Back Exercises to Reduce Low-Back Pain
If you injure your lower back, it's important to keep moving.
While back pain might make you want to hide in bed until everything feels better, the best thing to do is usually to move around and perform exercises that don't hurt. Lower back pain is one of the leading causes of disability in the United States.
If you're one of the many people in pain, there are certain exercises that help. No matter what you do, it's important to keep moving if you're having problems with your lower back, asserts a 2005 review published in the Annals of Internal Medicine. The article reviewed 43 studies that looked different ways to reduce low back pain, and they found that exercise consistently worked.
If you're experiencing pain in your lower back, the first thing that you should do is consult a doctor because there are so many possible causes of pain. The lower back is a highly concentrated area of nerves, muscles, tendons, ligaments, and bone. If you doctor deems that exercise is OK, you'll have to figure out which ones are the best for you.
Try these exercises, they just might help!
Types of Exercises
The back can move in a few ways. It can flex, which means that you are bending forwards with your upper body. It can extend, which means that you are leaning back with your upper body. It can also bend side-to-side, and rotate. Depending on your injury, one or more of these different motions might hurt. It's important to avoid exercises that involve the type of motion that causes pain.
The direction that you can move in without pain is known as your directional preference, according to a 2004 research study published in the journal "Spine." In this study, the researchers tested subjects to see which directions they could move in without pain. Then they had the subjects perform exercises using the same motion and found that their pain decreased.
The following exercises are safe to try because they use only your body weight. Perform each exercise to see which ones hurt and which don't. If you find that an exercise is painful, stop it immediately and focus on the exercises that don't hurt. This allows you to keep moving your back without further injuring it.
1. Back Extension
A 2011 study published in the Journal of Back and Musculoskeletal Rehabilitation shows that lower back extensions can help reduce back pain. Do 15 to 20 repetitions.
HOW TO DO IT: Lie on your stomach on a comfortable surface, such as a yoga mat. Leaving your legs and hips on the ground, pull your shoulders back and head up until your chest is off of the mat. Lower your upper body back down to the mat.
2. Cat Stretch
This exercise allows you to flex your back, the opposite of extension. Perform 10-15 repetitions.
HOW TO DO IT: Get on your hands and knees on the ground, preferably on a soft surface, such as a yoga mat. Exhale out of your mouth and round your back, like a frightened cat. Inhale and bring your spine back to neutral.
3. Kneeling Rotation
This exercise allows you to safely practice rotating your spine. Perform five repetitions on each side.
HOW TO DO IT: Kneel down on a soft surface. Sit your butt back to your heels. If this is uncomfortable, place a foam roller or towel under your butt. Lean forward and put your left hand down on the mat with your elbow straight.
Reach your right arm across your body and grab your left armpit with your right hand. Turn your torso to the right as far as you can. As you rotate to the right, turn your head to the right.Turn your shoulders back until they are square with the ground.
- Systematic Review: Strategies for Using Exercise Therapy To Improve Outcomes in Chronic Low Back Pain
- Does it Matter Which Exercise?: A Randomized Control Trial of Exercise for Low Back Pain
- The effect of lumbar extension training with and without pelvic stabilization on lumbar strength and low back pain1
Henry is a freelance writer and personal trainer living in New York City. You can find out more about him by visiting his website: henryhalse.com.