There are a lot of possible reasons for having lower back pain, but the most common reason is sitting. Whether it is at work or at home, people spend a lot of time seated. Over time, prolonged periods of sitting can negatively affect your posture and spine. It also makes your muscles weak. When muscles in the core and pelvis become weak, it can sometimes lead to back pain or injury.
Lower back pain can interfere with our daily activities. Back in the days, people are encouraged to have a bed rest if they are experiencing back pain. Nowadays, it is suggested to keep exercising. But of course, it is important to do only appropriate exercises. Choosing the wrong exercises could just worsen your back pain instead of giving you relief.
Addressing Lower Back Pain
There are exercises that you can do to help alleviate the pain in your lower back. These exercises can strengthen your back, stomach, and leg muscles. These exercises will help you stretch out those tight muscles that cause you lower back pain and will likewise strengthen the weak muscles. These will also help support your spine, alleviating back pain.
Ideally, your pain should start to ease within 2 weeks of exercise. After 4 to 6 weeks, it should be gone. If the pain does not improve after a few weeks or if at any point during the exercise you experience severe pain, listen to your body and stop. Seeing a doctor is highly suggested because even though back pain can be usually relieved by exercising or stretching, there are also serious causes for this. These includes compression fractures, spinal stenosis, disc herniation, cancer, infection, spondylolisthesis, and neurological disorders.
Exercises for Lower Back Pain
Carry out this exercise by lying in your back with knees bent, making sure that your feet are placed hip distance apart on the floor. Next, take a deep breath in and while you breathe out, lift your hips off the floor until your shoulders, hips, and knees are in a straight line. Hold this position for about 6 seconds. Then, as you breathe in, slowly lower your hips to the floor and rest for 10 seconds. Repeat this 8 to 12 times. Do not arch your lower back as you move your hips upward. To avoid overarching, tighten your abdominal muscles prior and throughout the lift.
When you have lower back pain, the muscle in your butt called piriformis can be tight. To stretch this muscle, carry out this very easy and yet effective exercise. Lie on your back on the floor or a mat. Then, cross your right ankle over your left knee. Grip the thigh of your left leg and take a deep breath in. Pull the knee in towards you as you breathe out. Hold this stretch for 20-30 seconds. Do this twice for each side.
Knee to Chest
This stretch is used to align pelvis and stretch the lower back and rear end muscles. First, lie flat on your back with knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Next, bring one knee to your chest while keeping the other foot flat on the floor. Be sure to keep your lower back pressed to the floor, then hold this position for 15 to 30 seconds. Then, lower your knee and repeat this process on your other leg. Repeat this 2 to 4 times for each of your leg.
Lie on your back with your knees bent. Make sure that you keep your feet hip-width apart on the floor. Tense your stomach muscles by contracting it as if you were preparing for a punch. Next, tilt your pelvis up slightly until you feel a gentle arch in your lower back. Hold for 10 seconds while breathing in and out smoothly. Then, slowly return to your starting position. Repeat this 8 to 12 times while tilting your pelvis back and forth in a slow rocking motion.
Deep Abdominal Strengthening
The transverse abdominis provides great support for the lower back that is why it is a very important muscle to strengthen. For most people, this muscle is very weak; thus, they experience lower back pain. Strengthen this muscle by following these steps. First, lie on your back. For comfort, place a small cushion under your head. Then, bend your knees. Your feet should be hip distance apart and placed on the floor. Take a deep breath in, and as you breathe out to focus on drawing your belly button in towards your spine. Hold this for 5 to 10 seconds. Then, relax your tummy muscles as you breathe out. This is a slow, gentle exercise so do not tense your muscles too quickly or too hard. Repeat this process five times.
It is important to mobilize your back to aid its recovery. One great way to do that is to do the bird dog exercise. Begin on all fours, making sure that your hands are directly under your shoulders and your knees are directly under your hips. Next, make sure that your spine is in a neutral position. Likewise, your head should also be in line with your spine. Then, breathe in while pulling your abs into your spine. While keeping your back and pelvis still and stable, reach your right arm forward and left leg back. Be sure to keep your spine in a neutral position at all times. Never let your lower back sag down. Hold for 5-10 seconds. As you breathe out, slowly lower both your leg and arm to the ground. Do the same on the other side. Repeat this exercise eight to twelve times on alternating sides.
Other exercises that you may also want to try are:
- Partial crunches
- Hamstring stretches
- Wall sits
- Press-up back extensions
- Aerobic exercise
- Some pilates moves
- Bottom to heels stretch
- Knee rolls
- Back extensions
- Lower tummy strengthening
- Lower back stretch
- Leg stretch
- Hip stretch
- Spine stretch