What is low back pain and how can you Strengthen your back to prevent it and the discomfort of its symptoms? Follow these day-to-day exercises.
Lower back pain is a typical cause for visits to the doctor. Actually called 'low back pain', it is the most typical cause of job-related disability. This article will help you learn what lower back pain is, what triggers it and what you can do to help enhance your back-- including exercises.
What is lower back pain?
- Low back pain (frequently called “lower back pain”) has a number of symptoms which can-- however don't constantly-- consist of:
- Dull aches or pains in the low back (back spinal column).
- Stinging, burning discomfort.
- Feeling numb or tingling.
- Muscle spasms and tightness.
- Discomfort that becomes worse after extended periods of standing or sitting.
- Problem or discomfort going from standing to sitting.
- These can frequently travel or manifest to the hips and hips too.
What can you do to strengthen your back?
By strengthening your back, you can reduce the symptoms and suffering of lower back pain. There are various methods to do it:
- Strengthen your core muscles (which include your pelvic flooring muscles, transversus abdominis and external and internal obliques).
- Stay active! Aerobic workout and minimal bed rest for pain in the back are very important.
- Lift weights. This does not necessarily need to be hours of dead weights in the gym, a couple of specific exercises with small weights in the house can assist strengthen your back over time.
- Keep great posture.
- Enhance your flexibility.
- Avoid back braces as these do not help to strengthen your back but can indicate your back starts to rely on it.
Pilates, yoga, meditation and other relaxation strategies can also help to reduce pain and reinforce your core. Yoga helps increase muscle strength in particular muscle groups and does so by keeping the body in positions. Extending with yoga also increases blood flow, promoting nutrient flow round the body, helping to eliminate contaminants and nurture the muscles and soft tissues in the lower back.
12 exercises to enhance your back
- Bottom-to-heel stretch.
Kneel on all fours while trying to keep your back and neck straight but don't lock your elbows. Slowly move your bottom backwards to meet your heels. Hold the stretch for a deep breath and return to the starting position. Repeat 10 times.
- Cat and Dog stretch.
Kneel on all fours and arch your back upwards while dropping your chin to your chest. Then drop your stomach and lift your head up tilting your pelvis as you do so. Repeat 10 times.
- Child’s pose
Sit back on your heels with your arms stretched forwards, head and palms down. Work your hands as far away from you as you can, using your fingers to pull your hands along. Now take a deep breath in and out.
Then do this to each side. Turn to your right and place your hands flat on the ground. Reach again, breathe again. Then turn to your left and do the same.
- Lying knee hug.
Lie on your back. Lift your shoulder blades off the ground. Clasp your hands on your right knee and pull it towards your chest. Now swap legs. Repeat 10 times.
- Bird dog
Kneel on all fours with your hands under your shoulders and your knees under your hips. Stretch your left leg and right arm so they are as horizontal as you can get them, in line with your back. Hold it for three to five seconds. Then swap, stretching your right leg and left arm. If you can, tense your bottom muscles while stretching.
- Plank and feet.
Go into a push-up position with your arms extended — not bent. Lift your left foot upwards a few inches and down again. Do the same for the right foot. Remember to keep your back straight. Repeat 10 times.
- Kneeling psoas stretch.
Go into a lunge position, with your left knee on the ground and place your hands on your right knee. Hold your body upright to stretch the front of your left leg. Then swap. Repeat 10 times.
- Back extension.
Lie face down on the floor (it can help to place a cushion under your hips). Place your arms by your side. Now lift your head and arms a few inches, hold for a few seconds, then slowly release. Repeat 10 times.
- Pelvic tilts.
Sit on the edge of a chair or bench and slowly rock your pelvis forwards, and then backwards. Do this for 30 seconds.
- Piriformis stretch.
Sit in a chair and place your right ankle on your left leg. Press down gently on your right knee while holding your ankle with the other hand to stop it sliding. Now sit up tall, then lean forwards. Hold for 30 seconds and slowly sit back. Now repeat for the other leg.
- The bridge.
Lie on your back with your knees raised and your feet flat to the floor. Allow the natural curvature of your back to remain — don’t make your back flat to the floor. Now lift your hips upwards, tilting your pelvis as you go. When your body and legs are in a straight line, hold for ten seconds.
- Lying lateral leg lifts.
Lie on your side (a towel or flat cushion to fill the gap between your tummy and the floor can help). If you can, do this exercise with your back to a wall and place your lower foot flat against the wall. Keep a slight forward tilt of the pelvis and use your hand to stop you from rocking forwards. Breathe in, and, as you breathe out, lift your uppermost leg. Ensure you do not twist your foot to point upwards.
3 Exercises to avoid
While exercise and stretches can be effective at strengthening your back and even alleviating a few of the pain, other workouts can be destructive. Avoid:
- Toe touches.
- Leg lifts.
What can you do to alleviate lower pain in the back now?
Movement is essential for relieving lower back pain while too much rest can exacerbate your symptoms. Follow your usual daily routine if you can and practice stretches and gentle exercises such as yoga and swimming. Massage, heat therapy and reducing your stress levels can also help.
Here are seven ways to relieve lower back pain now:
Lying or sitting still is one of the worst things you can do to alleviate back pain. Recovery relies on movement so it's important to get up and slowly start moving again. Exercise has been found to be one of the most effective ways to relieve back pain quickly. Try low-impact activities such as swimming, walking, yoga and the exercises above.
If you suffer from sciatica as well as lower back pain, certain stretches are not recommended. Learn more in our guide to exercises to avoid sciatica.
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Manual therapy (massage)
Manual therapies such as massage and physiotherapy can help reduce back pain, by using the hands to move, massage and apply careful force to the muscles, bones and joints in and around your spine.
If you do choose to have a massage, it is important that you use a recognised, qualified therapist. While most massages can be enjoyable, specific health benefits can only come from a qualified practitioner who understands your condition.
You or your doctor may recommend physical therapy, where you can learn how to sit, stand, and move in a way that keeps your spine in proper alignment and alleviates strain on your back. They may also be able to guide you on specialized exercises such as those above.
Use hot and cold
Ice works on injuries by reducing swelling, reducing spasms as well as numbing pain – in the short term. Heat works on injuries to help soothe muscles and increase blood flow to specific areas. As such, use an ice pack to help to reduce pain if you have strained your back, and heat - a hot bath or a hot water bottle placed on the affected area - to help relieve stiff and achy muscles. Alternating between these two methods - hot and cold – can also help soothe pain and help reduce discomfort.
Please note, you should never don’t put ice directly on your skin, as it can cause a cold burn. Wrap an ice pack or bag of frozen vegetables in a cloth or towel first.
Relaxation is a powerful part of alleviating pain in the back, so prevent muscle tension which can make things worse. If you have trouble relaxing, take a look at our resource for handling stress, which consists of suggestions and guides to help you discover the inner peace and calm you require.
Find a good sleeping position
Getting to sleep can be tough when you are struggling with pain in the back, so it's important to find a comfy sleeping position. You may find it assists to place a pillow under your knees if you like to sleep on your back. If you choose to sleep on your side, attempt to bring your knees closer to your chest, in a foetal position, or location a pillow between your knees.
Enhance your posture.
The modern lifestyle often involves sitting at a desk for long periods, hunching over your phone and slouching on the sofa, and can trigger or exacerbate lower back pain through poor posture. Practice sitting and standing with your spine in a neutral position, without leaning your head forward or sticking your bottom out. If you work at a desk, speak to your employer about an occupational health assessment to optimize your workspace and help relieve back pain.
See a doctor
While you can often treat back pain with various medications, home remedies and treatment, if symptoms persist you may need to seek medical attention. A doctor will be able to diagnose chronic or severe back pain or refer you to a specialist for physical therapy, medication or other treatments.