Everyday Fitness for a Pain Free Back

More often than not I meet people who tell me they have slowed down on their fitness regime due to lower back pain. A squat is the most essential, foundational movement and there are people who have limited functionality in this movement due to a spine disorder. Our bodies have been designed to hinge and there are people who are scared to get into that position as it might worsen the pain. Wondering why? Lack of spine hygiene, that’s why!

When is the spine loaded?

The answer is, almost always; especially the lumbar region. If you are sitting long hours, driving long distances, lifting weights, walking or playing a sport, to name a few, your lower spine ends up taking a lot of load-supporting activities demanded by general life and sport. And because the spine is doing so much work, it goes through the general process of wear and tear resulting in never-ending pain.

How can you prevent it?

The key is to exercise, and often! There are exercises that can help create a protective sheath around your spine if done regularly and can do wonders for your spine health. Here are a bunch of them. Give it a try and do it regularly and notice the change in your spine.


(4–5 reps on each side * 20–30 sec. hold on each rep)

  • Lie down on your back, arms on the side
  • Flex your knees and bring them to 90 degrees
  • Stiffen the ab muscles, try to build contact between the lumbar spine and the floor
  • Extend one leg and the opposite arm at the same time, hold and alternate with the other side for prescribed rep count

Bird Dog

(4–5 reps on each side * 20–30 sec. hold on each rep)

  • Get down on all 4’s (knees on the ground)
  • Stiffen the ab region and outstretch the opposite arm and leg reaching away from the body
  • Hold for 10 seconds, bring the elbow closer the knee and outstretch again

Side Plank

(30 seconds/ side)

  • Lie down on one side supported by the elbow, hip and outer leg
  • Press the hips up off the ground
  • Hold and switch after 30 seconds

Hip Hinges

This is undoubtedly a spine sparing movement pattern which needs to be incorporated in everyone’s daily life. If this is practised consistently, can potentially prevent lower back injuries and pain. Mostly back pain does not happen due to one bad lift or so, it’s a result of years of bad posture while sitting or lifting anything off the ground no matter how heavy or light.

  • Bend at the hips (without rounding the spine)
  • Soften your knee by bending it slightly
  • Keep your Torso slightly above parallel to the floor and a hip joint angle closer to 90 degrees
  • Maintain a neutral spine (natural curvature maintained)

Walk: Our lumbar spine takes all the load while we are seated and due to the work profile we end up spending a lot of time in that position. It’s generally a good practice to walk 3 minutes for every 30 minutes of being seated. If you can discipline yourself to do that, it will help in giving recovery time to the spine and have positive effects on metabolic factors aiding more fat loss.

There are of course other exercises that can help reduce back pain or prevent it from happening. These ones specifically have worked wonders for me personally and many other athletes I know. If you are doing The Big 3’s on a consistent basis coupled with better hinge pattern and conscious frequent walks, I am quite sure you will be less likely to develop risks of future disorders, beyond that you will be able to develop better athleticism in general life and sport.

However, if you are already facing lower back pain, I strongly suggest you meet a doctor for a detailed examination and solutions on how to cope with it.

Rishabh Telang

Mar 4, 2020

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