EXERCISES to relieve lower back pain should be undertaken regularly, and not just by those who are super fit. Lower back pain is common, even among those who exercise and keep fit. It also affects people who exercise less, or who have a relatively sedentary working and home life.
That’s because of the complexity of the interlocking relationships between muscles and tendons throughout the body. Any wrong or exaggerated movement or jolt during exercise, a sporting fixture, or even in day-to-day life, can strain the lower back muscles and leave you in pain.
Physiotherapists have a range of treatments to assist your recovery from pain and discomfort. But there are also exercises you can undertake at home during recovery, and going forward, which will enhance the flexibility and strength of your muscles, to reduce the chances of similar injury occurring in future.
The following 5 exercises to relieve lower back pain could be slotted into a morning routine, to prepare your body for the working day. However, please bear in mind that these are not a substitute for treatment of injury. If you are suffering from lower back pain already and these exercises do not alleviate it within five days, contact a physiotherapist or doctor.
1. Knee Rolls
This simple exercise is good for the flexibility and strength of the spine. Lie on your back on a mat on the floor, and raise both knees up until the feet are firmly on the floor. Firstly, roll both knees to the right, until the right knee touches the floor. Hold for 5 seconds, and return to centre. Then roll both knees to the left, until the left knee touches the floor, holding for 5 seconds before returning to centre. This should be done 10 times for each side, but do NOT attempt to stretch the back muscles beyond comfort. It’s helpful to place a cushion between the knees.
2. Forward Folds
Forward Folds are ideal for exercising the lower back muscles and thighs, and increasing the flexibility of the hips. The Forward Fold is also simple to do in the home, making it another of the simplest and most effective exercises to relieve lower back pain.
In a standing position, lock the knees and push the buttocks outwards while keeping body weight on the heels. Stretch your arms outwards, raising them above your head. As you lower your arms back to the floor, unlock the knees and bend them slightly. Finally, your lower abdomen should touch your thighs, with the knees slightly bent. Hold the position for 20-30 seconds and slowly return to the initial standing position. If you suffer from hamstring pain, use a low chair for support, instead of bending over all the way to the floor.
3. Bottom-to-Heels Stretches
This is great for strengthening the muscles in the upper legs as well as the lower, and should definitely be a part of your warm-up or morning exercise routine. However, be sure to use a sports mat to avoid bruising of the knees.
Get on to the floor on your hands and knees, keeping your hands slightly behind your shoulder line, and your knees behind your hips. Next, you slowly ‘fold’ the lower body until your buttocks touch the heels. Keep your hands on the floor, extending them as necessary as the body moves towards the back. Hold this position for 20-30 seconds and repeat up to 10 times.
4. Back Extensions
Back Extensions are another of the great exercises to relieve lower back pain. They’re ideal for anyone’s morning routine, even those who do not suffer from lower back pain, as they strengthen all of the muscle groups in the back.
Lie on the stomach, supporting the upper body with the elbows and forearms. Keeping the neck straight, push down on your forearms to arch the upper body until you feel tension in the muscles of the abdomen. Hold this pose for 20 to 30 seconds, and repeat 5 times.
5. Knee-to-Chest Stretches
These stretches and very good improving the strength and flexibility of the glutes. Placing a pillow under the buttocks for comfort, like on your back on a hard floor. Raise one knee, folding it until the upper leg is flat against the chest. Use both of your hands to hold the leg in position for 30 seconds. Then relax, and do the same for the other leg. Repeat, for a total of 10 times per leg.