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Relieve your Back Strain

Posted: February 4th, 2014 | Author: | Filed under: Exercises | No Comments »

MG_02151.jpgDoes your back or low back get strained and cranky from:

-Working at a desk/computer for many hours at time?
-Standing or walking for long periods ?
Long drives in the car?

Here is a simple exercise I use all of the time to relieve back strain, it can relieve strain in several minutes and re-set your back to comfort.

The exercise is called the “Static Back” exercise from the Egoscue method (www.egoscue.com) and is one of the staples of their method that they use to get people out of back pain. You can read more about his work and the exercises via his book “Pain Free.”

Standard Disclaimer: If in any way, it feels like the pose causes more discomfort, either during or directly after doing the exercise, please do not continue doing it. I am not responsible for any injuries. Please consult your physician before making any modifications to your exercise routine.

Static Back



To do the pose you will need a chair or some other piece of furniture to rest your legs on. It is best if the height of the chair can be adjusted. Otherwise you will need to use cushions to adjust the height or find a piece of furniture that is the correct height for you.

-Lie on your back with your upper legs on a chair (as in the photo) on a comfortable surface.
Make sure that your hips are bent at a 90 degree angle, as well as your knees.

Your arms should be at about a 45 degree angle out from your body, palms up.

-Your breath and gravity will do the work in helping the back muscles relax. As you are in the pose, make sure that you are breathing into your belly comfortably. You should be able to feel where your back, shoulders, and arms, is not completely relaxed on to the ground. See if you can allow gravity to sink your back into the ground more as you breathe and relax your back.

-As the exercise progresses, you should feel more and more of your whole back, including your low back, relax onto the ground and become flat against the ground.

How Long?

Generally it is suggested that you hold the pose for at least 15 minutes at a time. I would suggest that you try it briefly and see what kind of impact it has on your body, and go from there. Usually, the longer it is done, the more benefit someone will get from it.

This is a deceptively simple exercise, and can be very powerful at relieving discomfort in the back/spine. It may not permanently correct postural imbalances, but I hope will give you something you can do so that you have a tool to use to take charge of your own discomfort.

Extra Pointers:

-Make sure that your knees and lower leg are in line with your hips and do not roll out a lot. If they do, you probably need to raise the chair or put a cushion on the chair to add height.

-As much as you can, make sure that your chin and forehead are level (that your chin or your head doesn’t stick out upward). If the position of your neck or head feels like it is causing discomfort in this position, you can put a towel or pillow under your head or neck for additional support. If necessary you can also put something under your low back to support your low back.

-The 45 degree arm position will ensure that your shoulder blades are neutral and relaxed on the floor. If you feel tension in your arms/shoulders, this will also be addressed by this exercise.

-The exercise works because by bending the hips and knees at 90 degrees, it allows the low back to relax, which it generally cannot if you lie down with your legs flat on the ground.

-The more you do the exercise repeatedly, the more aware you will be of your back, and the easier and quicker it will be to relax tense muscles, as your body gets used to the process.


For releasing additional tension in your back, you can find something like a tennis ball and place it on the floor, under your back so it presses into your tense spots as you do the pose. Much like a foam roller, it will help release additional tension in your back. I prefer to use a ball slightly softer than a tennis ball. The pinky balls from “In the Wind” on Pearl St. work great for this.

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