There are exercises for lower back pain that won’t cause further injury and discomfort. And they may even provide you with relief. We know how lower back pain can really grind your exercise routine to a halt. But if you’re ready to ease back into exercise, there are some things you can do to help work up to your normal activity level. Whether you’ve had a serious back injury or are suffering from mild or chronic pain, make sure you consult with your doctor before starting an exercise regimen. If your body isn’t ready, you might end up causing more damage. If you are ready, here are some great ideas for how you can get started.
Give Biking a Try
Back pain can happen in your upper or lower back and can be anything from an ache to a sharp pinch and can make it really hard to do your normal fitness routine. If you like to jog or play basketball or lift weights, a back injury is likely to sideline you for a while. However, exercises for lower back pain include something you may not have thought of: cycling.
Biking on a recreational bike or a fitness bike can help ease your back pain and can generally help keep you in shape. Biking is a low-impact cardio activity, which lowers the chances of re-injuring yourself or causing any damage. You’re using smooth motions without a lot of stopping or fast direction changes so it offers a lot of stability for your body, too.
It’s important to keep in mind that using the wrong bike or sitting in the wrong position can actually aggravate back pain. Make sure your bike fits you properly and pay close attention to your posture. If you’re looking for an alternative, give a recumbent bike a try.
Top 10 Exercises for Lower Back Pain
If biking isn’t your thing or if you’re looking for exercises to do at home, here are 10 great stretching and strengthening exercises that can help relieve your lower back pain without the need for surgery or anti-inflammatory drugs.
- Lower Abdominals. Your lower abdominal muscles work with your lower back so your lower back depends on the support of this muscle group. Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor. Breathe in and bring one knee in toward the chest. Breathe out and slowly lower it back to the floor. Then do the same with the opposite leg. Do this 8 to 10 times with each leg.
- Superman. Lay down on the floor on your stomach with your arms stretched over your head and your legs stretched out. Squeeze your abs, back, and buttocks to lift your arms and legs off the floor so you resemble Superman flying through the air. Repeat 10 to 12 times.
- Mid-Back Extension. This is a great one to partner with the Superman but it works your mid-back instead of your lower back. Lie face down with your arms at your sides and your legs extended. Tighten your abs and pull your shoulders back so your head is raised off of the floor. Exhale and use your back and core muscles to lift your chest off the floor, keeping your shoulders back and arms at your sides. Slowly lower yourself back to the starting position. Do 10 reps.
- Bird Dog Crunch. This one focuses on your midsection which will help with lower back pain by providing more support and stability. If you’re putting together a routine, it’s easy to transition from Superman to Mid Back Extension right into Bird Dog Crunch. Kneel down on all fours. Reach up and out with one arm and extend the opposite leg. Then, bring your arm and leg back to center, pull in your abs and round out your back. Do this 10 times. Repeat with the opposite leg.
- Full Body Roll Up. Lie on a mat on your back with your arms stretched above your head, legs extended, toes pointed. As you inhale, lift your arms up, curl your chin forward, then your chest. Use your abs to pull you up as you try to reach for your toes. Try to raise and lower yourself one vertebra at a time, 10 times.
- Bridge. Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet as far apart as your hips. As you exhale, raise your hips off the floor until you form a straight line from your head to your hips to your knees. Breathe in and lower your hips back to the floor. Do this 10 to 12 times.
- Pelvic Tilts. Lie on your back with a small pillow under your head. Bend your knees, keeping your feet flat on the floor about a hip-width apart. Tuck in your chin gently and relax. Tilt your pelvis back and forth, first toward your heels and then back to your starting position. Repeat 10 to 12 times.
- Lower Back Stretch. Sometimes, all it takes is some intense stretching to relieve lower back pain and this one really focuses on the right muscles. Kneel on all fours, keeping your hand right under your shoulders and your knees under your hips. Keep your spine in line and as you exhale, move your buttock toward your heels, keeping your hands in place and stretching out your arms. Hold this position for about 30 seconds. Inhale and return to starting position. Repeat 8 times.
- Spine Stretch. Lie on your back with a small pillow under your head. Stretch your arms out to the sides and bend your knees, keeping your legs together and your feet flat on the floor. As you exhale, roll your knees and then your pelvis to one side, being sure to keep your shoulders on the floor. Breathe in and return to the starting position. Repeat on the other side, doing 8 to 10 reps total.
- Piriformis Stretch. The piriformis is a muscle in your lower back near your buttocks. If this muscle is tight, it can cause quite a bit of discomfort. This easy stretch can relieve it. Lie on your back and cross your ankle onto the opposite knee. Hold onto the thigh of the same leg and pull your knee toward your chest as you exhale. Hold for about 30 seconds. Do 2 reps on each side.