Lower back pain is a common problem which can affect people of all ages and can be caused by anything from poor posture while sitting at a desk, to carrying a heavy bag of college books incorrectly. It can also affect sportsmen and manual laborers and is a common occupational health problem. The good news is that there are several useful exercises for lower back pain which can help you to manage the condition.
Effective Exercises for Lower Back Pain
Treating lower back pain is usually a matter of rest and pain relief. If you have simply tweaked a muscle in your back then your pain should go away within a couple of days, or a few weeks if you are particularly unlucky.1 If you suffer from recurring back pain or your pain does not get better quickly then you may want to try some exercises for lower back pain that will help reduce the tension and promote faster recovery.
Most exercises for lower back pain are stretches of some form, although strengthening your core is also useful. Try the following stretches to ease your pain:2
Naturally, one of the best exercises for lower back pain is a simple backstretch. Lie down on your back with your hands held behind your head. Bend your legs and keep your knees together. While trying to stay flat on your back, roll your knees from side to side, keeping your feet on the floor. Do this slowly, and hold the stretch for ten seconds on each side. Repeat the rolling motion three times.
Knee to Chest:
This is a very gentle exercise which may be useful if you are in a lot of pain and have limited mobility. Start by lying on your back with your knees bent. Bring one knee up to your chest, and hold it there for five seconds, then do the same thing with the other leg. Repeat this five times. If you can’t get your knee all the way up to your chest, then simply pull it as far as you can without causing pain.
Stand upright, then step one leg forward, bending it at the knee. Kneel on the other knee, and keep facing forwards, so that you are dropping into a deep lunge. Hold for five seconds, and lift the back knee up again. Repeat three times on each side.
Activating the gluteus maximus can help to strengthen the muscle and provide better stability, preventing back pain. Simply lie down flat on your back with your feet placed flat on the floor, roughly hip-width apart. Put your hands by your sides, and push your feet into the floor so that your buttocks come off the ground. Keep your shoulders on the floor and raise your hips as high ask you can. Hold the top of the bridge for ten seconds, then release. Repeat this 10 times for one ‘set’ of exercises, then repeat until you have done three sets, with a little rest in between each set.
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There are other stretches that can help with back pain, depending on the type of pain that you are experiencing. With these stretches, it is best to sink into them slowly, hold them for a few seconds, and carefully release. While dynamic stretching is usually advised for people who are trying to build flexibility or to cope with things like arthritis, with back pain it is a good idea to move more slowly and gently.3
Ease into the Exercises
If you are struggling to get started with exercises for lower back pain because you are already feeling stiff and in pain, or you are having muscle spasms, then you might want to try essential oils to relax your muscles and bring down the inflammation. Studies show that lavender can be helpful for treating acute back pain, and bergamot has also been found to help with pain relief.4,5 The Sleepy blend has lavender in it.
You may find that having a warm bath will help to relax your muscles and soothe some of the aches and pains. Using an aromatherapy treatment such as our Sleepy blend or the Relieve blend could help to relieve some of the tension as well. If the pain is very severe, then over the counter pain relievers and anti-inflammatories could take the edge off.
If you decide to try exercises for lower back pain, then you should do them a few times a day, and do them every day while the pain is an issue. Most cases of acute back pain will show improvement within two weeks and should resolve themselves within four weeks. If your pain is very severe or does not show improvement within a reasonable time frame then you should seek advice from a doctor.
It is also important that you seek professional medical advice if you are experiencing other issues on top of your back pain, such as numbness and tingling anywhere on your body, difficulty using the toilet, or altered sensation when attending to personal hygiene after using the toilet. Do not ignore any ‘strange’ symptoms, because they could be a symptom of a more serious underlying problem.
If you go to your doctor about lower back pain, they will ask you about the symptoms, and monitor the pain at first. If they believe that it is a sign of something more serious, then they will send you for imaging tests which can identify the cause of the pain. There are several different types of imaging test available, and these tests will help your doctor to determine the best course of treatment for you, depending on whether there is damage to a disc, a slipped disc, nerve damage, or something else causing your back pain.6
In the long term, taking steps to prevent back pain is the best idea. Having a strong core, maintaining good posture, and taking precautions when lifting or carrying heavy objects will help to prevent back pain from occurring in the first place.
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