Exercises for Your Lower Back Pain Relief
Table of Contents
Exercises for your lower back pain should be about the mobility of the hips and back first and foremost. Strong abs and back muscles will keep the hips and back in a neutral position that alleviates pain. You must be able to hold the hip and back position through all daily movements. Thus, you must have to develop and maintain muscular strength and endurance for both your spine and abs (core).
In order for our bodies to function properly, without issues or without pain, we need to ensure we are exercising consistently and properly. For our backs in particular, exercise that strengthens the muscles in the surrounding areas will go a long way in preventing or reducing back pain. Keeping the muscles that support our spine strong will help to reduce these issues. Even exercises that don’t involve any equipment will work effectively. You will be able to do exercises for lower back pain from your home, at your convenience in order to keep your back, and its surrounding muscles strong and stabilized.
Specific muscle groups to focus on when thinking about back pain and back issues are your hamstrings, glutes, hips, and abdominal muscles, among others. These areas of our bodies help to stabilize our back. By keeping them strong and stable, you can help to better support your spine and lower back, reducing the chance of injury and general pain in those areas. In the following, we will discuss specific exercises to help with these muscle groups and maintain the strength in your back.
The hamstrings control the angle of your hips, which in turn controls the angle of your lower back. Doing this alone can be the trick to eliminating your back pain. Hamstring stretches are great for increasing mobility in your legs and in turn, stabilizing your lower back. By consistently stretching your hamstrings, you will be lengthening the muscles, reducing tension in the area and, as a result, reducing lower back stress. An effective hamstring stretch is performed while lying down on your back. While on your back, take a towel and loop it around the bottom of your foot. While straightening your knee, slowly pull the towel towards your chest until you start to feel a gentle stretch in your hamstrings. Hold this stretch for between 15-30 seconds, repeating 2-4 times for each leg.
2. Activate your mutifidus
The multifidus (multifidi, pl.) is a series of small muscles that run from the sacrum (tailbone) to the axis (C2, second cervical) and are responsible for extension and stabilization of the spine. The best exercise for this is the prone cobra although depending on your pain you may need to start with an easier progression, see below:
3. Strengthen your transverse abdominals.
Not just those six pack abs that we all wish we had, but the transverse abdominals that are the most important muscle of your “core.” They are responsible for keeping the spine and hip locked in place when moving and is the main muscle in stabilizing the core. The best exercise for strengthening this muscle, dyna disc crunches:
4. Glute Bridge/Bridge Exercise
Our glutes are hugely important in supporting our lower back, stabilizing our spine, and strengthening our posture in general. If our glutes become weak, other areas of your body will try to compensate for the lack of support. By putting too much stress on your hamstrings and hips, it will affect your lower back and create more pain in the area.
The is a good option for strengthening your glutes. To perform, start by lying on the floor, face up with your arms at your sides, knees bent, and keeping your feet and heels flat on the floor. Lift your hips off of the ground until your knees, hips, and shoulders are in a straight line. Really engage your glute muscles during this process to ensure you are working this area of your body. Hold this position for 1-2 seconds and slowly return to the floor, but making sure to only slightly touch before completing another rep. You can add an exercise band to go above your knees in order to force your muscles to engage the way they are meant to throughout this exercise.
5. Bird Dog
This exercise for lower back pain is
great for relieving high pressure stress on your spine and discs. Specifically, the exercise works your lower back muscles, hips, glutes and hamstrings. To perform the Bird Dog, begin on all fours keeping your hands directly below your shoulders and your knees under your hips. Reach your right arm forward and your left leg back, keeping them parallel to the floor. Really push through your left heel during this stage
of the exercise to engage the muscles in the back of your leg. Avoid swaying your hips in either direction and sagging your chest towards the floor. Slowly return to the starting position
While performing the exercise, focusing on engaging your abdominal muscles will help with your lower back strength and support. You will begin to notice you can hold the position longer over time. and repeat with the opposite arm and leg. For each rep, you should hold the stretch for 10 seconds before returning to your starting position and perform 5-10 reps.
Hyperextensions work by strengthening you lower back muscles, specifically by increasing flexibility in the area. This increased flexibility will reduce the risk of injury by better supporting and stabilizing your spine while eliminating stress within your lower back. They are a great option for recovering from lower back pain issues. If you are performing this without any equipment, using an exercise/stability ball will do the trick. Begin by putting the soles of your feet up against the wall, while remaining on your knees. Keeping the stability ball in front of you, lay on the ball and begin to roll out until your legs are straight and your feet remain on the wall. Keeping your feet shoulder width apart will allow you to have more stability throughout the exercise. Next, reach your hands behind your head and begin to raise your chest up off of the ball, hold for a brief moment and slowly return your chest to the ball. Focus on engaging your lower back muscles to perform this lift.
Exercises and activities to avoid
Not all exercises and stretches are good for our backs. There are some things you should avoid when trying to strengthen your supporting muscles. For example, performing a standing, touch-toe stretch can actually put more stress and strain on your back. In particular, your discs and ligaments within your spine will feel the stress from this stretch. They also tend to overstretch areas like your hamstrings and lower back muscles, creating more harm than good. Classic sit-ups are another common exercise people perform that actually put excess pressure on the discs in your spine. Instead try partial crunches, which strengthen your core and back muscles. The smaller movements in this exercise prevent too much stress being put on your lower back and spine.
These exercises are easy to do and require no special equipment. Try to commit to this exercise routine for 10 days, and let us know how it worked for you.
At Bay State Pain Associates , we take pride in helping you find the proper exercises for lower back pain and developing treatment plans such as physical therapy or spinal injections to help reduce your back pain. Consider contacting our team to discuss your specific symptoms and experiences so that we can help you to get back to living well and eliminating your back pain.
6. Effective Stretches to Help Back Pain
Stiffness and lack of stabilization are two common reasons that a person may experience back pain. Taking the time to make sure you are incorporating stretching exercises into your day will help to prevent this rigidity. Stretching is something that you can conveniently do throughout your day and is an easy way to reduce the stress on your back. In the following blog, we will discuss various stretches to help with your back pain.
Using Stretches to Help Back Pain
Stretching accomplishes two main things for your back: it reduces muscles tension around and supporting your spine, and also increases your range of motion. Couple this with the fact that it’s something you can do in your own home as well as having a variety of exercises to choose from, stretching is an important remedy for anyone experiencing back pain.
Stretches to Help Upper Back Pain
A common reason that people experience upper back pain is bad posture. Sitting hunched over at a desk at work all day can take a toll on your upper back. By performing the following stretches, you can help to open up your chest and back muscles, preventing those upper back pains from becoming more of an issue later on.
1. THORACIC EXTENSION
Your Thoracic Spine is the middle area of the vertebrae between your neck and your lower back. Thoracic mobility is an important aspect of maintaining good posture and helping to reduce the chance of pain in the upper back. Spending hours sitting at work with bad posture can lead to stiffness in this area which can result in a sort of “rounding” of the Thoracic spine. This is what causes poor posture, and eventually upper back pain.
Thoracic Extensions are stretches designed to help with the issue of poor Thoracic mobility. These stretches will help to “roll out” those stiff muscles around the spine (chest, lats) as well as the area of the Thoracic Spine itself.
To perform the Thoracic Extension using a foam roller, position the foam roller on the floor and lie back on it so it’s positioned in the middle to upper section of your back, keeping your feet flat on the floor. Placing your hands behind your head and pulling your elbows close together, let your head gently fall to the floor and extend your Thoracic spine over the foam roller. Next, slowly roll up and down the spine, focusing on any particularly painful areas. It’s important to make sure you aren’t extending the rolling up to your neck or down to your lower back as this can result in hyper extension and further injury.
2. CHILD’S POSE WITH ROTATION
Child’s Pose is a beginner Yoga pose that will help stretch muscles, reduce stress and help with fatigue. Adding the rotation portion will help to focus the stretch in the Thoracic spine region as well as the shoulder area.
To perform this stretch with the rotation, start in a kneeling position on the floor, sitting back on both of your heels with your big toes touching each other and separating your knees so that they are the same width as your hips. Place both hands on the floor in front of you and begin by leaning your chest downward making sure to really focus on the stretch in your lower back as well as your lats. Placing the back of one hand on the floor, directly under your chest, slide your arm so that it is perpendicular to your body. Continue this motion until both of your shoulders are essentially stacked on top of each other, keeping your head facing the same direction that your body is moving. Hold this position for 5-10 seconds and then return to the starting position, repeating this on the other side.
3. BUTTERFLY WINGS
This is a stretch that you can perform even while you’re sitting at work. In order to reduce that stiffness you experience in your upper back, use the butterfly wings stretch to help loosen up the muscles in between your shoulders. To perform this stretch, sit up straight with your fingertips touching the top of shoulders and your elbows pointed out to the side. While keeping your fingers on the tops of your shoulders exhale and slowly bring your elbows in front of you until they’re touching. Then inhale and slowly bring your elbows back to the starting position. Repeating these steps as necessary throughout your day at work will help reduce that stiffness in your upper back.
Stretches to help Lower Back Pain
Lower back pain is something we all go through at some point. As we age, our spine gradually goes through degenerative changes that results in less space between the vertebrae, causing those common back pain issues. By stretching the area around our spine, we take some of that pressure off the area in the lower back and alleviate the pain.
4. SINGLE KNEE TO CHEST
As with the other areas of our back, the muscles and limbs surrounding the area directly affect the back itself. For the lower back in particular, hip and hamstring tightness are common culprits for experiencing pain. The single knee to chest stretch is an easy way to address this issue and loosen up those muscles in the hips, hamstrings and glutes. To perform this stretch, start by laying on your back, bending one knee and keeping the other straight. Place both hands behind the bent knee and slowly pull that knee towards your chest until you feel a stretch going down the back of your leg. Hold this position for 30-60 seconds and repeat the process with the other leg. Perform this stretch 3-5 times for each leg.
5. PRAYER STRETCH
The Prayer Stretch is another form of the child’s pose we discussed above, only this time we won’t include the rotation aspect in order to focus on the lower back. This stretch will focus on flexing the spine and relieving the stress on the lower back. Begin by kneeling on the floor and sitting back on your heels, touching your big toes together. Keeping your knees the same width as your hips, bend forward at your waist and extend your arms over your head and onto the floor in front of you. Extend until you feel the stretch in your lower back and hold this position for 30-60 seconds and return to the starting kneeling position. Repeat these steps 3-5 times.
6. PELVIC TILT
Core stability and strength is an important factor in maintaining a healthy back and taking the stress off the lower back in particular. Lack of core strength and stability will put more onus on the lower back to support and stabilize your body, resulting in lower back pain. The Pelvic Tilt is an easy way to improve your core stability. To perform this stretch, lay back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. You can keep your arms either behind your head or down by your sides. Now tighten your abdominal muscles, pressing the lower portion of your back into the floor. Hold this position (keeping your abdominal muscles tight) for 10 seconds and repeat this process 20 times.
How can I treat back pain?
If you are consistently finding yourself suffering from back pain, these stretches will go a long way in alleviating that. However, if your pain is being caused by a more serious issue than the common issues that most people are faced with, it would be a good idea to seek professional advice and attention. At Bay State Pain we can provide that for you, finding the best ways to alleviate the pain you’re experiencing and help to prevent those issues from persisting. Schedule a consultation today and speak with our team so that we can help you get back to living well.