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Low Back Pain Exercise Guide

Exercise is necessary to keep the lower back healthy. It can also alleviate back pain and prevent future episodes. A good exercise program for lower back pain should focus on the back, stomach and leg muscles as they play a part in stabilizing the spine during various movements. Before starting any exercise program for lower back pain, it is necessary to consult a doctor, as some exercises can stress your back muscles and are best avoided.

Exercises for back pain

Some of the exercises that are good for relieving back pain include:

  • Hamstring stretches: Lie down on your back and lift one leg up with the knee bent. Loop a towel under your foot and straighten the bent knee, while pulling on the towel. Hold for 15 to 30 seconds, feeling the stretch in the back of your leg.
  • Partial crunches: While lying on your back, keep your knees bent with your feet on the floor. Exhale as you raise your shoulders off the floor. Hold for a second then repeat the movement about 8-12 times. Use your stomach muscles instead of your hands to pull yourself up.
  • Bottom to heels stretch: Kneel on all fours and lower your buttocks to your heels. Hold the stretch for a deep breath then return to the initial position.
  • Knee rolls: Lie on your back with a small rest under your head and your knees bent. Keeping both your shoulders on the floor and your knees together, roll your hips to the side, lowering both knees down, breathing deeply. Perform the same movement on the other side. Repeat alternatively, 8-10 times.
  • Back extensions: Lie on your stomach while resting on your elbows and forearms on the ground. Push back and lift your shoulders off the ground, arching your back. Hold the stretch for 5-10 seconds before returning to the ground. Repeat this movement 8-10 times.
  • Cardio exercises: Walking, biking and swimming also help alleviate lower back pain.
  • Pilates: This type of exercise involves strengthening, stretching and core abdominal exercises that can help with your back pain.

Mild discomfort may be felt at the start of an exercise, which usually disappears as you continue. If pain intensifies or persists longer than 15 minutes, you should stop and consult your doctor or physical therapist, who will modify or suggest other exercises.

Exercises to avoid during back pain

Exercises involving lifting of both legs off the ground while lying on your back, full sit-ups and standing toe touches, put a lot of strain on your spinal discs and may aggravate lower back pain.