Low back pain is one of the top reasons people go to the doctor. It’s also usually in the top five complaints that send people to the ER. The fact is there’s a better solution… especially during a time when people are trying to avoid unnecessary emergency room visits. A quick chat with your local AlignLife chiropractor (even if it’s on the phone) can help put you on the right track. These 5 core-strengthening exercises for low back pain will work to strengthen, stretch and help start alleviating the pain in your back.
You can help alleviate low back pain at home
As millions adjust to working from home (on a dining room table, at a small corner in the bedroom, or lounging on the couch with a laptop on your lap… yikes!), low back pain is quickly becoming a hot topic. But did you know if you spent just 15 minutes a day strengthening your core, you can usually lower or even prevent most cases of low back pain? In fact, research shows the increased blood flow to the lower back during exercise helps reduce stiffness and may actually speed up the healing process.
Yep. We heard that collective cheer from living rooms all across the United States. That’s why the doctors at AlignLife Chiropractic have rallied together with our favorite core-strengthening exercises for low back pain that you can do from the comfort of your own home. No equipment is needed!
As always, before starting any new exercise it is best to check with your doctor. Depending on the cause and intensity of your pain, some exercises may not be recommended and can be harmful. Also, please listen to your body during any activity. That means do not stretch or do an exercise that brings you to the point of pain. If it hurts, stop immediately and call your doctor to talk about next steps. Now that our safety talk is out of the way, let’s get to our top five exercises for the low back and how to do each!
#1: The Cat Stretch Exercise For Low Back Pain
Looking just like its name, the cat stretch is a great exercise to do if your back is stiff. It’s also a great exercise to help prevent low back pain as it works on increasing flexibility and core muscles. You can do this during warm-ups and cool-downs. It’s also an effective exercise to do if you’re working to overcome an injury. We recommend performing this in the mirror for at least the first time so you can make sure the stretch is being performed correctly and prevent injury.
Here’s how to do a proper cat stretch exercise for low back pain:
- Get on your hands and knees with your knees hip-width apart.
- Make sure your back is flat and take a deep breath.
- As you exhale, use your core muscles to pull your belly button up toward your spine. This should curve your back toward the ceiling.
- Hold the pose for 10- 20 seconds.
- Relax back into the original position.
- Repeat 3-5 times, twice a day.
#2: Superman Exercise For Low Back Pain
Supermans are again aptly named as they take on a “superman” pose when you are in position. Many first responders and military personnel (true super men and women) use this exercise to help avoid injury on the job. Top benefits of this exercise include: strengthening your lower and upper back, working out your glutes and hamstrings, and increasing your core strength.
To perform a superman exercise for low back pain:
- Lie facedown on the ground with your arms stretch out in front of your body.
- To avoid neck injury, keep your head straight and look at the floor.
- Raise your hands and feet about 6 inches into the air.
- Pull your belly button in and off the floor as you hold the position.
- Hold the pose for 2 to 5 seconds.
- Return to the starting position.
- Repeat 10 times.
#3: Lateral Leg Lift Exercise For Low Back Pain
Working out the gluteus medius, lateral leg lifts are also great for helping alleviate or prevent low back pain. During this exercise, your hip abductor muscles help raise your leg to the side and away from your body. When these muscles are weak, it can affect your body’s balance and mobility – which can spiral into low back pain as your body fights for stability.
To do a proper lateral leg lift exercise for low back pain:
- Lie on one side with your legs together.
- Keep your lower leg slightly bent on the ground.
- Engage your core by drawing your belly button in toward your spine.
- Raise your top leg (about 18 inches off the ground) without moving the rest of your body. Focus on keeping your leg straight and extended
- Hold the position at the top for 2 seconds, then lower your leg back down.
- Repeat 10 times.
- Turn to the other side, and repeat the exercise on the other leg.
- Perform 3 sets on each side.
#4: Bridge Exercise For Low Back Pain
No, we’re not talking about the bridges you see kids doing in gymnastics classes. These bridge exercises can be done by most every skill level and are a great exercise for strengthening your low back and hip muscles. In fact, if you’re sitting for prolonged periods every day, doing bridges will help to“wake up” the glutes and reset the pelvis. So give it a go and see how you do.
To do a bridge exercise for low back pain:
- Lie on the ground with your knees bent.
- Place your feet flat on the floor (hip-width apart) and put your arms by your sides.
- Press your feet into the floor, then squeeze and raise your buttocks off the ground until your body forms a straight line, keeping your shoulders on the floor.
- Lower your buttocks back to the ground.
- Do 3 sets of 15 reps each with a minute rest between each set.
#5: Partial Crunch Exercise For Low Back Pain
If your low back is giving you troubles, some exercises like sits ups just aren’t recommended because they can put too much pressure on the discs in your spine. Partial crunches, however, are a great alternative and work on strengthening both your back and stomach muscles.
To do a partial crunch exercise for low back pain:
- Lie flat on your back on the floor.
- Keep your knees bent and your feet hip-width apart.
- Cross hands over chest or behind your neck
- Breathe deeply and tighten your stomach muscles.
- Breathe out and lift your head and shoulder about 2 inches off the ground
- Remember not to pull on your neck and keep your neck in line with your spine.
- Hold the pose for 5 seconds, then slowly lower back down to your starting position.
- Repeat 10 times.
- Perform 2 – 3 sets.
Want more ways to help low back pain?
Schedule an in-office visit or virtual assessment with a local AlignLife chiropractor to learn how you can tweak your work set up and ease lower back pain, plus get more great personalized exercises and resources to help reach your health goals. We also recommend you try out Mobility from Aceva because it helps your body reduce pain and inflammation naturally.
Mobility features a powerful combination of Turmeric and other anti-inflammatory herbal extracts. It helps improve overall joint function throughout your body by naturally reducing inflammation and pain. Mobility is also formulated with BioPerine®, which enhances ingredient bioavailability and makes it fast-acting with longer-lasting results. Mobility also doesn’t cause the numerous side effects other over-the-counter pain remedies can have.
Resources A Systematic Review of the Effects of Exercise and Physical Activity on Non-Specific Chronic Low Back Pain. Rebecca Gordon and Saul Bloxham. Healthcare. 2016