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The Best 10 Exercises To Relieve Lower Back Pain

The Best 10 Exercises To Relieve Lower Back Pain

Most people will experience lower back pain at some point in their life, it is very common. In the old days bed rest was prescribed if your back was ‘playing-up’, whereas today it is recommended to keep exercising. Of course the exercises you do have to be appropriate, we are not suggesting to go for a run or lift heavy weights, that would be stupid. However, there are some great exercises you can do which should help alleviate lower back pain. These exercises are extremely gentle, but of course, listen to your body and stop if you experience any pain.

The exercises work by stretching out muscles that are normally tight when you have lower back pain and strengthening muscles which tend to be weak. Of course, there are many reasons for having lower back pain, so it makes sense to get checked out by a physical therapist.

Make sure you warm-up your muscles before you stretch them. You should never bounce during stretching, and all stretches should be slow and gradual. Avoid over-stretching, stretch your muscles until you feel a slight stretch only, and hold each stretch for 20-30 seconds.

1. Lower Tummy Strengthening

It is important to strengthen your lower tummy muscles because these muscles work in partnership with the lower back. This means if the lower tummy muscles are weak the lower back can tighten up, which can lead to lower back pain.

A great exercise for the lower tummy muscles is shown in the image below. It is extremely gentle and also very effective. Lie on your back with knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Breathe in and as you breathe out bring one knee in towards your chest and as you breathe in return the foot to the floor. Repeat this exercise six to eight times on each leg.

    source: www.webmd.com

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    2. Deep Abdominal Strengthening

    A very important muscle to strengthen is the transverse abdominis, which provides a great deal of support for the lower back. In many people this muscle is extremely weak and this can lead to lower back pain. A very gentle and safe way to strengthen this muscle is shown below. To carry out this exercise lie on your back, place a small cushion under your head, and bend your knees. Your feet should be hip distance apart and placed on the floor. Keep your upper body relaxed and your chin gently tucked in. Take a deep breath in, and as you breathe out focus on drawing your belly button in towards your spine. Hold this gentle contraction for 5 to 10 seconds. As you breathe out relax your tummy muscles. This is a slow, gentle tightening so aim to use less than 25% of your maximum strength. Repeat five times.


      Source: www.nhs.uk

      3 Bird Dog

      Mobilising your lower back is important to aid it’s recovery. The bird dog exercise is shown in the image below and is great for mobilising the lower back. To carry out this exercise get onto all fours, make sure your hands are directly under your shoulders, and knees directly under your hips. Your spine is in a neutral position and you need to keep your head in line with your spine. Take a deep breath in and as you breathe out extend one leg and the opposite arm to inline with your spine. You need to keep your spine in a neutral position at all times, so don’t let your lower back sag down. Hold for 5-10 seconds and as you breathe out lower both your leg and arm to the ground. Repeat this exercise eight to twelve times alternating sides.

        Source: www.popsugar.com

        4 Bridge

        Another great exercise for mobilising the lower back is the bridge, as shown in the image below. To carry out this exercise lie on your back with knees bent and your feet placed hip distance apart on the floor. Take a deep breath in and as you breathe out lift your hips off the floor until shoulders hips and knees are in a straight line. As you breathe in lower your hips to the floor. Repeat eight to twelve times.

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          Source: http://listedfit.com

          5 Pelvic Tilts

          The Pelvic Tilt is another great exercise for mobilising your lower back muscles. As shown below, lie on your back and place a small cushion under your head. Bend your knees and keep your feet hip-width apart and placed on the floor. Keep your upper body relaxed and your chin gently tucked-in. Gently flatten your lower back into the floor and contract your stomach muscles. Now tilt your pelvis towards your heels until you feel a gentle arch in your lower back, feeling your back muscles contracting and return to the starting position. Place one hand on your stomach and the other under your lower back to feel the correct muscles working. Repeat eight to twelve times, tilting your pelvis back and forth in a slow rocking motion.


            Source: www.nhs.uk

            6. Lower Back Stretch

            Stretching your lower back is going to be really helpful in alleviating your lower back pain. Kneel on all fours, with your knees directly under your hips and hands directly under your shoulders. Ensure your spine is in a neutral position. Keep your head in line with your spine, your shoulders back and avoid locking your elbows. Take a big deep breath in and as you breathe out slowly take your bottom backwards towards your heels. Hold the stretch for 20-30 seconds. As you breathe in bring your body up onto all fours again. Repeat six to eight times.

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              Source: www.nhs.uk

              7. Leg Stretch

              It is very common for your hamstring muscles, which are found on the back of your legs, to be very tight when you experience lower back pain. For this reason it is recommended to stretch them out. You can see a great stretch for the hamstrings below. To carry out this exercise, lie on your back with both feet on the floor and knees raised up. Loop a towel under the ball of one foot. Straighten your knee and slowly pull back on the towel. You should feel a gentle stretch down the back of your leg, try not to overdo it. Hold for 20 to 30 seconds. Repeat two times for each leg.

                Source: www.webmd.com

                8. Butt Stretch

                Another muscle which can be tight when you have lower back pain is the piriformis, a muscle in your butt. The stretch below is really effective in stretching this muscle, and very easy to do. To carry out the exercise, lie on your back and cross the right ankle over the left knee. Grip the thigh of your left leg and take a deep breath in. As you breathe out pull the knee in towards you. Hold the stretch for 20-30 seconds. Repeat two times for each side.

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                  Source: https://drjoyarciaga.wordpress.com/

                  9. Hip Stretch

                  It is also good to stretch out your hip as your hip flexor muscles are very often tight when you have lower back pain. When the hip flexors are tight it can alter your posture leading to what is referred to as ‘donald duck posture’ where your butt sticks out too far. This tightens up your lower back and can lead to lower back pain. To stretch the hip flexors, kneel with one knee on the floor and the other foot in front with the knee bent. Push the hips forward and keep your back upright. Hold the stretch for 20-30 seconds. Repeat two times on each side.

                    Source: www.popsugar.com

                    10 Spine Stretch

                    This final stretch is great at stretching out your spine and it feels good to do, too. Lie on your back and place a small cushion under your head. Keep your knees bent and together. Keep your upper body relaxed and your chin gently tucked in. Take a big deep breath in and as you breathe out roll your knees to one side, followed by your pelvis, keeping both shoulders on the floor. Take a big deep breathe in as you return to the starting position. Repeat six to eight times, alternating sides.


                      Source: www.nhs.uk

                      Featured photo credit: pixabay via pixabay.com

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                      How to Keep Yourself Awake at Work Without Caffeine

                      How to Keep Yourself Awake at Work Without Caffeine

                      Keeping yourself awake at work can be a real challenge when you’re bored, exhausted or sleep-deprived.

                      But before you reach for that can of Red Bull, bottle of Mountain Dew, or pot of coffee, try these healthy remedies to stimulate your 5 different senses and help you stay awake at work:

                      Sight – Visual Stimulation

                      The first thing you do when you wake up is opening your eyes, so your visual stimulation is very important to keeping your energy level high.

                      1. Maximize your exposure to light.

                      Your body’s internal rhythm is regulated by the amount of light you receive. The greater your exposure, the more alert you will feel.

                      Open the shades and let in the sunlight. Step outside or look out the window. Turn on all the artificial lights in your office or around your work space.

                      2. Exercise your eyes (or give them a break).

                      Roll your eyes up and down, side to side and diagonally. Rotate them clockwise and then counterclockwise. Squeeze them shut and then open them wide. Do this several times.

                      Reading and sitting in front of a computer screen for long periods can lead to eye fatigue.

                      Take regular breaks with deliberate blinking and looking out into the distance.

                      3. Take note of your environment.

                      Learn to enjoy people-watching. Observe their activities, speech, body language and interactions with others. Notice the details of building, trees and other objects around you, including their color, shape and size.

                      By doing this, you’re not only relaxing your eye muscles but also calming your mind.

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                      Hearing – Auditory Stimulation

                      What you hear or listen to have direct effect on your brain. This is why we feel so annoyed and sometimes angry when we hear construction noise when we’re working.

                      4. Engage in conversation.

                      Talk to a friend or colleague. Trade funny stories. Discuss your business venture, a creative idea, the latest political scandal, or any other topic that interests you.

                      Practice mindful listening to what you and the other person are saying. Tune into the tone, volume and content of the conversation.

                      Learn how to practice better listening from this guide:

                      Why Listen to Reply Instead of Understand Is the Key to Failure

                      5. Listen to upbeat music.

                      Try hip hop, rock or jazz to keep you alert. Instrumental, non-distracting music works best.

                      Sing, whistle, and hum along if you can. Plug in the earphones if you must.

                      Smell – Olfactory Stimulation

                      If you’re feeling sleepy and suddenly smell the coffee, you’ll probably feel more energetic. This is why smell is an influential stimulation.

                      6. Work your nose.

                      Aroma therapists recommend essential oils of peppermint (to boost energy), rosemary (to build awareness), eucalyptus (to increase oxygen), cedarwood  (to activate your mind), and cinnamon (to improve your reaction time).

                      If you don’t have essential oils on hand, you can use lotions or burning candles that provide the same scents.

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                      Citrus like lemons, limes, grapefruits and oranges are also natural olfactory stimulants. Get a whiff of these citrus scents to stay awake.

                      Taste – Gustatory Stimulation

                      If you want an energetic day at work, you can’t let your tongue feeling plain and flavorless.

                      7. Have a good breakfast.

                      Start off with the most important meal of the day.

                      Think fresh, light and healthy: bran cereals, wholegrain breads, fruits, and yogurt.

                      Nix the heavy stuff like sausages, greasy eggs or pancakes.

                      Need some breakfasts inspirations? Check out these ideas:

                      20 Healthy Breakfast Choices That Will Save You Time

                      8. Drink lots of water.

                      Keep a glass or bottle of H2O near you and sip from it throughout the day. Dehydration can leave you feeling tired, sluggish and sleepy.

                      So make sure you drink enough water throughout the day. Not sure how much to drink? This can help you:

                      How Much Water Should You Drink Each Day (and How Much Is Too Much for You)

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                      Think that you’ve been drinking too little water? Try these friendly reminders:

                      3 Best Apps To Help You Drink Much More Water

                      9. Eat energy-boosting snacks.

                      Nuts and fruits (like bananas, apples and strawberries) are sure bets. Pairings with staying power include baby carrots with a low-fat cream cheese dip; celery sticks with peanut butter; red peppers with hummus; and plain yogurt with granola.

                      Avoid carb-filled, sugary snacks that make you crash and leave you feeling tired.

                      Here you can find some healthy snack ideas:

                      25 Healthy Snack Recipes To Make Your Workday More Productive

                      Touch – Tactile Stimulation

                      Last but not least, your sense of touch will make you physically feel more energetic and less stressful.

                      10. Splash cold water on your face.

                      Do this in the morning, during bathroom breaks and in the afternoon. Being exposed to cold water pushes your body to adjust and regulate its internal temperature, which in turn keeps you alert.

                      This works the same as you take a cold shower to increase mood and alertness. Take a look at this article to learn more about it:

                      5 Surprising Benefits of Cold Showers

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                      11. Use acupressure.

                      Apply pressure to, massage, or tap on the stimulation points of your body. These include the top of your head, the back of your neck, the back of your hand (between the thumb and index finger), just below the knee and your earlobes.

                      Watch this video to learn about the acupressure points you can try:

                      12. Get moving.

                      Move away from your chair and stand, walk, run or climb the stairs. Feel the earth under your feet. Stretch and twist. Do jumping jacks, lunges, push-ups and back bends.

                      And if you need to move more discreetly, wiggle your feet, bounce your knee up and down, scrunch your toes, or cross your legs.

                      You can also try some simple stretches and exercises at your desk:

                      Unlike addictive caffeine fixes, these remedies activate your senses, engage your attention, amp up your energy and prevent morning grogginess and afternoon slumps without the side effects or health risks.

                      Pick a few ways from this list of suggestions and practice them consistently. And when you do this consistently, you’ll soon see the positive results — a more energetic and productive you at work.

                      Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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