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80% of adults will experience lower back point at some point in their lives. That’s because the vertebrae in our spine degenerate as we age. Our backs are also the, well, backbone to the body’s stability. It helps us keep our balance as we walk. For those with frequent back pain, everyday tasks can feel impossible. Learn how exercise for lower back pain may be the answer you've been looking for.
Exercises can help strengthen the lower back muscles and the abdomen muscles, which play a large role in the spine’s strength. The back, stomach, arm and leg muscles are all included when people talk about core strength. Having strong muscles other than the back muscles helps take the pressure off the spine and can alleviate lower back pain.
Too much heavy lifting and general age-related wear and tear can sometimes result in herniated discs. Each vertebra is protected by a ‘disc’ full of fluid that helps lubricate the spine for smooth movements. The discs between the vertebrae can rupture and cause an immense amount of pain. Improving your core strength can help prevent this from happening.
10 Best Exercises to Relieve Lower Back Pain
The bridge exercise utilizes your glutes, which are another part of core strength. Be careful not to over extend the back muscles.
Lie on the floor on your back with your knees bent.
Squeeze your abs and push your heels until your buttocks are lifted a few inches off the floor.
Hold position for 3-5 seconds.
Return your buttocks to the ground and repeat exercise 15 times.
The forearm plank strengthens your entire core in one simple exercise.
Place your forearms on the floor to hold your balance.
Extend your legs behind you in a straight line.
Squeeze your core muscles while keeping your back straight.
Hold the position for 10 seconds.
Relax and repeat for 15 reps.
The side plank is similar to the forearm plank, except one hand is holding your entire body’s weight.
Place your left hand on the floor, underneath your left shoulder.
Extend your legs behind you in a line with your fee on top of each other.
Squeeze your core muscles while lifting your right arm up toward the sky.
Hold the position for 30 seconds.
Repeat on the right side of your body.
Increase length of hold until you can manage three minutes.
Lunges are an easy way to build core strength in your legs, abdominal and back. You can do forward lunges (stepping forward) or backward lunges (stepping backward.) Start with forward lunges first.
Stand with your hands on your hips and your feet shoulder-width apart.
Use your right foot to step 2 feet forward, keeping your left foot firmly planted behind you.
Bend knees at a 90-degree angle.
Return your right foot to starting position.
Repeat exercise with your left leg moving forward.
Do 15 reps with each foot.
Knee-to-chest stretches are a great way to wake your body up in the morning while relieving back pain.
Lie on the floor on your back.
Bend the knees while keeping feet on the floor.
Wrap your hands around one knee and bring it to your chest.
Hold for 5 seconds while tightening abdominal muscles.
Let go of your leg.
Repeat the stretch on the opposite leg.
Stretch each leg 2-3 times.
Use the stretch every day.
Rotational stretches are a simple exercise that improves spine stability by working the core muscles.
Lie on the floor on your back.
Bend both knees and keep feet firmly planted on the ground.
Gently roll bent knees to the right side.
Hold position for 10 seconds.
Return to original position.
Repeat on left side.
The pelvic tilt is good for easing tense back muscles and improving flexibility.
Lie on back on the floor with both knees bent.
Arch your lower back.
Hold for 10 seconds.
Flatten your back.
Hold for 10 seconds.
Repeat 15-30 times per day.
Sit-ups and full crunches are very difficult to do with lower back pain. Partial crunches are a convenient compromise that builds core strength.
Lie on your back with knees bent.
Cross your arms across your chest or behind your head.
Raise shoulders off the floor while tightening abdominal muscles.
Hold for 5 seconds.
Repeat 15 times.
Don’t use your elbows or neck to pull yourself up into the crunch.
Lower back pain can travel down the legs and affect the hamstrings. Use a towel or a fitness band for this stretch.
Lie on your back on the floor.
Keep one knee bent.
Wrap a towel underneath the other leg, holding onto the ends of the towel in each hand.
Slowly pull on the towel until your knee is straight.
Hold for 30 seconds.
Repeat on opposite leg.
When your lower back hurts, sitting on a couch seems like a good solution. However, immobility can actually make back pain worse. Wall sits help you keep the muscles moving.
Stand with back against the wall.
Lean into the wall so your spine is flattened against the wall.
Slide down the wall until you’re in a sitting position with your knees bent.
Hold the position for 10 seconds.
Slide back up the wall and repeat exercise 15 times.
Is Walking Good For Lower Back Pain?
For the majority of our day, our back is the last thing on our mind. Until it starts hurting, that is. Between rushing to get things down at work, to enjoying our favorite TV shows and spending hours scrolling social media, our backs bear the brunt of our habits.
Walking is a great way to slowly ease your hurting back into exercising. If the exercises we talked about early are just too painful right now, try taking walks instead. Walking is a great, low-impact exercise that helps improve your stability while keeping your functional. You can set the pace, the route, and difficulty level to you exact needs. All you need is a pair of comfy sneakers!
However, jogging and treadmills should be avoided if you have lower back pain. When we walk, our back absorbs the shock of our feet hitting concrete. The discs between the vertebrae take the brunt of the damage, which can make lower back pain worse and cause the discs to rupture.
So, yes, a 30-minute daily walk help relieve lower back pain. Any type of exercise also releases endorphins, which are known to improve the mood.
Other low-impact exercises to ease lower back pain include biking, swimming or using an elliptical.
After-Exercise Treatments for Lower Back Pain
Many people feel tired but refreshed after completing their daily exercise routine. However, exercise can also exacerbate lower back pain and make you wary of continuing your regular workout.
Quitting your workout routine will only add to your back pain because your core muscles will weaken. It’s a double-edged sword. Exercise causes pain, but you have to exercise to prevent more pain.
There are a few ways you can alleviate the lower back pain you feel after exercising:
Resting after exercising gives your muscles a chance to relax and regroup. Many fitness experts recommend focusing on one muscle group one day and then letting that group rest the next day while you focus on a different muscle group.
Some rest is okay, even helpful. On the other hand, too much rest can cause stiff or weak muscles. If you do rest, give yourself a time limit so you aren’t sitting on the couch all day. That will only make the back pain worse in the long run.
You can use heat or ice packs, depending on what type of pain you’re feeling. Ice should be used on inflammations while heat is used to soothe sore muscles. Many pharmacies sell heat wraps that can be worn around the back to help ease pain.
You can take aspirin to help reduce back pain. Since back pain is often caused by irritated nerves of the spinal cord, aspirin can help reduce the inflammation. Some brands have special versions of medicine that are targeted for back pain. They can be found in any pharmacy or drugstore.
If your lower back pain is uncontrollable, you can ask your doctor what prescriptions may work for you. However, narcotics tend to become ineffective as your body builds up a tolerance. That’s a slippery slope that is really hard to get back up.
Some people find that lower back massages can help alleviate back pain and prevent further injury. You can book a massage at your local spa or use a handheld massager found in many pharmacies. Some types of massages use heat and hot stones, which will greatly help your lower back pain.
Exercises to Avoid When You Have Lower Back Pain
Exercising can strengthen your core muscles and remove the stress and pressure from the lower spine. However, there are some exercises that are more harmful than helpful for lower back pain.
Avoid these exercises if you have lower back pain:
- Toe touches
- Leg Lifts
- Weight Lifting, especially Deadlifting
- Spin Bikes
How Do You Relieve a Stiff Lower Back?
Heat increases the blood to muscles, which helps relieve aches and pain.
Ice numbs pain and reduces inflammation.
Inactivity only increases lower back pain and makes stiffness worse. Light activity such as walking can help keep your spine loose. Avoid heavy lifting when you have lower back pain.
Aspirin or ibuprofen can help reduce the inflammation that causes back pain. There are also topical creams that are supposed to lubricate the muscles. CBD oil has also been successfully used to manage pain.
Massaging the lower back helps control back spasms and relaxes tense muscles. It’s also very relaxing.
Speaking of relaxing, light yoga exercises can decrease the discomfort caused by lower back pain. Yoga and other meditation techniques utilize deep breathing, which many people find relaxing. If you are relaxed, the muscles in your back will be, too.
Do you suffer from lower back pain? Let us know if any of the exercises mentioned above have provided relief!