People can get stiff and achy backs during the day from sitting too long, hunching forward in awkward positions or because they aren’t using furniture conducive to back comfort. Your pain may also stem from an imbalance of strength between your lower, middle and upper back muscles. Whatever the case, the best way to alleviate back pain or stiffness is to take periodic breaks during the day. In addition, try performing some of the following exercises to strengthen your back muscles.
1- Back Press to Floor
Most back pain occurs in the lower back. In fact, 80 percent of all adults experience some type of lower back pain in their lives, according to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and stroke. One great exercise to strengthen the lower back is the lower back press. To perform the exercise, lie on the floor with your legs bent and the bottoms of your shoes placed squarely on the floor. Slowly press your lower back to the floor. Hold that position for five to 10 seconds, then relax. Do 10 to 15 repetitions and stop.
2- Knee to Chest Movement
This exercise helps to alleviate stiffness and build strength in your lower back simultaneously. Start in the same position as the previous exercise — with your legs bent and shoes planted on the floor. Grab your right knee and slowly pull it toward your chest. And while you’re pulling your right knee to your chest, fully extend your left leg forward. Hold that position for five to 10 seconds, then return to the starting position. Repeat the same movement with your left knee as you fully extend your right leg. Hold it for the recommended count, then return to the starting position. Do five to 10 repetitions with each leg. You can also pull both knees to your chest as an alternative to this exercise or in addition to it.
3- Bridge Exercise
This exercise is best performed after you’ve warmed up a little because it incorporates more back muscles than the first two. While lying on your back with your feet planted firmly on the floor, raise your buttocks and hips off the floor until they’re in a straight line with your knees and shoulder. Hold the movement long enough to complete three deep breaths, according to Mayo Clinic, then lower your hips to the floor.
4- Kneeling Stretch
This time, kneel with your hands and knees on the floor. You may want to place a towel or mat down to pad your knees on this exercise. Slowly extend your left arm forward and your right leg backward and hold the movement for five or 10 seconds. Return to the start position. Repeat the same motion with your right arm forward and left leg extended backward. Perform 10 total repetitions of this exercise for two or three sets.
5- Child’s Pose
This movement will help you relax and relieve pressure in your back. While still in the kneeling position, lower your buttocks toward the heels of your feet. Extend your arms forward and place your forehead on the floor, mat or a rolled-up towel. Hold this position for 30 seconds to a minute, then stop, according to Huffington Post.
6- Shoulder Blade Squeeze
Here’s a less conspicuous exercise that you can do while sitting in a chair. It helps to alleviate stiffness from hunching over a computer screen all day. Sit erect with your back straight, both feet on the floor and hands in your lap. Slowly pull both shoulders back and squeeze your shoulder blades together. Hold it for five seconds and relax. Try performing several repetitions of this exercise three or four times per day. You’ll be surprised how it can strengthen muscles in your shoulder blades and take pressure off your neck.
Harvard Health Publications says you can perform most stretching exercises daily to strengthen your back and alleviate pain and discomfort. Don’t perform an exercise on a particular day if the movement hurts. You may also want to consult with your doctor before commencing any office back-strengthening regiment, especially if you have physical conditions or haven’t exercised for a while.