When I was in my mid and late twenties, I used to suffer from a lot of back pain. I used to have all different types of back pain. I used to have lower back pain from arching too much in this area. I used to have loads of problems in my chest area. Like one of my ribs would constantly get dislocated and it would trap a nerve underneath and it would shoot this horrible pain throughout my ribcage. It felt as if I was having a heart attack several times a day. I couldn’t even inhale because of the pain when it was happening.
I used to have a lot of problems around my shoulders and my shoulder blades. My neck would be either stiff or blocked all the time and I had this big lump where the first vertebrate meets the skull. It would give me a lot of headache.
I would have massages regularly but it wouldn’t provide any lasting relief. I considered myself quite fit at that time, I used to run almost every day, I used to do lots of yoga, lots of stretching, some swimming. But I still would have this back pain.
A physiotherapist I used to see told me that I needed to strengthen my upper body, which was definitely the right advice because my ribcage was all bones and no muscle.
The truth is that since my late teens I was definitely spending too much time sitting. I was a university student, then I started working as a journalist and I would spend too many hours hunched over a computer.
The physiotherapist advised me to get some weights and do some exercise with it to strengthen my upper body. I did get those weights and I would exercise with it but honestly, it wasn’t too much fun. I wasn’t doing it too regularly and obviously, the back pain wouldn’t go.
When I was 31, I had this epiphany that I wanted to start doing gymnastics again. I used to be a gymnast when I was a kid but I quit at the age of 14.
So I found an adult gymnastics class and started doing gymnastics. When I say gymnastics, I am not talking about somersaults or backflips or any sort of Simone Biles stuff. I am talking more about handstands and cartwheels, which is something that anyone can do or at least try quite safely.
And the most amazing thing happened. Although I was virtually completely sore for three days following every training, all those back pains that I used to suffer from were simply disappearing.
And that finally leads me to answer the question – what is the best exercise to get rid of back pain? I totally believe that it’s a simple handstand. You don’t even need to be good at it. If you look at my handstand in the video below, you will see that I don’t have too much stability (I thought I’d rather increase the speed of the video to make it less obvious how bad my stability is).
You can even do it against the wall if you are afraid. Just the simple fact of shifting your body weight on your hands and arms several times a day would really bring the blood flow back to those rusty underused muscles and joints.
Another exercise, which I think is really great for strengthening the upper body, is the elbow stand. I find the elbow stand trickier than the handstand and I really recommend doing it against the wall first.
The first time I tried this posture it felt completely impossible. I had no upper body strength to support my weight. All the pressure was on my spine and my bones and I just couldn’t do it. But again just by trying this a few times a day, your upper body will quickly get stronger.
The final back maintenance drill to counteract the effects of working too much on a computer is the bridge pose.
Let’s face it. Not too many of us are able to maintain the proper sitting position when working on a computer. We are bending forwards, the shoulders are collapsing, the spine between the shoulder blades is rounding more and more, the chin is sticking out. The bridge pose is great to counteract this and to help the spine and the shoulders to get back into the natural position and regain (or maintain) some flexibility. I have to honestly admit that especially in the morning, the bridge is the least pleasant things you can think of doing (I do hate this pose sometimes but it’s really great for your spine).
The important thing with the bridge it to really push against your chest and increase the curvature in the chest and shoulder area rather than in the lower back, which could actually lead to more back pain.
Anyway. Try each of those five times a day and let me know whether it makes a difference 😉