Lower back pain plagues millions of people now that sitting in a chair for eight hours a day is commonplace. Not to mention the time spent sitting in cars, sitting in front of a TV, and sitting down to eat!
Looking for relief? Don’t worry – I’ve found five exercises to help you get rid of lower back pain… and five exercises you should avoid.
5 Exercises to Relieve Lower Back Pain
These exercises strengthen your back without causing unnecessary damage.
1. Partial Crunches
Partial crunches are great to strengthen your back and stomach muscles without too much added tension. Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet on the floor. Cross your arms over your chest or put your hands behind your head, then lift your body up so your shoulders are off the ground. Be sure to tighten your stomach muscles! Hold this position for 3-4 seconds, then lower. Don’t forget to breathe.
2. Hamstring Stretches
Don’t you love hamstring stretches? They also relieve lower back pain. Just lie on the floor and raise one leg. Wrap a towel or shirt around the ball of your foot, and pull to straighten it out. Hold this position for 15 to 30 seconds. Do this 3-4 times each side.
3. Wall Sits
Wall sits work wonders because they don’t put stress in bad places. First, stand 10 to 12 inches from the wall, then slowly lean back and slide down the wall until you’re in a sitting position. Hold for 10 seconds, then slowly get back up and repeat this process 8 to 12 times.
4. Press-up Back Extensions
5. Bird Dog
I know, I had no idea what this was either until I did some research. To do this one, start on your hands and knees, and tighten your stomach muscles. Lift and extend one leg behind you while keeping your hips level. Hold for 5 seconds then switch to the other leg. Repeat 8 to 12 times for each leg, and try to lengthen the time you hold each lift. Try lifting and extending your opposite arm for each repetition. The key is to not let your lower back sag while in this position!
5 Exercises to Avoid (These Make Back Problems Worse)
These common exercises can actually make lower back problems worse!
1. Toe Touches
Toe touches can put stress on the disks and ligaments in your spine. They can also overstretch lower back muscles and hamstrings.
You would think sit-ups are great, right? As it turns out, most people tend to use muscles in the hips, which adds too much stress. Sit-ups may also put a lot of pressure on the discs in your spine, which isn’t good, either.
3. Leg Lifts
Leg lifts are very demanding on your core. If you don’t have a strong core already, this exercise can make your back pain worse. Instead, try lying on your back with one leg straight and the other leg bent with your foot flat on the floor. Keep your lower back flat on the floor! Slowly lift the straight leg up about 6 inches and hold for a few seconds. Lower it back down slowly. Repeat 10 times, then switch legs.
Squats are really bad for your back – when done incorrectly. I say you should avoid them because they require a certain level of form mastery which makes them much more dangerous in comparison to the other 5 exercises above.
Jogging is bad for your lower back and horrible for your knees. So many people swear by it, but it can really do more damage than good. I would just avoid it.
Thanks for reading. I wish you luck and hope these exercises and tips help relieve lower back pain!
Featured photo credit: Andrea Ferretti via rodalesorganiclife.com