It is one of the most frequent aches and pains, but it can be solved by incorporating some simple exercises into your daily routine.
Lower back pain is one of the most common ailments affecting the population today. In fact, some 80% of all people report lower back pain at some point or another during their lifetime. Lower back pain causes people to miss both school and work, and is an overall unpleasant affliction to deal with. Whether your back pain is acute or chronic (meaning it lasts for more than three months without clearing up on it’s own) you can take matters into your own hands to help relieve and reduce the pain you experience on a daily basis. Simply staying physically active as well as incorporating regular stretching into your routine can both alleviate back pain as well as help to avoid it in the future. Here are our top five lower back back relief exercises to strengthen the back and core.
Stretches for lower back pain relief
1. Cat cow
Benefits: Weak back and/or abdominal muscles are one of the most common causes of lower back pain, since they are not able to properly support the spine. Cat Cow is a terrific exercise that works to strengthen the abdominal muscles, release the muscles of the lower back, and even tone the shoulders and arms as they press into the ground and support the weight of the body. Cat Cow can help elongate and strengthen the lower back, relieving tension and pain.
How to do it: Set up on the ground on all fours, in a quadruped position. Round the belly down into cow position and open the chest. Round the back for the cat portion of the exercise, dropping the head and tailbone toward the ground and engaging your core. Go through this movement pattern for 3-4 sets of 10.
2. Pelvic tilts
Benefits: Good posture and proper spinal alignment is important not only for the health of your back but it also can help you sleep better and breathe more efficiently, alleviate tension in the neck and shoulders, and improve circulation and digestion. Good posture means your spine is neutral, shoulders are relaxed and your chest doesn’t thrust outwards, while the lower ribs stay back and stacked directly over the hips and your tailbone doesn't tuck underneath you. One great exercise for promoting good posture as well as lower back stability and flexibility is the pelvic tilt. Pelvic tilts are a tiny move that works both the abdominals and hamstrings, as well as strengthens the pelvic floor. This exercise helps put your spine in a neutral alignment and supports correct posture.
How to do it: There are many ways to do a pelvic tilt –you can do them while standing, in a lying position on your back or your side, while seated, or on your hands and knees. Any of these positions are effective, since the combination of the hip movements and rocking of the pelvis in motion is consistent. To set up for a supine pelvic tilt: lie on your back with bent knees and your feet flat on the floor. This neutral position emphasizes the natural curve of your spine and will lift the lower back slightly off the floor. Exhale and gently push your hips toward your head. As you do this, you'll feel your lower back pressing into the floor. Repeat this gentle movement for 3 sets of 10-15, or anytime throughout the day you could use a low back release and reset.
3. Glute bridges
Benefits: Strong glutes are important to help you both to reduce pain as well as your risk of potential injury. When your glutes are weak, they aren’t able to properly support your lower back or perform their essential function of hip extension, causing other muscles to have to help out. Over time, these muscles can become tired and stressed, resulting not only in low back pain, but also hip pain and knee pain as well. Having strong glutes can alleviate that pain and prevent further injuries to your lower back and knees. Bridges strengthen the gluteus maximus (among other muscles), which is one of the most important muscles in the body.
How to do it: lie on the ground with bent knees, placing the feet flat on the floor hip-width apart. Press the feet into the floor, keeping the arms by the sides. Raise the hips off the ground until the body forms a straight line from shoulders to knees. Squeeze the glutes at the top position. Lower the hips to the ground and repeat for 3 sets of 10-15.
4. Scapular retractions
Benefits: A strong back is essential as it will aid in correct posture as well as balance. Exercises that increase blood flow to the back can help reduce stiffness and tension in the entire back. Scapular retractions can help reduce lower back pain by building strength through the back and help keep the body in proper alignment.
How to do it: Practice scapular retractions by standing up straight and pulling the shoulders back, opening up the chest and imaging your shoulder blades coming to meet each other. Hold for a second or two before releasing and relaxing. You can incorporate this exercise in your workout routines or do it first thing in the morning as a part of a wake up stretching routine.
5. Engage the core
Benefits: Exercises that strengthen the core or abdominal muscles may help to protect the back as well as alleviate chronic low back pain. Though not an exercise in and of itself, properly engaging your core is important when it comes to both relieving as well as avoiding lower back pain.
How to do it: You will want to engage the core whenever you lift anything –during a workout or otherwise, as well as before you perform certain exercises like squats, lunges, or any movements that involve pressing above your head. Doing so will not only help you avoid injury but it will also help build strength throughout the core, thereby improving your posture as well as preparing and protecting your back for the lift.
If you are suffering from low back pain, give some of these core and back strengthening exercises a shot for some gentle relief. Don’t forget to augment these stretches and exercises with the Heatbag, the natural choice for both hot and cold pain relief.
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