5 Simple Exercises to Alleviate Lower Back Pain

Lower back pain affects a lot of people, even those who do exercise and try to stay fit. It is a common misconception that this kind of pain is reserved to sedentary people. The human body is made up of many muscles and tendons, interlocked together. Thus, a wrong move during warm-up and running can affect the muscles of your lower back and cause you to suffer from continuous pain.

Today we will not focus on the chronic cases of lower back pain which require medical supervision, but those which you can treat by yourself through a series of exercises. The purpose of these exercises is to increase the strength and flexibility of your muscles, so that you are less likely to injure them in case of effort or wrong moves.

We have selected five simple and effective exercises which you can do at home, without any kind of supervision from a physical therapist. They should become your morning routine, getting you ready for a day’s work and preparing your body for all kinds of efforts. However, if you notice no improvements in your lower back pain after 5-6 days of doing these exercises, you should contact your doctor for further diagnosis.

1. The Knees Roll

The knees roll is a very simple exercise which aims to improve the strength and mobility of your spine.

How to do it: place a mat on the floor and lie down on your back. Lift up your knees, until both your feet sit firmly on the floor. Without moving your upper body, roll both your knees to the right until your right knee touches the floor. Hold the position for 4-5 seconds, and repeat in the opposite direction. It is recommended to do 8-10 knee rolls for each side.

Helpful tips: place a small pillow or cushion between your knees for more comfort and do not attempt to stretch your back muscles further beyond comfort.


2. Forward Fold


The forward fold will exercise both your lower back and thigh muscles and help you gain more flexibility and mobility in your hips.

How to do it: standing up, push your buttocks outwards while placing your body weight on the heels and stretch your arms up forward and above your head. Lower your hands towards the floor, unlock your knees and bend them a little. In the final position, your lower abdomen should touch your thighs and your knees should be slightly bent. Hold the position for 20-30 seconds and slowly regain the initial position.

Helpful tip: if you suffer from hamstring pain, use a low chair for support instead of bending over all the way to the floor.


3. The Knee to Chest Stretch


This exercise is very good to do to improve the strength and flexibility of your glute muscles.

How to do it: lie down on your back on a hard surface (floor). Bring up one knee and fold it in until your upper leg is flat against your chest. Use both hands to hold the position for at least 30 seconds. Repeat using the other leg. This exercise should be done 10 times per leg every day.

Helpful tip: place a pillow under your buttocks for more comfort.


4. Back Extensions


This exercise will strengthen all the muscle groups in your back and should be a part of your morning routine even if you do not suffer from lower back pain.

How to do it: lie down on your stomach, supporting your upper body on your elbows and forearms. Keeping your neck straight (do not push back with your neck) arch up your upper body, by pushing down on your forearms. Keep arching up your upper body until you feel tension in your abdominal muscles. Hold the pose for 20-30 seconds and repeat five times.


5. Bottom to Heels Stretch


Another useful exercise, helping you strengthen your back and upper legs muscles, the bottom to heels stretch should be a part of your warm-up and morning routine.

How to do it: Get on the floor on your hands and knees, making sure that your hands are a little behind your shoulders, and the knees behind your hips. Slowly fold down your lower body, until your buttocks touch your heels. Do not take your hands of the floor, but extend them as your body moves towards the back. Hold the position for 20-30 seconds and repeat 8-10 times.

Helpful tip: use a sports mat with a smooth surface to avoid bruising your knees.

Why Do You Have Back Pain?

Low back pain is the single most common cause of disability worldwide, with an estimated 80% of our population expected to experience some form of back pain at some point in their lives.

But why back pain?

The way we have evolved as a race means that most of us spend the best part of our day sitting, whether that be at a desk in work, in front of the TV, or in the car driving. It is very difficult to maintain perfect posture for these extended periods of time, therefore, as fatigue sets in, and we begin to ‘slouch’, we can easily place unwanted stress and tension on some of the joints and ligaments of our spine.

Why does it keep coming back?

We’ve all been there. You have been diagnosed as having a ‘slipped disc’ or a ‘trapped nerve’, a few treatment sessions later the pain has resolved and you have resumed your everyday life. Great. One year later, the exact same thing happens again and you are back to square one.

What we do differently at SPI?

At SPI, we base our whole assessment around discovering the ROUTE CAUSE of your pain. Whether that be muscle Imbalance, poor pelvic/core stability, reduced one legged control, postural issues, among many others, we work hard to correct these problems to ensure that your back pain does not become a recurring issue.

Here are some of the exercises I like to use to combat some of the issues mentioned above. Give them a try and let us know how you get on.

Riain Casey
Chartered Physiotherapist

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