Joint Mobility Exercises to Help Prevent Back Pain

Back pain is becoming increasingly common, which is why experts recommend practicing joint mobility exercises. These can help prevent or relieve discomfort.
Joint Mobility Exercises to Help Prevent Back Pain

Last update: 27 July, 2020

Back pain is very common for a large proportion of the population. Fortunately, in most cases, it’s the result of lifestyle habits. If this applies to you, there are several different mobility exercises you can use to alleviate or prevent this kind of pain.

While some exercises focus on stretching, others focus on building strength. The third group focuses on increasing mobility. In this article, we’re going to be focusing on this final category. These exercises can help to prevent back pain from affecting your everyday life.

Joint mobility exercises to stretch your neck

Let’s start with the uppermost part of the back. Increasing mobility in the cervical spine is essential for preventing all kinds of back pain.

There are three simple exercises you can use to increase mobility in this area: turning your head from side to side, looking up and down, and tilting your head from one side to the other. These three exercises must be done in a slow and controlled manner, utilizing a wide range of movements, and holding the final pose for several seconds.

Joint mobility exercises - stretching your neck.

Mobility exercises  – the cat-camel stretch

For this classic mobility and stretching exercise, we’ll be starting with the quadriceps. Get on all fours, with your knees and the palms of your hands flat on the ground. The aim is to push your back to two extremes: maximum flexion, and maximum extension.

The first step is to bring your chin to your chest, pushing your dorsal spine upwards at the shoulder blades. You’ll also need to tilt your pelvis, bringing your hips forward to engage your lumbar spine. This pose should be held for five seconds.

Cat pose.

Return to the starting position before attempting the next pose. Start with your head up, then lower your back so that it’s level with your shoulder blades, before tilting your pelvis to move your hips backward.

Camel pose.

Once you’ve achieved good spinal extension, hold this pose for around five seconds. Finally, relax, and return to the starting position.

Spine mobilization – seated position

This is a simple exercise that will allow you to increase your mobility in three different ways and all from a seated position! While doing these stretches, it’s important to sit properly, keeping your back straight and breathing in a deep, even rhythm.

Let’s start with a spinal stretch. Put your hands behind your neck, and lean forward as far as you can, keeping your elbows together. Next, return to the starting position and stretch your back, leaning backward and stretching your elbows outwards.

Joint mobility exercises to stretch your back.

The next step is to rotate your spine. Once again, start with your hands behind your neck. Release one hand and stretch it forward, while rotating the opposite side of your body, ie. if you stretch your left arm forward, you’ll need to rotate your right side backward. Then, repeat this movement on the opposite side, and return to the starting position.

Using a tennis ball to increase joint mobility

For this exercise, we’ll mainly be working on increasing mobility in your hips. First, lie face up and place a small, soft tennis ball under your back, in the lumbar region (your lower back).

Here, you should notice how, with small movements of the pelvis and back, you can start to move your lower back around the ball. In order to move the ball up your back and toward your head, you’ll need to use pelvic anteversion and retroversion. If you want to move the ball from one side to the other, you’ll need to use a combination of the two.

A tennis ball can be a great way to relieve back pain.

As well as being a great exercise for increasing mobility, the tennis ball should help to lightly massage your entire lower back. It’s often best to do these exercises with your eyes closed, to block out any external stimuli and focus entirely on the feeling of the ball moving beneath your spine.

Exercise: the best way to prevent back pain

In many cases, the best way to prevent back pain is to perform various exercises. Generally speaking, surgical solutions should be avoided, if at all possible. This is exactly what these exercises aim to achieve. You shouldn’t have to force your back to get used to staying in uncomfortable positions all day long.

These exercises will help to maintain and increase mobility, as well as increasing proprioception, and helping to reduce pressure on complex structures such as the vertebrae, muscles, and ligaments in your back. They can also help you to relax. In short, keep moving, try to relax, and be consistent, and you’ll be able to drastically improve your quality of life.

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  • Margareta Nordin, Federico Balagué, Christine Cedraschi. Nonspecific Lower-back Pain: Surgical versus Nonsurgical Treatment. Clinical Orthopaedics and Related Research. Volume 443 – Issue – p 156-167. 2006.