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Millions of Indians experience back pain at certain times. Some experts say that bulging discs and disc herniations are the most common reasons that cause lower back pain. There is a common myth that stretching helps relieve pain associated with a herniated disc. In fact, most doctors actually advise stretching the back muscles in order to alleviate symptoms. Oftentimes, stretching can aggravate the back problem, because it puts your lower back in the flexion position (bending forward), and for individuals who can’t endure flexion movements, it only worsens their back pain.

The question is which type of exercise is best for the rehabilitation of back injuries. Let’s discuss specific exercises, to begin with! Unfortunately, there is no “one size fits all” in terms of core exercises, as no single movement can simultaneously work all of the muscles around your spine equally. In order to effectively work for all people, it is advised to practise a regimen of exercises.

After studying thoroughly about the spine, Pioneer in Back Rehabilitation, Mr Sturart Mc gill has  come up with three specific exercises that can effectively target all of the key areas without placing too much stress on the parts of the spine that may be aggravated or irritated.

The three exercises mentioned below are popular and effective for back pain which is known as ‘The Big 3 by McGill.’

  • Curl-Up
  • Side Plank
  • Bird-Dog

The Curl-up Exercise

Step 1

You should lie on your back and bend one of your knees, leaving the other leg extended.

Step 2

Maintain the natural arch of your spine by placing your hands under your lower back.

Step 3

Lift your chest, shoulders and head together off the ground, as if they were all locked. Lift them together as a single unit. Your back should remain neutral. Your chin shouldn’t tuck in, and your head shouldn’t tilt back either. Stay in this position for 10sec.

Step 4

Lower yourself slowly. Your left leg should be bent for one-half of the repetitions and your right leg in the other half.

The Side Bridge

Step 1

Lie to one of your sides on your forearm and ensure that your elbow is below your shoulder. 

Stabilize your torso by placing your other hand on your opposite shoulder. Reposition your feet so that your knees should be at a 90° angle.

Step 2

Raise your hips off the ground and stay in this position for 10sec. Ensure that your head, hips and knees are in a straight line as much as possible. Switch sides once you have completed this step.

Optional: Straighten your legs rather than bending them for a greater challenge.

The Bird Dog

Step 1

Put yourself in the ‘All 4’s’ position (quadruped) and align your back in a neutral position. Remember ‘neutral’ means not completely flat, a very slight arch position.

Step 2

Now extend your left arm out straight and at the same time straighten your right leg backwards, so that both limbs are parallel to the floor. Ensure hips and torso are in the same alignment and are not out of alignment. Stay in this position for 10sec. Repeat the same exercise with the right arm and left leg.

The exercises provide a pain-free foundation that allows you to increase your activities. It is important to exercise for a healthy back, but it is also essential to address the underlying cause of back pain in the first place. Whether it is tissue damage or a herniated disc or any other problem that leads to back pain should be treated. 

To know more details about the exercise and other strategies to alleviate back pain consult Dr. Surya Prakash, Consultant Spine Surgeon at Maxcure Hospitals, Hyderabad. He has more than 25 years of experience in treating various kinds of spine problems especially back pain. Call +91 9848024699 to book an appointment.


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