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Your 5-Minute Plan to Beat Back Pain

  • Feel Better Fast

    Once upon a time I had great posture -- and, not so coincidently, no back pain. But then I got pregnant. Now, nine months later, I find myself aching and walking like Quasimodo way too often. It's no mystery why: When I'm not hunched over my computer, I'm leaning over my newborn son all day long, nursing, changing, and playing with him. Like many women, I don't have much time to exercise, so I called Brian Kotoka, a functional-training specialist in Toronto, Canada, to help me with some fast, pain-relieving moves for my back. The fix? A simple five-minute routine I can easily squeeze into my day. All I -- and you -- need to do is perform each of these moves in order for one minute once a day.

  • Cat-Cow Step One

    Get on your hands and knees with your hands under your shoulders and your knees under your hips. Slowly drop your head and round your back, pulling your belly in toward your spine and tucking your tailbone under.

  • Cat-Cow Step Two

    Pause, then raise your chin as you lower your belly toward the floor and lift your tailbone toward the sky.

    Tip: Imagine there's a string pulling the center of your spine -- first toward the ceiling as high as you can, and then toward the floor as low as possible.

  • Rock-Back

    Come into the same starting position as cat-cow but with toes curled under. Rock back slowly until your butt nearly hits your heels and hold for two breaths (shown). Return to the starting position and repeat.

    Tip: This should be a smooth motion -- no bouncing! Focus on the stretch and release of your hips.

  • Elbow to Sky Step One

    Come into the same starting position as cat-cow but with toes curled under. Place your left hand behind your head, elbow extended out to the side. Bring your elbow under your torso toward your right arm.

  • Elbow to Sky Step Two

    Twist to the left, reaching your left elbow toward the sky. Slowly twist back and forth, holding each position for one breath. Repeat on the opposite side.

    Tip: Each time you twist your elbow to the sky, try to go just a little farther to increase the stretch.

  • Dead Bug

    Lie on your back with your head about six inches away from a wall. Raise your arms overhead and place your hands on the wall behind you. Lift your legs in the air and bend your knees at a 90-degree angle, knees aligned with hips. Slowly lower your left leg toward the ground and tap your heel on the floor (shown). Slowly return to the start. Alternate legs for one minute.

    Tip: Keep your abs contracted and your lower back flat throughout this move. You can also press your hands more firmly against the wall to increase stability.

  • Floor Scarecrow

    Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Allow your lower back to arch naturally. Extend your arms out to the sides, palms facing the ceiling, then bend your elbows and align them with your shoulders. Slowly raise your arms overhead along the floor until they're nearly straight (shown). Pause, then slowly pull them back to starting position, squeezing your shoulder blades together as you go.

    Tip: It's okay if your arms and shoulders don't rest perfectly flat along the floor -- this will improve as you gain mobility in your chest and shoulders.