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According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS), lower back pain is the most frequent cause of disability on the job, and Americans collectively spend around $50 billion on treatments for this type of back pain annually. Fortunately, you can also treat your lower back pain without surgery or drugs. Try a few basic stretching and strengthening exercises for back pain to prevent and relieve your lower back pain and support muscles.
Great Stretches and Strengthening Exercises for Back Pain
This is one of the great initial exercises for back pain. Lie on your back and bend one knee. Loop a towel under the ball of your foot. Straighten your knee and slowly pull back on the towel. You should feel a gentle stretch down the back of your leg. Hold for at least 15 to 30 seconds. Do 2 to 4 times for each leg.
Stand 10 to 12 inches from the wall, then lean back until your back is flat against the wall. Slowly slide down until your knees are slightly bent, pressing your lower back into the wall. Hold for a count of 10, then carefully slide back up the wall. Repeat 8 to 12 times.
Press-up Back Extensions
Lie on your stomach with your hands under your shoulders. Push with your hands so your shoulders begin to lift off the floor. If it’s comfortable for you, put your elbows on the floor directly under your shoulders and hold this position for several seconds.
Start on your hands and knees, and tighten your stomach muscles. Lift and extend one leg behind you. Keep hips level. Hold for 5 seconds, and then switch to the other leg. Repeat 8 to 12 times for each leg, and try to lengthen the time you hold each lift. Try lifting and extending your opposite arm for each repetition. This exercise is a great way to learn how to stabilize the low back during movement of the arms and legs. While doing this exercise don’t let the lower back muscles sag. Only raise the limbs to heights where the low back position can be maintained.
Knee to Chest
Lie on your back with knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Bring one knee to your chest, keeping the other foot flat on the floor. Keep your lower back pressed to the floor, and hold for 15 to 30 seconds. Then lower your knee and repeat with the other leg. Do this 2 to 4 times for each leg.
Lie on your back with knees bent, feet flat on floor. Tighten your stomach by contracting it as though you were preparing for a punch. You’ll feel your back pressing into the floor, and your hips and pelvis rocking back. Hold for 10 seconds while breathing in and out smoothly. Repeat 8 to 12 times.
Lie on your back with knees bent and just your heels on the floor. Push your heels into the floor, squeeze your buttocks, and lift your hips off the floor until shoulders, hips, and knees are in a straight line. Hold about 6 seconds, and then slowly lower hips to the floor and rest for 10 seconds. Repeat 8 to 12 times. Avoid arching your lower back as your hips move upward. Avoid overarching by tightening your abdominal muscles prior and throughout the lift.
Lifting Weights May Help
Done properly, lifting weights can also be good exercises for back pain. In fact, it may help relieve chronic back pain. But when you have acute (sudden) back pain, putting extra stress on back muscles and ligaments could raise risk of further injury. Ask your doctor whether you should lift weights, and which exercises to avoid.
Aerobic exercise strengthens your lungs, heart, and blood vessels and can help you lose weight. Walking, swimming, and biking may all help reduce back pain. Start with short sessions and build up over time. If your back is hurting, try swimming, where the water supports your body. Avoid any strokes that twist your body.
Some Pilates Moves
Besides those stretching and strengthening back exercises for back pain above, you can also try Pilates, which combines stretching, strengthening, and core abdominal exercises. Under the instruction of an experienced teacher, it may help some people with lower back pain. Be sure to tell your teacher about your lower back pain, because you may need to skip some moves. We will cover more detailed Pilates moves in a future article!
Generally speaking, stretching and strengthening back exercises are the most typical way to prevent and ease lower back pain. However, since every case is different, it is advisable to first be evaluated by a physician and, as appropriate, receive guidance on how to do these stretching and strengthening back exercises above by a back specialist.