Experiencing muscle strains in the lower back of our body can really impact your quality of life. Here’s a list of what you should and should not do to ease your back pain.
Medically Reviewed by Dr. K on 17 Dec 2021.
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- Lower Back Pain: How Exercise Helps
- Avoid: Toe Touches
- Try: Partial Crunches
- Avoid: Sit-ups
- Try: Hamstring Stretches
- Avoid: Leg Lifts
- Try: Wall Sits
- Try: Press-up Back Extensions
- Try: Bird Dog
- Try: Knee to Chest
- Try: Pelvic Tilts
- Try: Bridging
- Lifting Weights May Help
- Try: Aerobic Exercise
- Try: Some Pilates Moves
Suitable Exercise Moves For Better Low Back Pain
Your back muscle can feel strained at times due to many reasons such as improper lifting technique, twisting while lifting, sudden movement or fall, improper posture or a sedentary lifestyle. A better understanding of anatomy can help you identify the causes of your hip and lower back pain.
Lower Back Pain: How Exercise Helps
Although you may feel like resting, movement is beneficial to your back. Lower back pain exercises may help you strengthen your back, stomach, and leg muscles. They provide back pain relief by supporting your spine. Before engaging in any back-pain-relieving activity, consult your doctor. Some actions may not be advised or perhaps dangerous depending on the reason and severity of your discomfort.
Avoid: Toe Touches
Exercise is helpful for low back pain, but not all activities are. As muscles grow stronger, any minor pain felt at the start of these workouts should go away. Patients should stop exercising and consult a doctor if discomfort is more than moderate and lasts more than 15 minutes during activity.
Some movements may make the pain worse. Standing toe touches, for example, put more strain on your spine’s discs and ligaments. They may also overstretch the hamstrings and lower back muscles.
Try: Partial Crunches
When you have acute low back pain, certain activities may exacerbate your discomfort and should be avoided. Partial crunches may assist in strengthening the muscles in your back and stomach. Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor. Put your hands behind your neck or cross your arms over your chest. Raise your shoulders off the floor and tighten your abdominal muscles.
As you lift your shoulders, exhale. Don’t use your arms to lift your neck off the floor or to lead with your elbows. Hold for a second before lowering yourself back down—rep 8–12 times more. Excessive tension on your low back may be avoided with proper form. At all times, your feet, tailbone, and lower back should be in contact with the mat.
Although you may assume that performing sit-ups will develop your core or abdominal muscles, most individuals instead utilise their hip muscles. Sit-ups may also place a lot of strain on your spine’s discs.
Try: Hamstring Stretches
Bend one knee while lying on your back. A towel should be looped beneath the ball of your foot. Pull the towel back gently as you straighten your knee. A slight stretch should be felt along the back of your leg. For at least 15 to 30 seconds, hold the position. For each leg, repeat 2–4 times.
Avoid: Leg Lifts
Leg lifts are occasionally recommended as a way to “strengthen your core" or abdominal muscles. Raising both legs together while laying on your back is highly demanding on your core. Exercising to rebuild lower back strength may be very beneficial in reducing discomfort, but lifting both legs together while lying on your back is quite demanding on your core.
This exercise may aggravate back discomfort if you are weak. Try lying on your back with one leg straight and the other bent at the knee instead, maintaining a flat lower back on the floor. Slowly raise the straight leg approximately 6 inches and hold for a few seconds. Slowly lower the leg. Rep 10 times on each leg, then switch legs.
Try: Wall Sits
Lean back until your back is flat on the wall, standing 10 to 12 inches from the wall. Slowly lower yourself until your knees are slightly bent and your lower back is pressed against the wall. Hold for a count of ten before sliding back up the wall with caution—rep 8–12 times more.
Try: Press-up Back Extensions
Place your hands behind your shoulders and lie on your stomach. Your shoulders will begin to rise off the floor as you push with your hands. Put your elbows on the floor directly under your shoulders if it’s comfortable for you, and hold this position for several seconds.
Try: Bird Dog
Begin by tightening your abdominal muscles on your hands and knees. Raise one leg behind you and stretch it. Maintain a level hip position. Switch to the other leg after 5 seconds of holding. Repeat 8 to 12 times for each leg, and hold each lift for more extended periods.
For each repetition, try raising and extending your opposite arm. This exercise is a beautiful method to learn how to keep your low back stable while moving your arms and legs. Don’t allow your lower back muscles to droop throughout this exercise. Only lift the limbs to a height that will enable you to retain a typical back posture.
Try: Knee to Chest
On your back, bend your knees and place your feet flat on the floor. Bring one knee to your chest while maintaining a flat foot on the floor. Hold for 15 to 30 seconds with your lower back pushed to the floor. Then, with the opposite leg, drop your knee and repeat. Repeat for each leg 2–4 times.
Try: Pelvic Tilts
Lie down on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor. Tighten your stomach by tightening it as though you’re about to take a punch. Your back will push into the floor, and your hips and pelvis will bounce back. Hold for 10 seconds while breathing evenly in and out—rep 8–12 times more.
Lie down on your back with your knees bent and just your heels on the ground. Squeeze your buttocks and raise your hips off the floor until your shoulders, hips, and knees are in a straight line. Hold for approximately 6 seconds before lowering hips to the floor and resting for 10 seconds—rep 8–12 times more. As your hips rise, avoid arching your lower back. Tighten your abdominal muscles before and throughout the lift to prevent overarching.
Try: Aerobic Exercise
Aerobic exercise helps you lose weight by strengthening your lungs, heart, and blood vessels. Back discomfort may be relieved by walking, swimming, or riding. Begin with short workouts and gradually increase your time. If your back hurts, consider swimming, where the water supports your body. Strokes that twist your body should be avoided.
Try: Some Pilates Moves
Stretching, strengthening, and core abdominal movements are all part of Pilates. It may assist some individuals with back discomfort if a skilled instructor teaches them. Make sure your instructor knows your back discomfort since you may need to forgo specific exercises.
- 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 & 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."