Personal trainers and physical therapists Jim and Phil Wharton say there are relatively quick and simple ways to relieve back pain, as you develop and maintain a strong and flexible back.
Their new offering, "The Whartons' Back Book," seeks to help readers understand how the back works, and why back problems are often linked to injuries in other parts of the body.
The Whartons say you can ease pain and keep your back strong with a simple 20-minute routine customized to fit your lifestyle.
They've worked with celebrity clients such as Patrick Ewing, Lance Armstrong, and many of the U.S. track and field Olympic medal winners.
The Whartons acknowledge that, when your back isn't strong or flexible enough to move freely through a proper range of motion, even the simplest every-day activity can result in discomfort, pain and injury. Reports now indicate that as much as 80 percent of the population will experience back problems stemming from a restricted range of motion at one point or another.
And the authors caution that pain and discomfort are warning signs from our body encouraging us to modify our activity - or lack thereof - to avoid more serious injury. Unfortunately, we don't always listen. As the main mast of the skeletal system, the back has the unenviable responsibility of helping us withstand the accumulating effects of gravity, inactivity and age.
So how can you help your back stay or get back in the game?
The Whartons offer numerous ways to restore the all-important joint range-of-motion necessary to keep your back strong and flexible, to reduce pain:
The neck is indeed part of the back. Loss of strength and range of motion in this area will lead to pain and discomfort not only in the neck, but also in the shoulders and upper back. The following two routines will help eliminate pain and build strength:
THE UPPER BACK
The upper back is the area of the body from just below the neck down to the spine, at the lowest rib. It is also the area where people typically carry the most tension. Left untreated, this tension can manifest itself as adhesions and scar tissue set deep into the muscle fiber, which in turn can lead to more serious injury. The following two exercises will help release the tension and restore joint range of motion in this important area:
2. Rotator Cuff 1: Do while seated or standing with abdominal muscles engaged. Lock your exercising elbow and bring it across your chest. Gently assist at the end of movement with non-exercising hand just above your elbow. Hold for one second at the end of the movement. Repeat 7-10 times. (Exercise #19 in the book)
THE LOWER BACK
This is the part of the back represented from the lowest rib to the waist. It is here that the large lumbar vertebrae bear most of the body's weight and incur the most stress of movement. This stress can generate any number of painful conditions as a result of improperly aligned hips and fatigued, over-compensating muscles. If you suffer from lower back pain and your physician has ruled out serious injury, try the following exercises: