I’ve mentioned before that exercise is probably my least favorite way to relieve low back pain. But it is also very important and very effective. Of course, you should work with your doctor or physical therapist. For this article, I consulted with a doctor about the best lower back pain exercises and stretches.
Lower back pain is one of the most common health complaints among Americans. Figures show that about 80% of people in the US will experience back pain at some point in their lives. All age groups can develop lower back pain, but the risk increases as you’re getting older. Especially due to being overweight or obese, sedentary lifestyle, repetitive motions, among other causes.
Lower back pain can be frustrating, and it affects a person’s quality of life. Fortunately, there’s a lot you can do to recover, and exercises are your best bet. Continue reading for the best lower back pain exercises and stretches to relieve pain and maybe prevent further damage.
How Does Exercise Help?
Look, I get it. The last thing you want to do when experiencing pain in the low back is to exercise. Most of us tend to believe that exercise and any other kind of sudden movements would make things worse. As a result, we move only when necessary, try to spend as much time as we can in bed, but always get nervous when pain doesn’t go away.
To clarify, rest is important, but you also need to do exercises in order to alleviate pain. In fact, a growing body of evidence confirms that exercise alone or in combination with education is effective for preventing low back pain and its management.
Studies show that exercise supports the lumbar (lower back) spine and it has the potential to improve the flexibility of the ligaments, muscles, and other structures in the back area. As a result, a person experiences an increase in their range of motion which improves the overall quality of life.
Physical activity promotes blood flow which is important for delivering nutrients to all the tissues in your back in order to reduce stiffness and improve the healing process. Decreased stiffness and faster healing are important for pain relief.
Now that you know that exercise really helps let’s take a look at the best exercises you can do right now.
#1 – Trunk Rotation Stretch
Trunk rotation stretch works by improving the mobility of the spine while relaxing muscles on the side of your trunk. Here’s how to do it:
- Lie on the mat with knees bent
- Maintain upper back flat on the ground and start rotating legs towards the floor until you feel the stretch
- Repeat the same thing on the other side
Stay steady holding each stretch for five seconds and do ten reps on each side
#2 – Lower Abdominal Strengthening
At first glance, it may seem like this exercise belongs here, but it’s one of the easiest things you can do to alleviate lower back pain or to prevent it. How? It’s vital to strengthen your abdominal area because that part of the body works closely with low back. If lower abdomen muscles are weak, your lower back muscles tighten up which leads to pain. In order to do this exercise, you should:
- Lie on the back with knees bent and feet on the ground
- Breathe in as you bring one knee toward the chest
- Breathe out as you’re returning the foot toward the floor
- Do six to eight reps on en each leg
#3 -Child’s Pose
Child’s pose is one of the easiest exercises you can do to alleviate lower back pain. The stretch works by helping improve the mobility of your spine while allowing the muscles to relax. In order to perform this super easy stretch, you just need to:
- Get on your four limbs
- Make sure to push your hips back while reaching out arms forward until you feel a stretch is building up in your back
Stay still for 10 seconds and do five reps.
#4 – Partial Crunches
Partial crunches strengthen muscles in both stomach and back areas. By strengthening your abdominal and back muscles, this exercise helps prevent and alleviate pain. In order to complete this simple exercise you need to follow these instructions:
- Lie on the ground with your knees bent and feet placed firmly on the floor
- Cross your arms over the chest, but if don’t find it comfortable you can put hands behind the neck
- Tighten muscles in your stomach and start raising shoulders off the ground
- Exhale while lifting the shoulders
- Hold the partial crunch for a second and slowly return to the starting position
- Perform eight to 12 reps
TIP: Make sure you don’t use arms to pull your neck off the floor, and it’s also important not to lead with the elbows.
#5 – Hamstring Stretches
Hamstring stretches improve flexibility in your legs and back. Thanks to relieved stiffness the intensity of pain will also subside. Here is how to do it:
- Start by lying on your back with one knee bent
- Take a towel and loop it right under the ball of your foot
- Making sure the knee is straightened start pulling slowly on the back of your towel
- Ideally, in the rear part of the leg, you should feel a subtle stretch
Remain in that position for 15 to 30 seconds and do two to four reps.
#6 – Wall Sit
Wall sit is an exercise that you can do everywhere, even in your office. How to do it? Here are the instructions:
- Stand with back facing wall about 10 to 12 inches away from it
- Start leaning back until you notice your back is right against the wall
- Now, start sliding down, so your knees are bent slightly as if you’re just about to sit on a chair
- Low back area should keep gently pressing the wall
- Count to 10 and slowly return into the starting position
- Do eight to 12 reps
#7 – Hip Flexor Stretch
Why do hip flexors? Well, most of us spend a great deal of the time sitting down which can tighten our hips. Hip flexors increase the flexibility of your hips but also help reduce pain in lower back. Here’s how to do it:
- Kneel on your mat
- Lean forward toward the bent front knee until you feel a stretch in front of the opposite thigh
- Hold the stretch for 10 seconds
Do five reps.
Lower back pain affects millions of people and impairs their quality of life. Simple exercises and stretches can improve your flexibility, alleviate pain, and help you move more easily. This article featured the easiest exercises you can do for pain relief. Do them a few times a day, and you’ll notice the improvement.