Did you know that 60-80% of adults suffer from back pain at some point during their lives? When pain in the lower back reaches a critical point, it can interfere with the ability to enjoy life and take part in sports, activities and exercise.
While routine exercise is a common casualty of back pain, it can also be a central part of the solution. The majority of mild and moderate pain can be effectively mitigated with exercises for lower back pain. That’s great news for our active Aspen area patients who prefer conservative care that promotes comprehensive wellbeing.
Implementing a proactive regimen of exercises for spine and lower back health can help to not only reduce lower back pain, but it can also prevent back pain from ever becoming an issue. Whether you’re interested in preventive exercises or remedial lower back pain physical therapy for your pre-existing issues, the physicians at OrthoAspen can provide you with the direction and care you need.
10 Easy Exercises For Lower Back Pain Relief
It may seem counterintuitive that you can exercise lower back pain away, but practiced regularly, many of the exercises and stretches below will help build strength. Stronger abdominal muscles, in particular, will help support the spine and typically keep pain at bay.
Take a look at 10 recommended exercises and stretches for preventing and treating lower back pain (you can try these lower back exercises at home):
- Hamstring Stretches
Why would stretching the hamstrings help to relieve back pain? Tight hamstrings prevent erect posture while sitting, which can put stress on the spinal discs of the lower back. To prevent degenerative disc disease and alleviate pain, perform the following exercise one-to-two times daily: Lie on your back, bend one knee, and hold the corresponding leg from behind the knee. Then straighten the knee while pointing your toes in the direction of your head; hold for 30 seconds.
- Knee-to-Chest Stretch
Knee-to-chest stretches are broadly recommended for relieving lower back strain and associated symptoms. To perform this stretch, lie on your back with bent knees and feet pressed flat against the floor. Grasp both hands under one knee, lift the corresponding leg, then bring the knee to your chest while keeping the opposite foot planted on the floor. Hold for 15 to 30 seconds, making sure that your lower back is flat against the floor.
- Psoas Major Muscle Exercise
Tightness in the psoas major muscle is one of the most common causes of lower thoracic and lumbar spinal pain. This muscle is attached to the front of the lower spine and is a major factor in lower back mobility. To target the psoas major and relieve associated pain, kneel on one knee, then rotate your leg outward while tightening the corresponding glute; then, lean forward (without bending the spine) to stretch the muscle along the front of the hip. Hold for 30 seconds, then repeat.
- Abdominal Exercises for Spinal Stability
Did you know that lower back core workouts can help to increase spinal stability? This is particularly true of exercises that build up the transversus abdominis muscles (TVA). To target the TVA in your abdominal exercise, lie on your back with bent knees and draw your belly button toward the spine; then lift the head and shoulders and reach upwards until the shoulder blades are just above the floor. Hold for one to two seconds, then repeat.
- Cat/Cow Stretch
To provide relief and stretch the muscles surrounding the lumbar spine while also tightening the abdominal muscles, get down on your hands and knees so that wrists are parallel to the knees. Begin by allowing the abdomen to drop, while the head points to the ceiling—make sure to engage the shoulders. For cat pose, round the shoulders and gently arch the back toward the ceiling, while dropping the head toward the floor. Hold each pose for a few seconds before releasing.
- Sitting Rotation Stretch
Seated twists can often provide rapid relief of lower back pain. To perform a sitting rotation stretch, sit on the floor with your legs straight, feet flexed toward the ceiling. Bend one knee and cross that leg over the other straight leg. Slowly twist toward the bent leg. If you can, hook your opposite elbow to the bent knee. You can place your free hand behind you for support. Hold for 30 seconds and then switch legs. Repeat each side four times.
- Bridge Pose
Bridge Pose is ideal for working your lower back extensor, erector spinae, gluteal muscles and hamstrings. Lay down with your arms at your sides. Bend both knees, scooting your heels as close to your buttocks as possible. Slowly lift your pelvis while tightening your gluteal and abdominal muscles. Hold for 15 seconds and then slowly lower. Try doing five repetitions at a time.
- Standing Forward Fold
With the big toes of both feet close together, heels slightly apart, bend over two straight legs. If your hamstrings are tight, slightly bend both knees. This stretch will help loosen the hamstrings and provide relief to the lumbar spine. Try to hold it for a count of five. Make sure to roll up slowly, one vertebra at a time until your head is the last part of your body to be lifted.
- Seated Forward Fold
Instead of standing, sit on the floor, both legs stretched in front of you. With as straight of a back as possible, reach your arms toward your toes. If hamstrings are tight, you can create a slight bend in the knees. Like a standing forward fold, roll up to an erect seated posture slowly, one vertebra at a time.
- Garland Pose
Also referred to as “malasana” in the yoga world, garland pose is not only helpful for lower back pain relief, it’s a wonderful hip opener. If you don’t have knee issues get down into a wide squat with both feet facing away from one another. Allow your buttocks to drop toward the ground. If possible, put the palms together so that your elbows are resting inside the of the knees. If it feels comfortable, shift your weight slightly from side to side.
Looking for More Ways to Improve Lower Back Pain?
While the exercises listed above can effectively reduce low-grade lower back symptoms, more serious symptoms may require additional treatment. If you experience persistent pain, it’s important to seek the expertise of a certified, skilled orthopedic specialist.
At OrthoAspen, we have a conservative care spine specialist ready to help. We also work closely with licensed physical therapists at each stage of treatment. For patients suffering from persistent, lifestyle-compromising symptoms, OrthoAspen can develop personalized exercise and therapy regimens to target and relieve back pain at its source.
In more serious cases, other treatment options—ranging from anti-inflammatory medication to lumbar spinal surgery—may be recommended.
If you’d like to learn more about exercises for lower back pain or would like to schedule an appointment, contact OrthoAspen today at 970-544-1289.