There are two types of people who are plagued with lower back pain: those who have it now, or those who are likely to get it.
That means the exercises for back pain relief come in two forms as well: exercises for people who are currently experiencing lower back pain, and exercises for people who never want to experience it again (aka ‘prevention’).
In the USA, back pain is the leading reason people visit the doctor AND the leading reason people miss work.
It’s serious stuff. If you’re currently suffering from lower back pain, you KNOW it’s serious. No other injury affects every move you make quite like a back injury.
We’ve already talked about the causes of lower back pain. Now, let’s look at exercises you can use to ease the pain and prevent it from coming back.
Exercises to Ease Back Pain
If your back hurts right now, you may not feel like exercising, but there are some gentle stretching movements that will help.
Here are a few of those… but one thing to keep in mind: Always see your physician to rule out serious back problems and to get pertinent advice.
- Partial Crunches: Don’t push it any further than feels comfortable, but lying on the floor with bent knees and feet flat on the floor, use your stomach muscles to pull yourself up a bit. Hold a few seconds, then lower. Keep your feet, tailbone, and lower back ON the floor while you do these.
- Hamstring Stretches: You know how these work: lying on your back with knees bent and feet flat on the floor, you lift one foot and loop a rope, towel, or band around it. You then lift that foot straight in the air, while keeping tension with whatever it’s looped by. Hold at the top for at least 10 seconds. Do both sides. Doesn’t that feel good?
- Cat-Cows: This standard Yoga movement is really good for the back. With your hands and knees on the floor, you push your lower back up (cat), then lower it (cow). Keep doing it to get a natural massage of your lower spine.
- Bird Dogs: From that same cat-cow position, left one leg off the ground and point it straight back. At the same time, lift the opposite arm and point it straight forward. Pull them back in and gently touch elbow to knee (careful, don’t go all the way if you feel pain), then do the opposite side.
- Knee to Chest: Lying on your back with both legs straight out, bring one knee towards your chest. Grasp the knee with your hands and gently pull it in. Hold the stretch for five seconds, then pull a little more… hold and pull again… hold. Don’t go further than is comfortable.
Exercises to Build a Strong Back
What, you don’t have any back pain now? That’s good news. Now’s the time to strengthen your back to prevent the pain from returning. (SIDE NOTE: It’s also important to learn about body mechanics — especially how to lift objects without straining.)
- Dumbell Deadlifts: This is a favorite. As with all weight-training exercises, execution is critical. Don’t load up all the weight you can and jerk your whole body to move it; use weight you can handle and perform the exercise carefully while concentrating on your back muscles. Some people like to put their knee on a bench for this exercise, others just bend over with one hand on the bench. Either way, keep your back parallel to the floor and work one side at a time.
- Barbell Deadlifts: No bench needed here. Keep your back level and your head up.
- Wide grip pull-ups: Pull-ups are excellent for the back. The wider the grip, the better.
- Rows – Machine or Barbell: Watch your form. Rows are a classic back-builder.
- Back Extensions: Use the hyperextension machine for this. You can get an amazing stretch AND build strength
Once again, before you get started, talk to your physician and consult a FIT Academy trainer. We love helping you get and stay in better shape. The less you’re bothered by lower back injuries, the happier and healthier you’ll be!
Questions? Just ask at the FIT Academy front desk.