Are you suffering from lower back pain? We’re sure this won’t make you feel much better, but the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke reports that 80% of adults experience lower back pain at some point in their lifetimes. It’s actually the leading cause of job-related disability and missed workdays.
The National Institute of Health (NIH) reports that, according to a recent survey, more than a quarter of adults said they experienced low back pain during the past three months.
One thing you already know about lower back pain: it hurts. Your first impulse may be to retire (or crawl) to your bed and wait for the pain to go away, but that old-school explanation for treating lower back pain no longer flies. Today, experts say that the best thing for a troubled lower back is to remain active and abstain from too much bed rest.
Of course, these exercises for lower back pain do not necessarily equate to swimming the English Channel or climbing Mount Everest. We recommend 8 gentle, but effective ways to strengthen your lower back.
- 1 What you should know before you begin these exercises for lower back pain relief
- 2 Small Steps, Big Impact
What you should know before you begin these exercises for lower back pain relief
As with any new routine, check in with your doctor first. Try to get a professional diagnosis and find the cause of your pain. Knowledge is power, especially when you plan to conquer a problem this complex and sensitive. If you are interested in exploring symptoms and diagnoses of lower back pain further, you are invited to read our previous article, Lower Back Pain: Symptoms & Diagnoses.
Some exercises may only worsen your problem if you don’t have a clear understanding of what may be causing the trouble in the first place. It has to be the right exercise in order to provide relief. If you experience any pain while performing these exercises, stop and consult your doctor. These exercises have not been evaluated by a physician and may not be right for anyone with a serious condition.
- Always respect your body’s boundaries and listen to how your body is feeling. Use your own discretion.
- Take it easy at first. Ease into it.
- Warm-up your body before you stretch it. Don’t “over-stretch.” Hold each stretch for about 30 seconds each, or less.
1. Work both sides of your body with leg raises
Your stomach and back muscles are closely related, and work as a team. Your tummy could actually be the weak link, with your lower-back trying to pick up the slack and causing your distress. If so, you may want to consider strengthening and tightening your stomach. Try this:
- Lie on your side.
- Bring one leg up as high as you can (without straining yourself).
- Hold your leg up for 1-5 seconds.
- Now do the same with the other leg. Remember to breathe and release. Don’t hold your breath while you do this!
- Try 6-8 reps on each leg. (If your back hurts while attempting this? Don’t continue!).
2. Put your belly to work
Your transverse abdominis, also known as the TVA muscle and seen on some people as a six-pack, is the deepest layer of your abdominal muscles.
If you are moving your arms and legs, your TVA is being called to work, so it’s good to keep it strong and tight. A weak one can definitely affect your lower back. Here’s one way to kick it into high gear:
- Lie on your back and bend your knees. Stay relaxed.
- Tuck in your chin.
- Take a deep breath and gently draw your belly button inwards, toward your spine. Hold this position and your breath for 5-10 seconds.
- Breathe out and relax your stomach.
- Repeat this 5-6 times.
3. Do the “bridge” yoga pose
Here is another way to stretch out your lower back simply and gently, this time facing the ceiling.
- Lie on your back and bend your knees.
- Place your feet flat on the floor, no wider than your hips.
- Breathe in, then slowly breathe out and lift your hips off the floor until your shoulders, hips and knees are in straight alignment.
- Breathe in and slowly lower your hips to the floor.
- Repeat 8-12 times.
4. Crawl into a child’s yoga pose
Do you have a herniated disk (or think you may have one)? Pass on this one. Instead, you may find relief with topical products such as CBDMEDIC™’s Back & Neck Pain Relief Ointment. Otherwise, ease into this exercise with a gentle try:
- Get on your hands and knees. Your knees should be directly under your hips; your hands should be directly under your shoulders. Your spine should be relaxed. Keep your head in line with your spine. Keep your shoulders back. Don’t lock your elbows.
- As you breathe in and out, move your backside toward your heels and hold that stretch for about 30 seconds at the most.
- Breathe in again and bring your body back to the original position.
- Repeat 6-8 times.
5. Stretch those hamstrings
Hamstrings are located on the back of your legs, and lower back pain could send them trouble. Since these two areas work together and need to get along, stretching out your hamstrings may help relieve your lower back stress.
- Lie on your back with both feet on the floor. Raise up your knees.
- Use a resistance band or wrap a towel around the ball of your foot.
- Slowly straighten your knee while gently pulling on the towel. Give your hamstrings a good but gentle stretch. Hold for 30 seconds.
- Repeat twice for each leg.
6. Do the lunge
The technical term for your hips: flexor muscles, which can often get tight when you’re experiencing lower back discomfort. This can also affect your posture. Try this:
- Kneel with one knee on the floor
- Place your other foot in front with that leg’s knee bent.
- Slowly push your hips forward while keeping your back straight.
- Hold for 20-30 seconds.
- Repeat about 2 times on each leg.
7. Get your spine in-line
This one actually feels good! It stretches your spine, which leads to all good things for the parts connected.
- Lie on your back.
- Bend your knees and keep them together (touching)
- Tuck in your chin.
- Breathe in and let your knees fall to one side. Remember to keep both shoulders on the floor.
- Take another breath and return to the starting position.
- Repeat 6-8 times on each leg.
Small Steps, Big Impact
Lower back pain can take a toll on you and your life. These easy exercises can have a big impact on your recovery. They’ll help work your core muscles to improve stability & flexibility and (finally!) provide you with relief. We also have a superb guide that covers middle back pain.
If you’ve tried any of these exercises, or if you have any tips on how to find lower back pain relief, we invite you to share them with others in the comments below.