Active physical therapy uses a variety of exercises as a method to rehabilitate the spine and relieve pain, according to Spine-health. Patients follow a therapy program that incorporates a combination of stretching, strengthening and aerobic exercises.
A physical therapy program for the back uses dynamic strengthening exercises that focus on developing back muscles, ligaments and tendons in order to stabilize the lumbar spine, states Spine-health. Many back exercises also emphasize development of the core abdominal muscles, gluteus and hips. Strengthening the core muscles encourages healthy movement patterns such as rotating, bending and extending.
McKenzie exercises are a form of back therapy that help patients suffering from degenerative disk disease, according to Spine-health. Exercises are performed in combinations of lying down and standing, and use the upper back, lower back, core and arms to mobilize and stabilize the spine. Lumbar stabilization exercises may be used in combination with McKenzie exercises; however, they are more intense and may not be suitable for all patients. Alternative exercise programs include yoga, Pilates and tai chi.
Long-term back pain is reduced through aerobic conditioning, including walking, bicycling and swimming, notes Spine-health. It's best to perform aerobic work on alternate days from strength training, for 30 to 40 minutes per session. Additionally, stretching the hamstrings once or twice each day is important for patients who experience low back pain. Hamstring stretches are simple and quick to do and should be incorporated into a daily routine.