Best Exercises for Back Pain and Sciatica
Everyone is likely to experience back or sciatica pain at some point throughout their life. Back pain can make it very difficult to go about life as usual and many patients ask us how they can cure their pain quickly. The majority of the time, our back pain is not due to structural issues like a fracture or trauma. In these situations, it is possible to manage and alleviate your pain using conservative measures like heat, self-myofascial release, or exercise and stretches. It is important to not only cure your pain, but just as important to prevent future back pain. Incorporating certain stretches and exercises into your lifestyle can take just a few minutes and can help you avoid a significant number of unnecessary surgeries and medications for your back pain.
While this seems counterintuitive, exercise is beneficial for relieving pain. Regular physical exercise has long been shown to be anti-inflammatory in nature. Epidemiological studies have shown that physical inactivity is associated with systemic low-grade inflammation and that physical activity and fitness are associated with a reduction in inflammatory biomarkers known as cytokines.
Dr. DeCaria, of Revitalize Medical Center in Glenview and Evanston, IL, is a double-board certified physician in pain management/anesthesia who has alleviated back pain for countless patients across the greater Chicagoland area. Dr. DeCaria takes a holistic approach to address all aspects of one’s pain to treat the root cause and restore wellness. Below are some of her top exercise suggestions to help alleviate your back pain.
Disclaimer: Do not perform any of these exercises without first consulting with your doctor or physical therapist. Do not perform these exercises if your back pain is associated with a trauma, numbness or tingling down the arms or legs, weakness, changes in bowel or bladder habits, fever, or other neurological signs. If performing any of these stretches or exercises hurts, discuss with your doctor.
Daily Stretches or Exercises:
1: Child’s Pose
- Kneel on your hands and knees.
- Shift your hips back until your belly rests on your legs and your forehead comes to the ground (use a small towel roll to support your head if needed), arms outstretched above you, palms on the floor.
- Rest here for 30 seconds.
- Then walk your arms to the right, to stretch the left side of your back, moving only your upper body. Hold for 30–60 seconds. Then repeat to the left.
2: Crescent Moon Pose
- Inhale while reaching your arms over your head, taking hold of your right wrist in your left hand.
- Exhale while leaning to the left and shifting your hips to the right to lengthen the right side of your body.
- Make sure you keep steady pressure through your feet into the floor and engage your glutes to help support you in this stretch.
- Hold for 1 minute. Then relax on an inhale back to the starting position.
- Repeat on the other side.
- Hold for 1 minute. Repeat 2 more times for a total of 3 times a day.
3: Marching Test: demonstration here
This is a core strengthening exercise. As an exercise, while doing the march, hold one leg up for one to two seconds, then lower it slowly, and repeat on the other side.
4: Bent Knee Fall Out
- Take a deep breath in.
- As you exhale, draw your belly button back toward your spine and allow your right knee to fall gently to the side.
- On inhale, lift the right knee back up to center.
- Repeat 10 times for three sets (thirty total marches per leg).
- As you get stronger, you can alternate legs—one knee out to right, followed by left as one cycle. Do 10 on each side.
Alternative methods like exercise and stretching can help relieve your back pain, however further complementary and conventional treatments may be needed. As a double-board certified integrative pain doctor, Dr. DeCaria can provide you with a wide variety of alternatives to surgery that are non-invasive and effective for many patients suffering from back pain. Some of these treatments for back pain include trigger-point injections, corticosteroid injections into the facet joints, nerve blocks, and epidurals, in addition to various lifestyle suggestions. She will design a personalized treatment plan while working closely with you and your other healthcare providers to achieve optimal results. Come visit either our Glenview, IL or Evanston, IL clinic today!
Please remember to discuss with your physician prior to starting any supplement, as they may interact with your current medications or other medical conditions. Specific supplement dosages should be determined by your doctor. This page (including all links and blog posts) is not intended to replace the services of a physician, nor does it constitute a doctor-patient relationship. Information is provided for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice. You should not use the information on this website for diagnosing or treating a medical or health condition. To schedule an appointment at Revitalize Medical Center, please call (847) 834-4018.