When your back aches, you may just want to stay in bed. But relief is possible with a gentle workout. Try these lower back exercises.
Lower back pain affects about 80 percent of American adults. According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, lower back pain is the leading cause of missed work days. Pain in your lower back can be attributed to age-related changes of the spine, the result of an accident, or by lifting something heavy.
Whether your lower back pain is short term or chronic, you can get relief with lower back exercises. These back pain exercises are designed to halt your aches and give you more flexibility.
These lower back exercises take the stress off of your lower back and hips. Just make sure that you stop exercising and talk to your doctor if you feel any pain. Exercise should be pain free.
Easy-to-do lower back exercises
1. Go for a swim. Swimming is one of the best exercises for lower back pain because the buoyancy of the water takes stress off of your joints. Swimming and water aerobics can also strengthen your back and core muscles due to the resistance of the water. A plus is that most indoor pools are heated or kept at a warm temperature.
2. Take a walk. Start with a stroll and gradually pick up your pace. A brisk walk elevates your heart rate without putting any pressure on your lower back.
3. Ride a stationary bike. What’s good about a stationary bike is that it’s usually designed so you are sitting upright as opposed to a reclining or recumbent bicycle. Also, if you’re cycling outdoors, the terrain is uneven; if you hit a pothole or a bump in the road, it could negatively impact your back.
4. Run on a treadmill. For the same reasons as using a stationary bike, a treadmill offers you an even surface that is kinder to your back than running outdoors.
5. Lift weights. It sounds counterintuitive, but weight lifting done properly can strengthen back muscles. Before you pick up a barbell or other weight, talk to your doctor about whether it’s a smart idea. If you get the okay, start with a couple of pounds and gradually build up.
6. Take a Pilates class. Pilates consists of low-impact flexibility, muscular strength, and endurance movements. It combines stretching, strengthening, and abdominal exercises. If you are new to Pilates, consider taking an introductory class and let your teacher know about your back pain because some of the exercises may be hard on your back.
7. Do yoga stretches. If your lower back pain is severe, avoid yoga. If you have occasional soreness, some yoga stretches can help soothe aching back muscles. As with all new exercise programs, tell the instructor about your back pain. She should know which ones will help and which ones will hinder.
Always talk to your doctor
Before you start any exercise program, talk to your doctor. You should also let all fitness instructors know that you have a bad back. This way you won’t further harm it. And when you are exercising, avoid doing bending exercises like touching your toes, sit-ups, and leg lifts. These exercises put a lot of stress on your lower back.
By being informed and sharing information about your lower back pain with fitness instructors and your doctor, you’ll be able to avoid pain and will improve your situation.
March 27, 2020
Janet O’Dell, RN