Best Back Exercises For Lower Back Pain
Although back pain can leave you feeling like movement is the last thing on your mind, exercise is an important part of your routine to strengthen the back, stomach, and leg muscles. These muscle groups will help support the muscles of the core and around the spine.
When having a health problem it is always best to talk to your health practitioner before starting any exercise program. It is also of the utmost importance to start slowly, and gradually build your flexibility and strength through slow progressive training. The last thing you want is to make your condition worse by over enthusiastic exercising.
Not all exercises for these muscle groups will be suitable for people with lower back pain, therefore, before I continue with the best back exercises for lower back pain I will list the exercises that I would not recommend you perform.
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Exercises unsuitable for lower back pain
Toe touches : Even for a back that has no issues these exercises are dubious in their benefits for back health. Standing toe touches, especially bouncing standing toe touches should not be attempted with lower back pain as they put undue stress on discs and ligaments of the lower back.(1.)
Sit ups : Although sit ups are synonymous with stomach strength, they actually use more of a hip movement to complete the exercise. Add to this the common neck straining and curling of the spine, they become a recipe for a neck and back strain.(2.)
Leg lifts : Leg lifts are an exercise commonly used to strengthen core and stomach muscles. The problem with raising two legs at the same time is that it is not only taxing on stomach muscles if they are weak but they can also strain lower back muscles. Both legs raised at the same time can be quite heavy and put a lot of strain on the lower back and raising the risk of increasing back pain.(3.)
Excessive rotation : Although movement is essential in your recovery, over rotating can cause problems for weak back muscles. Twisting actions should be performed slowly and certainly no jerking twists.
Lifting weights : Lifting weights can be a great way to strengthen the body’s muscles, however, when a person has a weak back or core it is essential to take extra care when performing these exercises. Make sure your core is clenched when lifting weights to support your back and do not lift the weights out from your body as it will add extra strain to your lower back. What is more, lift light and if you lift over your head, for example, shoulder presses, make sure you are sitting down. As with all exercises, increasing weight should be slow and gradual.
Exercises suitable for lower back pain
Lying hamstring stretches : These exercises can be performed instead of toe touches and are good to improve flexibility and suppleness in hamstring muscles. Lie on your back with one knee bent. Loop a towel around the other foot and straighten the leg while slowly pulling on the towel. Pull on the towel until you feel a gentle stretch on the back of your leg. Hold for up to 30 seconds and then change to the other leg. Perform this stretch for each leg 3 times.
Crunches : Where as sit ups are using stomach and hip muscles, crunches target stomach muscles only without putting strain on the lower back. Crunches are ideal for strengthening core muscles that will help support the spine. Lie flat on the floor with knees bent and lower back in contact with the floor/mat.
Cross your arms on your chest or put hands next to your ears and elbows out. Pick a spot in the ceiling above and in front of you and breathe out as you raise your shoulders. Keep your focus on the same spot in the ceiling and do not strain your neck forward. Hold for a second and then breathe in as you lower your shoulders back to the floor. Repeat movement 8 to 12 times.
Leg lift (one leg) : As said in the exercises to avoid section, lifting both legs off the ground can put unwanted strain on the lower back, however, the exercise can be performed with one leg. Lying flat on the floor with one knee bent on the floor, raise the other straight leg 6 – 12 inches off the floor keeping your lower back flat on the mat. Hold for a moment and then slowly lower. Repeat for 8-12 times on each leg.
Press up back extensions : Lying on your stomach with hands next to shoulders. Push up with your hands lifting your shoulders off the floor. If possible, place your elbows under your shoulders and rest in this position for 10 seconds.
Bird dog : Start in the box push-up position of hands directly under your shoulders and knees directly under the hips. Keeping your back flat and holding your core firm at all times, lift one leg and extend it behind you. Hold for a moment and then bring back your leg to its original position. Repeat for 10 and then change legs. As you become stronger, lengthen the amount of time you hold your leg extended.
Bridge : Lie flat on the ground with knees bent and feet on floor. Push your feet down into the ground while lifting your buttocks off the floor trying to align your body from knee to shoulder. Squeeze your buttocks and core muscles and hold for 5 seconds. Slowly lower your hips to the floor and relax. Repeat for another 10 times. Do not over arch your back at the top of this movement.
These stretches and exercises should get you started on your road to building up strength and flexibility in your back and core muscles. It is important to start slowly and gradually build strength by adding more time under exercise. If you feel pain in your back at any point, stop the exercise immediately. In addition to these exercises you may find another of my posts on the ‘Best diet for back pain – Why your diet may be causing you back pain’ worth checking out.
I hope you found this post ‘best back exercises for lower back pain’ helpful. If you have any other exercises to help lower back pain, please let me know by leaving a message in the comment box below. Have a nice day. 🙂