11 Exercises for Lower Back Pain Relief

11 Exercises for Lower Back Pain Relief

5. Straighten up.
Slumping and slouching are often a culprit in back pain symptoms, especially among overweight or obese women, says LynnAnn Covell, a physical therapist and senior fitness specialist at Green Mountain at Fox Run, a women’s weight-loss center in Vermont.

“The pelvis can tilt to stabilize additional weight on the skeletal system, causing lower-back muscles to tighten,” she says.

Tip: If you slouch, practice good posture. Align your spine a few times a day by standing straight, lining up head, shoulders, hips, knees and feet. This helps alleviate tension when you have lower-back pain, Covell says.

And wear shorter-heeled shoes.

“Wearing high heels may also contribute to an unstable postural alignment,” she adds.

6. Don’t skip your warm-up.

Many back pain issues occur when we suddenly put pressure on the spine without warming up, says Covell.

“Before attempting activities such as resistance exercises or working in the garden, perform some simple stretches.”

Tip: One good pre-activity stretch is a yoga move called the cat-cow: Start on your hands and knees with your back straight and your head and neck in line. On an inhale, drop your belly toward the ground and look up toward the ceiling (cow pose). On an exhale, tuck in your stomach, arch your back and lower your head to your chest (cat pose). Do it gently, and stop if you feel any pain.

And, before any exercise, warm up for 5 to 10 minutes with a low-level cardio routine (such as walking). This gets blood circulating and may help you avoid injury or worsened back issues over time.

Lower back pain is one of the most common forms of chronic pain among adults.

You feel it each time you bend over or stand up. It’s that groan-inspiring ache that shoots through your lower back and never seems to fully go away. Sometimes called lumbago or spondylosis, lower back pain is one of the most common forms of chronic pain among adults.

Maybe you’ve been resting, hoping the back pain just needs time to heal. But most doctors now encourage lower back pain sufferers to get active and move their backs and related muscles as a better pain relief treatment.

Movement can help relieve back pain, but only the right kind; avoid workouts that put too much stress and strain on the back. So which exercises should you choose? That partly depends on how intense your pain is, and what causes it. So, you should always get the recommendation of your doctor before doing any heavy exertion for lower back pain.

The following slides present several simple exercises that can help relieve lower back pain, and also highlight a few activities to avoid. With your doctor’s approval, adding these movements to your workout routine can free you from your nagging, daily pain, leading to better overall health.


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American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons: «Low Back Pain Exercise Guide.»

American Council on Exercise: «Bird-dog,» «Glute Bridge.»

American Pain Foundation: «Back Truths: Debunking Common Myths About Back Pain.»

Kell, R. Journal of Strength {amp}amp; Conditioning Research, March 2009.

La Touche, R. Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies, October 2008.

Long, A. Spine, December 1, 2004.

National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke: «Low Back Pain Fact Sheet.»

NHS: «Back Pain — Prevention.»

NISMAT.org: «Low Back Program Exercises.»

The President’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports: «Questionable Exercises.»

If you suffer from back pain, there is good news from a recent study that looked at exercise and its beneficial effects when it comes to pain. 

The study was small but the results are promising. There were 27 back pain sufferers in the study, which looked at the effects of aerobic training and resistance training.

Researchers reported that those who participated in the resistance training group who lifted weights had a 60% improvement in pain and function. Those assigned to aerobic exercise group who participated in regular activities such as walking or jogging, only improved by 12%.

The resistance training group used a full bodyweight training program, three days a week for 15 weeks. Participants increased the weight lifted over three weeks, reduced the weight every fourth week (for recovery) and repeated this for 15 weeks.

As this is a small study, talk to your doctor before trying this yourself.

The program in the study included the following exercises of three groups of nine people each.

Lower back pain is a pesky problem that unfortunately, many of us have experienced at one point or another to some degree.

«Lower back pain is the most common musculoskeletal ailment in the U.S., and can often be mitigated by strengthening the core musculature,» Blake Dircksen, D.P.T., C.S.C.S., a physical therapist at Bespoke Treatments New York, tells SELF. «The ‘core’ is a cylinder of abdominal and back muscles that wraps around the body like a corset,» Dircksen explains. (The glutes are also considered a part of the core, since they connect to the pelvis and ultimately the back and abdominal muscles.) As with any muscles, by strengthening them, you will increase the amount of weight your lower back can comfortably move, which means it will be better equipped to handle the same stress from your workouts and everyday life without getting as achey.

«Without a strong core, your body will rely more on your passive structures, such as your ligaments and bones, which places more stress on discs and therefore increases your likelihood of injury,» adds Melanie Strassberg, P.T., D.P.T., clinical director of Professional Physical Therapy in New Rochelle, New York.

In addition to strengthening the core muscles, it’s also important to address any mobility problems, says Jacque Crockford, M.S., C.S.C.S., exercise physiology content manager at American Council on Exercise, which can sometimes be what’s causing pain. If specific movements like twisting or bending or extending your spine feel uncomfortable, there may be mobility (flexibility) issues at play. Doing some gentle stretching (like these yoga poses) might help. (If it gets worse with those stretches, stop and see a doctor.)

When you’re working to strengthen the core, you’ll want to focus on exercises that don’t exacerbate lower back issues. «It’s important to find out which movements (flexion, extension, rotation) cause pain or discomfort and to avoid those movements, while continuing to work into ranges that are not provoking,» Dircksen says. Crockford suggests focusing on exercises that keep the core stable and avoiding twisting movements to avoid exacerbating pain.

As with any sort of pain, it’s crucial to figure out the source so you can properly treat it. Sharp or stabbing pain that extends beyond your low back or is accompanied by symptoms like abdominal pain, nausea, and vomiting, could be signs of various other conditions and definitely warrant a trip to the doctor. If you have a history of lower back injuries or disc problems, always see your doctor before trying any new exercise.

But if your lower back pain is more of a general achiness or discomfort, the experts here with suggest adding some core exercises into your routine to strengthen the entire area and better support your back.

Demoing the moves is Zach Job, a New-York based artist and producer and up-and-coming drag queen whose dream of joining a circus has prompted him to train in everything from gymnastics to boxing to acro-yoga. He also likes working out with kettlebells, rock climbing, biking, and playing dodgeball.

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