Did you know that exercises for lower back pain can help relieve multiple uncomfortable symptoms and prevent future ones from occurring? Whether you’re recovering from a spine-related injury, condition or surgical procedure, specific back exercises can strengthen the muscles and improve flexibility in the low back.
At OrthoAspen, we are dedicated to providing patients with the most advanced, conservative spinal care available. Our ultimate goal is to usher Roaring Fork Valley athletes, recreational die-hards, and visitors back to the slopes, trails, courts, and rock faces they love, as quickly and safely as possible.
What Exercises Are Good for Lower Back Pain?
Before diving into exercises to help lower back pain, let’s take a look at some of the common injuries and conditions that might cause low back pain:
- Degenerative disc disease
- Herniated discs
- Infections (less common)
- Inflammatory diseases (arthritis, osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis)
- Nerve compression
- Sciatica (compression of the sciatic nerve)
- Scoliosis (curvature of the spine)
- Spinal fractures
- Spondylolisthesis (when the lower spine slips out of place)
- Stenosis (narrowing of the spinal canal)
- Tumors (typically a more rare source of low back pain)
Many of these spinal injuries and conditions can be triggered by certain sports and occupations that involve heavy lifting, as well as pregnancy and aging in general. Studies demonstrate that upwards of 80% of adults experience low back pain at some point in their life. With appropriate treatment, including physical therapy exercises for lower back pain, many people can recover between two to 12 weeks.
Depending on your specific condition or injury, an orthopedic physician may suggest exercises that engage the following muscles of the spine:
- Cervical spine
- Latissimus dorsi
- Back extensors and erector spinae
- Quadratus lumborum
- External oblique rotators
- Internal oblique rotators
- Gluteus maximus
- Gluteus medius
It’s always important to check with an expert prior to performing a low back stretch or exercise. With a precision diagnosis, your OrthoAspen spine specialist can create a customizable treatment plan to ensure a safe and effective return to the life in motion you depend upon.
Three Back Exercises for Lower Back Pain You Have to Try
Not only are these exercises easy to perform; they’ll also feel good! And, the best part about these exercises for lower back pain is that they can be performed daily (some multiple times per day).
- Cat and Cow Yoga Pose
There are many yoga exercises for lower back pain. The cat and cow stretches present a perfect example. To start either pose, you should position yourself on all fours over a mat (just make sure you’re on an even surface). Your legs and arms should be hip-distance apart. Place the tops of the feet on the floor. Plant your palms firmly on the ground, with the fingers facing forward. To go into a cow pose, crane the neck and head slightly forward and up. Let your abdominals drop while keeping your shoulders from lifting (or scrunching up) toward your ears. Hold for a few seconds before returning to a neutral spine. To enter a cat pose, slowly drop the head and neck. Arch your back while gripping your abdominal muscles inward. Hold for a few seconds and then release to a neutral spine. Repeat the cat or cow stretch three to five times, twice a day.
- Knee to Chest
Laying on your back on a flat surface, you can begin by lifting one leg with the knee angled toward your chest. Hold the knee or shin to bring the leg as close to your chest as possible. Grip the abdominal muscles to keep the resting leg planted on the ground while the lifted leg stays positioned against your chest. Do not force the stretch. Hold for five seconds, making sure your spine is firmly rooted to the ground. Release the bent leg and repeat on the other side. Repeat ten times, alternating legs. When complete, bring both legs into the chest and hold.
- Sitting Rotation Stretch
In yoga, this stretch is referred to as a Marichyasana, which means “ray of light.” Start by sitting with both legs straight in front of you. Bend one leg, and place your foot either on the inner thigh of the straight leg (as pictured) or crossed over to the floor by the outer thigh. With a straight back, twist toward the bended knee. Either place your opposite hand on the bent knee or if you can, bend your elbow and place it on the outer portion of the bent knee. Try to make sure your sit bones are firmly rooted and hold the stretch for 30 seconds. Repeat on the other side, with a total of four sequences.
More Stretches and Exercises for Lower Back Pain Relief
At OrthoAspen, we can offer even more stretches and exercises for lower back pain relief. A healthy spine is essential for you to enjoy life and abundant opportunities for adventure in the Roaring Fork Valley. A spine specialist is here to help you receive the best conservative spinal care available, with the convenience and flexibility you deserve—right within your very own community.
Ready for the expert orthopedic care you deserve? Schedule an appointment now, or contact us today at 970-544-1289 for any questions.