sure that you keep a strong core and maintain good posture throughout the entire pool session. If pain persists after following these tips, see a doctor for further evaluation or treatment options specific to your situation..
Swimming can be an enjoyable activity if done correctly however, its important to take precautions to avoid injuring yourself down below.
You May Like: How Do You Know If Lower Back Pain Is Muscular
Stretch #5 Hip Flexor Stretch
Building off of the concept of posterior chain it is important to consider the anterior chain as well.
Deficits in strength and flexibility can lead to several issues and lower back pain is most commonly coupled with weak and tight hip flexors. The hip flexors are the iliacus and psoas muscles. They are primarily responsible for lifting the femur into flexion .
When the pelvis is tilted forward through sitting, poor exercise technique, etc. there is a higher likelihood that the hip flexors will be in a shortened position as they attach to the lower spine and inside of the pelvis.
Over time this can cause weakness and tightness and encourage lower back pain. Fixing this issue at home takes time, but can be done through a hip flexor stretch.
Kneeling on the ground with the front foot put far out in front of you lunge forward while keeping your trunk over your hips and head up. The stretch will occur in the front of the thigh and hip toward the medial part of the leg that you are kneeling on. Hold this stretch for 30 seconds breathing in and out then switch to the other leg.
Low Back Pain Surgery
Spine surgery is not necessary for most people who have lower back pain. If you do need it, your doctor will recommend an appropriate procedure to address your specific symptoms and medical situation. Common spine surgeries include:
. Two or more vertebrae are permanently fused together to limit excess spinal motion. Your surgeon will use a combination of bone, bonelike material, screws, plates and rods to hold the vertebrae together so they can heal into a single unit. Spinal fusion may be done to correct spinal deformities or to increase the spines stability in severe cases of spinal osteoarthritis or herniated discs.
. Laminectomy is a surgery in which your surgeon removes the back portion of one or more vertebrae to create more space for the spinal cord or other nerves. In people with severe arthritis, bone spurs within the spinal canal can grow large enough to press on the spinal cord, causing pain and limiting mobility. In a similar surgery known as laminotomy, your surgeon will remove a small piece of bone called the lamina from the back of the vertebra.
Also Check: Why Do We Get Back Pain