It is no real surprise that as many as 85 percent of people experience low back pain at some point. It’s one of the most common conditions we deal with, brought on by obesity, poor posture, weak ab muscles, a bulging disc, muscle strain, sedentary lifestyles and more. While these are acute causes, chronic conditions such as spinal stenosis, spondylitis and fibromyalgia also can result on persistent low back pain.
The good news is that low back pain is treatable, with regimes including hot baths, heating pads, stretching, yoga, Pilates, chiropractic, physical therapy, acupuncture, pain medications and more. Inactivity generally makes back pan worse, so it’s no longer recommended that you lie around for days hoping that the pain will go away.
It’s smart to consult your physician before diving into an exercise routine to strengthen your back to ensure that you don’t exacerbate any existing issues. Then, performing specific strengthening and stretching exercises to eliminate low back pain can help you to feel better in a matter of weeks. These effective exercises also can help prevent low back pain over time.
Proper form is critical with these exercises. Use slow, controlled motions, fully engaging your core and breathing throughout. Work with a trainer or physical therapist, or check reputable sources online if you need guidance on how to perform the moves. Aim to do theme two to three times weekly.
- Planks – Planks are a great core strengthener, and can be done with the hands or forearms on the floor. Make sure to keep the head in line with the neck, and don’t let the belly sag. Hold for 15 seconds at the beginning, rest and repeat. Add a longer duration a few seconds at a time.
- Side planks – Balance on your right hand or elbow and drop the right knee. Stack the shoulders, open the chest and flatten the back. Extend the bottom leg to full side plank if possible. Hold for 15-60 seconds, then switch to the other side.
- Hip bridges – Lie on your back with knees bent and palms on the floor. Raise the hips from the tailbone up until your body forms a straight line from your shoulders to your knees, squeezing the glutes. Lift and lower 15 times; rest and repeat one to two more sets.
- Bird dogs – On all fours, with hands under shoulders and knees under hips, extend right leg straight and lift it up in line with your hip. Find your balance and then raise the left arm straight by the ear and parallel to the floor. Hold for five seconds, then lower and switch sides. Do 10-12 reps and repeat one to two more sets.
- Back extensions – Lie face down with your arms extended and legs grounded. Slowly lift and lower your head/neck with your torso, bringing your chest slightly off the mat. To add challenge, lift both straight legs slightly at the same time. Do 15 reps, rest and repeat one to two more sets.
- Knee tuck and extend – Lying face up on your elbows, draw the knees to the chest and then extend them straight on a diagonal from the floor. To make it easier, alternate legs; to make it harder, use your hands versus your elbows. Do a set of 15; rest and repeat.
- Stretches – Be sure to release tight muscles by stretching the hamstrings, upper and low back, abs and obliques, groin, hip flexors and hips. Hold stretches for 10-60 seconds each without bouncing, and repeat once more if possible. For guidance, consult a trainer or look up stretches online.
Use these steps above to recover / heal your low back. Stay Fueled.