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If you suffer from lower back pain, spinal decompression exercises or therapy could be the answer.
By performing some at-home exercises you can help to alleviate low back pain and improve poor posture.
What is Spinal Decompression ?
Spinal decompression is to release pressure to the nerves along the spinal cord. Depending on the cause and severity of the condition, it is achieved through various methods either surgical or non-surgical.
Compressed spinal discs can happen anywhere along the spine;
- The Cervical Spine (Upper Part)
- The Thoracic Spine (Middle Part)
- The Lumbar Spine (Lower Part)
Spinal compression to the discs can limit proper blood supply resulting in things such as neck pain and chronic back pain.
The most common causes of compression to the spinal column tend to be down to wear and tear as we age, this is known as osteoarthritis.
Degenerative discs usually effects people over the age of 50.
Other causes include the following:
- Thoracic Kyphosis – This results from bad posture or carry head loads on your back for extended periods.
- Spinal injury such as a herniated disc – This is when the intervertebral disk pops out from between the vertebrae (bones of the spine).
- Scoliosis – A sideways curve of the spine that can be genetic or results from those with other back problems.
- Degenerative disc disease – This affects older adults or people who regularly undertake heavy lifting.
Whilst you can make use of certain devices such as an inversion table or traction unit to decompress the spine, it’s not always necessary.
If the cause of your spinal compression is down to poor posture and these compressive forces are resulting in symptoms such as lower back pain, you could benefit from the simple exercises suggested in this article.
5 Spinal Decompression Exercises At Home
For back pain sufferers, the below spinal decompression exercises can be performed on a regular basis in the comfort of your home to help improve your range of motion and alleviate low back pain conditions such as sciatica.
However, do not attempt these movements if you have a spinal injury.
If you’re unsure, please seek medical advice from a physical therapist or other qualified professional.
Child’s pose is commonly used in yoga practice and is an effective way to increase blood flow and stretch out the lower back muscles.
You can modify this one slightly by placing your hands either more towards the left to for a right-side stretch, or hands to the right for a left side stretch.
- Begin on all fours with your hands under your shoulders and knees under your hips.
- Slowly sit back on to your feet whilst stretching your arms straight out in front of you with palms flat on the floor.
- Push back using your arms and drop your head between your shoulder blades, don’t look up.
- Hold this position for at least 30 seconds.
Sometimes called the cat-cow stretch, this is another low impact gentle stretch to alleviate pain to the lumbar area.
- Start this position the same as you would the child’s pose.
- From here, slowly start to tuck your head in towards your chest.
- At the same time, arch your back up towards the ceiling.
- Hold this position for a few seconds.
- Now reverse the movement by lowering your back down and raising your head back up.
- Your head should now be facing forwards with an arch to your lower back.
- Continue moving between these two position for 10 repetitions.
Seated Spinal Twist
One of the key stretches in yoga, when undertaken with proper form this exercise will help improve mobility to your spine and target the abdominal muscles.
- Start by sitting down with your legs stretched out in front of you.
- Bend your right leg and place the foot just on the outside of the left knee, ensure it’s flat on the ground.
- Place the hand of your right arm just behind you with palm resting on the floor. This will give you support.
- From here, take your left arm and place the elbow against the outside of the right knee.
- Hold this position and now turn your head to the right going as far as is comfortable.
This is a super easy and effective stretch which can perform several times a day if you wish.
You can either grab hold of a banister, kitchen work top or table depending on what’s easier.
Aside from stretching the back muscles, you will also feel a nice stretch to your hamstrings.
- Begin by standing in front of your banister around 1 foot away.
- Keeping your feet hip width apart, take hold of the banister with your hands shoulder width apart.
- With your legs straight throughout, push back your glutes so that your upper body begins to lower towards the floor.
- Go as low as you can, your upper body should be approximately parallel to the floor.
- Maintain this position for around 20-30 seconds.
Spinal Roll Down
If you spend much of your day sitting, this is a great movement to improve blood circulation, improve spinal mobility and to loosen up tight muscles.
Throughout this movement, don’t engage your arm muscles and simply allow them to hang down.
- Begin in a standing position with your feet around hip width apart.
- Slowly start to drop the neck and head down towards your chest.
- Continue so that your upper back starts to roll down.
- Keep moving so that your mid back and then your lower back begin to roll down.
- Movement should be very slow and deliberate. Go as low as you can.
- You should also feel a stretch to your hamstrings as well as your upper back.
- Hold for a few seconds and then roll back up by rotating your pelvis forwards.
The cobra pose is another yoga movement and a great way of opening up the lungs and alleviating low back pain.
It’s also reported to offer a number of psychological benefits such as calming the mind and reducing stress.
- Start by lying face down on an exercise mat. Your legs should be outstretched with the tops of your feet resting on the floor.
- Place your hands flat on the ground either side of you at around chest height.
- Push through your hands to raise your head and upper chest off the ground.
- Start to look up so that at the top of movement you are facing forwards.
- Straighten out as much as possible.
- You should feel a stretch across the upper chest and lower back.
Dead hangs is a body weight exercise where you can either use a pull-up bar or simply by grabbing hold of the top of a door frame.
If using a door frame, ensure it’s strong enough to support your body weight.
Aside from helping to decompress the spine, it can also help reduce shoulder pain and stretches out many muscles to the upper body.
- Take hold of the door frame or pull up bars so that your palms face away from you with hands around shoulder width apart.
- Raise your feet away from the ground so you are now hanging.
- Try and hold this position for 10 seconds.
- As you get stronger, you can aim to hold it for up to one minute.
Benefits of Spinal Decompression At Home Exercises
Performing some of the suggested spinal decompression exercises at home can offer a number of benefits including the following:
- Rehydrate spinal discs by drawing in more fluid.
- Improve flexibility to the spine.
- Improve spinal alignment and subsequently posture.
- Alleviate back pain.
- Reduces pressure to the discs.
- Increases range of motion.
When not caused by injury or other illness, spinal compression gradually increases over a person’s lifetime and can eventually impact the ability to perform daily activities.
Discs within the spine can become dehydrated as we age further exacerbating back problems.
However, with regular spinal decompression stretches and exercises you can improve the health of your back and improve your quality of life.