Back pain is one of the most common medical problems among adults. Approximately 8 out of 10 people will experience back pain sometime in their lifetime. As the main bearer of the upper body weight, the lower back is the most common site of back pain. The good news is that regular lower back pain exercises can help you relieve or prevent lower back pain.
Lower Back Pain Stretches
Stretching is one of the most back-friendly exercises. It can help you reduce or prevent back pain by increasing the flexibility of the spine and the supporting muscles, tendons, and ligaments. The following are some lower back pain stretches that you may be able to do at home. But if you have serious back pain or recently had back surgery, you should check with your doctor or physical therapist before you start these stretches.
- Cat stretch. Get down on the floor on your hands and knees. Slowly push your back up towards the ceiling, like a cat arching its back. Continue arching until you feel a gentle stretch in your back. Hold for about 5-20 seconds and then return to the starting position. Repeat a few times.
- Camel stretch. Get down on the floor on your hands and knees. Slowly raise your head and hips, allowing your stomach to fall towards the floor. Continue until you feel a gentle stretch. Hold for about 5-20 seconds and then return to the starting position. Repeat a few times.
- Knee-to-chest exercise. Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Grasp one leg behind the thigh and slowly bring it towards your chest. Pull until you feel a gentle stretch. Hold for about 15-30 seconds and then return to the starting position. Stretch the other leg. Repeat a few times for each leg.
- Pelvic tilt. Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Tighten your abdominal muscles and press your lower back against the floor. Hold for about 5 seconds and then return to the starting position. Repeat a few times.
- Curl-ups. Lie on the floor on your back with your knees bent, feet flat on the floor, and hands resting on your chest or belly. Tighten your abdominal muscles and raise your shoulder blades off the floor. Keep your head in line with your upper body. Hold for a few seconds and then return to the starting position. Repeat a few times.
To avoid injury while stretching, make sure you start slowly and gently. If any of the lower back pain stretches increase your back pain, do not do it. While stretching, do not bounce or hold your breath. Keep in mind that it takes time to increase your back’s flexibility. If any of the back pain stretches appear to be too challenging for you in the beginning, do not get discouraged. As long as you keep stretching every day, those back pain stretches will gradually become easier.
Other Lower Back Pain Exercises
Other lower back pain exercises include strengthening and aerobic exercises.
- Strengthening exercises for lower back pain focus on the back, stomach, buttock, and leg muscles. The goal of these exercises is for you to have strong back, stomach, buttock, and leg muscles, which can better support the spine.
- Aerobic exercises such as walking and swimming are good for your heart and overall health condition. Clinical studies have indicated that low to moderate aerobic exercises can improve mood and reduce patients’ need for pain medications.
Regular exercises are beneficial to your lower back and overall health condition. But if you are suffering from serious back pain, you should talk to your health care provider before you start doing any back pain exercises. If it’s possible, ask your health care provider or physical therapist to develop an exercise program that best suits your condition.