17 Apr 5 exercises to relieve lower back pain
If you have lower back pain, then it’s vital that you understand how the right exercises can relieve pain and build the important muscles you need. The key is knowing which muscle groups to focus on and how to target them safely and effectively.
Research led by the US National Institute for Health has found that around 80 per cent of people suffer back pain at some point in their lives, so you’re not alone. The report also listed weak abdominal and back muscles as one of the most important risk factors for back pain.
So, you can do something about your back pain, and it’s not as difficulty as you might think. In my experience, these five exercises will help you to relieve pain and build strength in key muscles.
Partial Crunch: Strengthening abs
You can go a long way towards reducing lower back pain by building up your abdominal muscles, because strong abs help to align your spine correctly. The partial crunch is a perfect exercise for this.
Prepare by lying on your back with your soles firmly on the floor, then slowly exhale and just lift your shoulders off the floor while squeezing your tummy tight. Count to two and then lower your shoulders again. Rest then repeat.
If you’re doing this for the first time you might feel some discomfort in your abdominal muscles, because your muscles are doing something very new! Don’t worry: As you build your strength it should hurt less.
Knee to Chest: Building strength gently
Just as the partial crunch helps to build your abdominals, so does the knee to chest, but with the added benefit of being an even better option for older people, individuals with disabilities, or even someone recovering from injury.
Lie on the ground with your knees bent and your feet flat, then inhale and bring one of your knees up toward your torso. Breathe out as you return to your original position, then repeat with the other knee.
If you have trouble getting down on to the ground, this exercise can be also done on a firm bed.
Bird Dog: Reducing back pain
If you want to really target your lower back pain, the Bird Dog is a great exercise regardless of your ability.
Begin on all fours with your hands directly beneath your shoulders and your knees placed right below your hips. Keep your back straight, tighten your abdominals, take a deep breath and extend one of your arms and the opposite leg. For example, you would lift your right arm with your left leg.
It’s important that your back stays neutral: no arching or sagging. It can help to do this in front of a mirror, so you can see if your back starts to move out of that neutral position. Good technique is always important, but even more so with the position of your back in an exercise like this.
Hold the pose for a few seconds, breathe out and return to your starting position, rest briefly and repeat with your other limbs.
Bridge: Strengthen back muscles
It’s common that back pain is not caused by the back itself, but by weaknesses in muscles that seem far removed from where you feel the actual pain. So, I always recommend exercises that build up strength in as many related muscles as possible.
The Bridge exercise does this brilliantly by targeting a range of muscles groups, including the hamstrings (back of the thigh), glutes (buttocks), abdominals, and hips.
Lie on the floor on your back, bend your knees and spread your feet apart about a foot. Inhale and lift your hips into the air until they are at knee-level. After a few seconds, exhale and return to your original position. You may only be able to do a few reps of this exercise at first, but a little practice should enable you to handle longer sessions.
Leg Stretch: Targets tight hamstrings to ease back pain
One of the worst culprits when it comes to back pain is the hamstrings. We spend so much time sitting down that these big, powerful muscles at the back of the thigh become short and tight. That means they may pull down on your pelvis, often unevenly, and cause back pain.
To loosen up your hamstrings, lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet on the floor. Next, wrap a towel or resistance band around one of your feet, straighten your knee, and slowly pull back on the towel so your leg lifts into the air slightly and your toes are pulled back towards you. Hold this pose for about 20 or 30 seconds.
You will soon begin to feel a stretch down the back of your leg. Once you have stretched out one leg, you can repeat with the other.
Lower back pain affects millions of people all over the world, but by using these exercises, you can stop it ruining your life. There are lots of other exercises, including many you can easily do at home.