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Exercising Your Way Out of Back and Neck Pain

Exercising Your Way Out of Back and Neck Pain

Proper exercises help ease pain, and lessen recovery time

You may think that a mild-moderate injury and energy slump are reasons to avoid exercise, but it could be exactly what you need. Consult your physician if you have any questions before beginning an exercise routine because depending on your specific cause and intensity of pain, not all exercises are recommended. However, the proper stretches and exercises could help ease your back and neck pain while also increasing your circulation, strengthening your muscles and lessening your recovery time.


The first thing many people think of when they begin stretching is to do a “toe touch” which is unnecessary and potentially harmful to the discs in the lumbar spine. Anyone experiencing sciatica may feel an increase in symptoms. A great replacement for stretching tight hamstrings is done while laying on your back. This can be done on the floor or even on a bed while using a towel to pull one leg at a time towards your body. You should feel a gentle stretch in the back of your thigh.

Try this:

Dr. Donnelly with a patient doing leg stretches

Dr. Donnelly shows a patient the leg stretches

Instead of this:

toe touch exercise

Toe touch exercise


Another popular exercise which is often done incorrectly and can therefore be harmful is crunches. Many people place their hands behind their head and pull forward which places pressure on the neck. Instead of risking improper form, try doing planks which are a more effective core exercise. Your weight is all on your elbows and toes while your spine creates a solid line from your neck to your pelvis.

Try this:

planking exercise


Instead of this:

crunch exercise


Core strengthening exercises

A few more exercises that are designed to strengthen your core and are likely to relieve back pain include bird dog, bridges, wall squats, back extensions and light aerobic exercises.

Bird Dog: For beginners, this can be done against a wall to help you avoid leaning to one side or the other. Your knees should be hip width apart and your hands should be shoulder width apart. You can also place something on your lower back to ensure your back is parallel to the floor at all times. When done properly, your opposite arm and leg should be extended simultaneously but if this is too difficult, you can keep your hands on the floor and only extend one leg at a time until you feel comfortable enough to add your arm at the same time while making sure your stomach doesn’t sag.

Bird dog

Bird dog

Bridges: Begin on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor. Then push your feet into the floor and lift your hips. Your shoulders, hips and knees should all be in a straight line. While in this position, contract your lower back muscles and hold it for approximately 5-10 seconds. Once this move becomes easy, you can make it more difficult by only keeping one foot on the floor and putting your other foot on the opposite knee, making sure to still keep both hips level.

Bridges Bridges

Wall Squats: Standing 10-12 inches away from a wall and your feet hip width apart, lean back until your back is completely against the wall. Then slide down until your knees form a 90⁰ angle and your thighs are parallel with the floor. Hold for 10 seconds or longer if possible and carefully slide back up the wall. Rest for 30 seconds between each set and try to hold the squat longer each time. As this becomes easier, you increase the difficulty level by also extending your arms in front of you.


Dr. Donnelly shows a patient how to do wall squats

Back Extensions: To start this move, lay flat on your stomach with your arms and legs extended. Beginners may want to only extend their upper body until the shoulders and chest are off the floor. Once you have mastered this, try extending your arms and legs at the same time while contracting your back muscles and holding it as long as you can. Also in this position, you can do “stationary swimming” which just involves moving your arms and legs up and down like you are swimming. These work all of your back muscles as well as your gluteus maximus and hamstrings.

Dr. Donnelly's patient does the back extension Dr-Donnelly-patient-back-extension-absolute-injury2
Back extensions

exercise to ease painAerobic Exercise: Even after some injuries, aerobic exercises may help you recover faster. When done properly, cardiovascular activity strengthens your heart and lungs, increases circulation and energy levels, and can lead to fat loss. Walking, swimming, using an elliptical machine, lifting weights and even many group exercise classes can reduce back pain, neck pain and headaches.

Ask your doctor which exercises and movements to avoid. We would love to help you get started today!


Dr. Allamm Morales, M.D.

Dr. Allamm Morales has over 15 years experience in personal injury and a wide range of neurological disorders. He has privilege, and provides patient care in local Baptist hospitals.

He was Chief Resident at the Neurology Residency Program of the University of South Florida, and worked at the Florida Hospital of New Smyrna, and St. Luke Hospital in Ponce, Puerto Rico. He also served many years with the Florida Neurology Institute, Inc.

Dr. Morales is a Diplomate of the American Board of Vascular Neurology, and a Diplomate of the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology.

Dr. Morales studied in Nova Southeastern University, Davie, FL, had residency at the Caibarien General Hospital, Cuba, and obtained the MD degree at the Superior Institute of Medical Science in Cuba.

Fiaz Jaleel, M.D.
Physical Medicine & Rehab, Pain Management

“Life is short and precious. As a Physiatrist and Pain Physician my goal for my patients is to reduce their pain and suffering, enhance form, improve function and ultimately promote the best quality of life for that individual.”

Dr. Fiaz Jaleel graduated from the University of The West Indies in 1987. He completed a two year internship at Port of Spain General Hospital in Trinidad and Tobago. He completed his internship in Internal Medicine at St. Francis Hospital in Evanston, IL and went on to do a residency in Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at Barnes Jewish Hospital in St. Louis , MO. In 2007, Dr. Jaleel joined the team at Absolute Injury and Pain Physicians as Medical Director. He is currently Board Certified in Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation as well as Pain Medicine via the American Board of Pain Medicine.

In Trinidad and Tobago, Dr. Jaleel held positions as an Intern, House officer, and District Medical Officer. He has also practiced in Illinois, Missouri, South Dakota and Central and North Florida.

While practicing in Trinidad , Dr. Jaleel also worked in Internal Medicine, General Surgery, Pediatrics, Neonatology, Obstetrics and Gynecology, Ear, Nose and Throat Surgery, Ophthalmology, Radiology, Neurosurgery, Plastic Surgery, Orthopedics, Emergency Medicine and Community Medicine.

Dr. Jaleel has encountered many diseases, disorders and clinical situations related to multiple aspects of trauma including penetrating and non-penetrating injuries, motor vehicular accidents and concomitant injuries including intra-abdominal injuries, closed head injuries, fractures and burns.

When not treating his patients, Dr. Jaleel enjoys travelling, reading and spending time with friends and family.

Dr. Jaleel has the following affiliations:
Diplomate, American Board of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation
Diplomate, American Board of Pain Medicine
Fellow, American Academy of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation
Member, American Academy of Pain Medicine
Member, Florida Society of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation
Member, Florida Academy of Pain Medicine
Member, Florida Medical Association

Deric L. D’Agostino, D.C.
Chiropractic Physician

“The health of a body is in direct proportion to the health of its nervous system. The nervous system controls every cell, tissue and organ in your body, tap into that and “miracles” will most certainly happen!”

Dr. Deric D’Agostino attended the Logan College of Chiropractic and has been helping patients at Absolute Injury and Pain Physicians for the past nine years. Around here we call him “Dr. D.”

Dr. D’Agostino specializes in Koren Specific Technique and in the treatment of injuries resulting from motor vehicle accidents. He is a master of his craft and firmly believes that chiropractic treatment can not only help the body but also the mind. His sense of humor and the personal attention that he provides really puts patients at ease.

Dr. D’Agostino genuinely listens to the patient while working very hard to erase their pain-inducing symptoms. He is always seeking out continuing education and new methodology to add to his care repertoire.

When he is not helping patients find relief, Dr. D’Agostino enjoys training for sprint triathlons, gardening, as well as being an awesome father and husband. You will most likely find him at our Arlington location dawning a huge smile while drinking his homemade juice.