If you are reading this, you probably have lower back pain. Well you are not alone. In fact, 80% of adults will experience lower back pain at some point in their lives. It is common for the pain to be centered in the lower back and nonspecific, meaning there is no primary cause for the pain. And, 2 – 10% of those adults that experience lower back pain will develop chronic low back pain, which affects daily living for 3 months or more.
If you are wondering how to relieve lower back pain with exercise, then you are in the right place. I have listed some of the best exercises to help relieve your pain.
You may want to see and discuss any exercises you want to start doing with your doctor. They can give you the best advice and tell you what exercises are right for you and which ones aren’t.
Using Exercise to Relieve Pain
The majority of acute low back pain is mechanical in nature. This means there is a disruption in the way the components of the back (spine, muscles, disks, and nerves) fit together and move. The good news is, it tends to resolve itself with the practice of self care.
Gaining strength in the muscles that support the spine can lead to less pain and improved function. Weak muscles, especially those in the core and pelvis can lead to back pain or injury. The best way to strengthen those muscles and alliviate some of that pain is to regularly do these exercises I have listed below. They will strengthen your core, hips, and back, as well as help your balance.
Some mild discomfort and pain is to be expected when just beginning. It should ease up as you build the strength in your back. If you are having moderate or severe pain or pain that lasts more than 15 minutes, you should stop exercising and go see your doctor.
Drawing in Maneuver
The transverse abdominis is the muscle that wraps around the mid line. It helps support the spine and abdomen.
It’s important for stabilizing the spinal joints and preventing injury during movement.
- Lie on the ground with your feet flat on the floor, hip-width apart.
- Relax your hands by your sides.
- Take a deep breath in. Breathe out and pull your belly button into your spine, engaging your abdominal muscles without tilting your hips.
- Hold for 5 seconds.
- Repeat 5 times.
The abdominal muscles play a significant role in supporting the spine. Strong abdominal muscles can help maintain proper hip alignment. This can contribute to overall core strength and stability.
- Lie on the ground with your feet flat on the floor, keeping your knees bent.
- Cross your hands over your chest.
- Take a deep breath. While you breathe out, y pull your belly button in toward your spine.
- Slowly lift your shoulders off the ground a couple of inches. Try to keep your neck in line with your spine instead of rounding, to avoid pulling up with your neck.
- Return to starting position.
- Repeat 10 times.
- Perform 3 sets
Lateral Leg Raises
The hip abductor muscles help to raise the leg to the side, away from the body. They also help support the pelvis when standing on one leg.
When these muscles are weak, it can affect balance and mobility. It can also cause low back pain due to instability.
- Lie on one side, keeping your lower leg slightly bent on the ground.
- Engage your core by drawing your belly button into your spine.
- Raise the top leg without moving the rest of your body.
- Hold for 2 seconds at the top. Repeat 10 times.
- Repeat on other side. Perform 3 sets on each side.
- Stand with your back facing the wall at a distance of about 10 to 12 inches.
- Carefully lean into the wall until your back is flat against it.
- Slide down the wall slowly until your knees are bent slightly. Continue to press your low back into the wall.
- Hold this position for 10 seconds, then carefully slide back up the wall.
- Repeat 8 to 12 times.
The bird dog is a great way to learn to stabilize the low back during movements of the arms and legs.
- To begin, get on your hands and knees.
- Tighten your abdominal muscles.
- With one leg, lift and extend it behind you while keeping your hips level. Lift the opposite arm above your head.
- Hold that position for 10 seconds.
- Go back to starting position and switch to other arm and leg and repeat.
- Do 10 on each side.
Walking to Reduce Pain
Walking can lessen pain, boost strength and healing, increase flexibility, and prevent recurrences. A study showed a single walking session can reduce back pain by 10 – 50%.
Walking works because It stimulates the brain to release serotonin and endorphins, neurotransmitter chemicals that make you feel better mentally and physically. It also blocks pain with distraction.
Start out slow and easy, and slowly build up the time and distance. If you experience any shooting leg pain or numbness, stop and see your doctor.
Tips to Help Manage Lower Back Pain
Eat Right: Eating too much of the wrong foods leads to inflammation throughout the body and leaves out much-needed nutrients. Your body needs lean protein, whole grains, fruits and vegetables, healthy fats, and plenty of vitamin D and Calcium to make sure you build strong bones, muscles, and soft tissue.
Watch your Posture: Bad posture puts strain and stress on your back and can alter the shape of your spine. Stand up tall. Shoulders back, head and knees straight, belly tucked in. If you are sitting, feet flat on floor. Put a pillow behind your lower back for support. Sit all the way back in your seat. You will not only look and feel better, but it also protects the intricate pieces of your spine, to keep it healthy and functioning properly. Avoid slouching.
When you sleep: You want to pick a mattress that is firm enough for your back, but soft enough to fit the shape of your body, and a pillow that supports your neck properly, like memory foam or down feather. The best positions to sleep in with back pain are on your side with a pillow between your knees, on your stomach with a pillow under your hips, or on your back in a reclined position.
Stop smoking: Smokers are 3 times more likely to get back pain. Smoking weakens the bones and slows healing. It limits the flow of nutrient containing blood to the spinal disks and that makes them break down much more quickly.
Lighten your load: Improper or heavy lifting is a common cause of back pain It can happen to anyone, anywhere. Heavy groceries, a bulky laptop bag, a suitcase, a laundry basket, that is just a few examples of loads that can strain your back. Make sure you practice proper lifting. If it is too heavy, carry less at one time, use a bag with 2 straps instead of one, or a bag with wheels so you don’t have to carry it at all. Push rather than pull objects. And don’t twist your body when lifting.
Maintain your Weight: Extra pounds, especially in your midsection, can make back pain worse by shifting your center of gravity and putting strain on your lower back. Staying within 10 pounds of your idea weight may help control back pain.
By taking steps to strengthen, stretch, and protect your core and back, you can ideally slow down or stop back pain all together. Do these exercises regularly and start walking more and you should definitely feel the difference. I hope this article has helped you figure out how to relieve lower back pain with exercise.
If you have any questions or comments feel free to leave them at the bottom. Suggestions always welcome!