If you have ever experienced muscle spasms in your back, you know it can be a debilitating experience. This uncomfortable condition is the result of involuntary contraction of muscle fibers. Luckily, exercise for muscle spasm can help.
Spasms in the back can occur for various reasons, including tight back or hamstring muscles, weak back muscles, weak abdominal muscles or muscle strains.
Most cases resolve on their own with a little rest, heat, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications, muscle relaxants and some gentle stretching.
1. Knee-to-Chest Stretch
The knee-to-chest movement stretches the muscles of your lower back as well as your hips, as recommended by the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons.
- Lie on your back with your knees bent.
- Bring your right leg toward your chest.
- Place your hands behind your thigh and pull your leg closer to your chest; hold this position for 10 seconds.
- Repeat three to five times on each leg.
- Alternatively, pull both legs up at the same time.
2. Trunk Rotations
Stretch tight muscles in your lower back and hips with trunk rotations, as recommended by Princeton University Athletic Medicine.
- Lie on your back with your legs bent at the knees — with your knees touching and your feet flat on the floor — with your feet touching.
- Contract your abdominal muscles and slowly bring your knees to the right as far as possible.
- Hold this position for three to five seconds.
- Slowly bring your legs all the way over to the left side and hold for three to five seconds.
- Do five to 10 repetitions on each side.
Remember to keep your legs together as you move them from side to side and keep your feet on the floor. Your back should remain relatively motionless during this exercise, as the twisting motion comes mostly from your hips.
3. Prone Back Extension
Prone back extensions are used to increase the flexibility of your lower back. If this exercise is uncomfortable, start by propping on your elbows for 30 seconds.
- Lie facedown.
- With your elbows on the floor, raise your upper body off the floor.
- Place your hands on the floor and lift your entire abdomen off the floor while straightening your arms.
- In this position, arch your spine backward slightly, giving a stretch to your lower back.
- Hold for 30 seconds and repeat three times.
4. Hamstring Stretch
Hamstring muscles, located in the backs of your thighs, pull on your lower back when they are tight or inflexible. This pulling action can cause your back muscles to spasm. Hamstring stretches can reduce the strain to your lower back and prevent spasms.
- Sit down on the floor and extend your right leg in front of your body.
- Bend your left leg so that the bottom of your foot is touching your right thigh.
- Stretch your arms out and lean forward toward your right leg as far as possible.
- Hold this position for 15 seconds.
- Do three repetitions on each leg.
5. Cat/Cow Stretch
For exercise variety, try yoga poses for back spasms. The cat/cow stretch is coordinated with your breathing pattern to help reduce muscles tightness and chronic pain, according to the University of Arkansas Research & Extension.
- Begin on your hands and knees.
- Inhale and drop your belly toward the ground as you lift your head and chest toward the ceiling.
- Exhale and arch your back upward.
- Repeat for three breath cycles.
- University of Arkansas Research & Extension: "Handout 4: Yoga Movement for Chronic Pain"
- American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons: "Spine Conditioning Program"
- Princeton University Athletic Medicine: "Lumbar/Core Strength and Stability Exercises"
- American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons: Muscle Cramp
- American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons: Low Back Pain Exercise Guide