A sharp pain in the back which occurs while lifting a heavy object or over stretching is a clear symptom of a strained back muscle. A muscle strain is an injury caused due to partial or complete tear of a muscle or its tendon by over exertion or stretching beyond its normal range. The muscle pull leads to soreness and swelling in the region in and around the torn muscle, impairing mobility. A back muscle pull generally is observed in the lower back called as lumbar strain.
Physical Therapy Exercises
Physical therapy along with exercise therapy for back pain is very important for strengthening of back muscles as well as recovery from the muscle strain. The lower back muscles which become stiff because of low physical activity or over exertion are prone to muscle strain when suddenly attempting a heavy task or quick movement. These exercises will not only help you accelerate the recovery process, they will also strengthen your back muscles to prevent repeated damage.
Before initiating any of these exercises consult your physical therapist or exercise therapist. Depending on your degree of strain and muscles that are strained, the exercises may be different.
Exercise #1 - Rotation Stretch
The aim of this exercise is to work on the lower back muscles which are responsible for the turning and twisting actions. Take a comfortable seating position (an exercise ball would be a perfect option). Once seated, turn your shoulders to one direction, while keeping the body in the same position. Hold for 3 seconds and move your shoulders in the other direction.
Exercise #2 - Back Flexion
Lie on an exercise mat in the face up position. Now, pull both the knees together towards your chest. While doing so, slightly raise your neck towards the raised knees to achieve a full flexing of the back muscles. Stretch yourself till a comfortable stretch is observed while still in a balled up position. Repeat 8-10 times per set.
Exercise #3 - Knee to Chest Stretch
Lie on an exercise mat in the face up position. Place your knees in the bent position with just the feet toughing the mat. Now, place both your hands behind one knee and bring it closer to the chest area, stretching till your injury permits. Hold this position for 3 seconds before going back to neutral.
Exercise #4 - Bicycle Stretch
A bicycle stretch is to be started slowly by lying on your back, hands firmly supporting the head, knees bent and feet touching the floor. Now, bring one of your knees towards your opposite elbow. Repeat the same with the other opposing knee and elbow.
Exercise #5 - Sideways Bending
The sideways bending exercise is a part of regular physical routine and hence, everyone is aware of it. Hold your hand together and move them over your head to achieve a flex in your back muscles. Now, move your upper body sideways, while still holding the stretched arms together. Hold this position for 3 seconds and then move to your neutral position. Perform this exercise for both sides. It can also be performed in a seated position.
Exercise #6 - Hamstring Stretch
Hamstring stretch exercises are performed in different ways. The most common way is to sit with one leg stretched and one leg folded inward. Now, stretch towards the extended leg to touch its toes. With limited mobility, try and stretch till your injury permits and then switch legs after completing a set of 10 repetitions.
If the pain persists for more than two weeks or if the pain increases, visit a physiotherapist for further consultation and a specialised treatment program.