In clinical practice, I always recommend 2 exercises for back pain. These work because they are safe, simple, require little to no instruction and get you moving so that you can learn to trust your body again.
We have to remember that pain exists as a signal to protect the body from harm. Unfortunately this signal can become dysregulated and cause discomfort even when the body is not at risk. In cases like this, it is up to us to re-establish movement within a controlled environment to help our body relearn that it is safe and stable in positions we exist in everyday and calibrate the pain response in a positive way.
There is a wide variety of ways to stay moving safely and keep your muscles activated, these are just my favorites:
1. Low intensity, gravity assisted cardiovascular exercise
Low intensity means at a low enough pace that you are able to maintain a conversation with someone without losing your breath, while gravity assisted refers to removing the impact of your body weight on your joints by using a bike, elliptical, rower or swimming in a pool.
The goal is to improve circulation of blood and lymph without placing any additional strain on your body. Consistent cardiovascular exercise has been shown to promote vascularization of the tissue, increasing the number of blood vessels in the tissue that bring in healing nutrients and help remove inflammatory waste products that contribute to the sensation of back pain.
2. Twenty Squats A Day
Squats not only engage your leg muscles, but also activate your core and your entire posterior chain that runs from your big toes to the top of your head. It is a movement most people perform everyday without thinking about it, such as standing up from a chair or getting out of a car.
The ability for the posterior chain to function is a significant determining factor when it comes to back pain and preventing injury. By performing 20 body weight squats in your per day in your pain free range of motion, your are activating the musculature that will help stabilize your back throughout the day, promoting blood flow to your low back and rebuilding trust in position you exist in everyday.
Most chiropractors, physiotherapists, massage therapists and personal trainers try to overcomplicate exercises for back pain by prescribing isolated movements that focus on the activation of specific muscles (and sometimes this is necessary!), but why not keep it simple? Start with the basics with exercises you can easily add to your daily routine and if the issue does not resolve, you are at least better than where you started and likely to respond to treatment much quicker!