The vast majority of us will suffer some sort of lower back pain at some time in our lives. In many cases, back pain occurs due to overuse, strain and injury due to sports activities. When the pain is mild, chances are your back will heal naturally — but one thing you shouldn’t do is become inactive. Gentle, low-impact movements and stretches will strengthen your core and keep you flexible while the muscles heal. Below we describe three low back pain rehabilitation exercises to help facilitate your healing.
General Instructions and Cautions
Every back injury is different, so it’s important to start with the following important instructions:
- Consult with your doctor before doing any back pain exercises, including the ones below. The rehabilitation exercises we describe assume your injuries are due to mild lower back strain. If your pain comes from a more significant spinal injury or degenerative illness, these exercises could make things worse — so double check with your physician first.
- Don’t do any exercise that hurts your back. In this case, the “no-pain-no-gain” rule does NOT apply. If it hurts, you’re either doing it wrong, or that particular exercise is not for you.
- No sudden moves and no extreme stretches. All the exercises below should be done gently and gradually.
With these cautions in mind, let’s look at three low-impact exercises that can help your lower back.
1. Back Extension Exercise
This exercise gently stretches your back to improve flexibility, increase blood flow and reduce lower back pain. Lie flat on a mat on the floor, facedown, arms limp by your sides; then slowly raise your head and shoulder without using your arms. Repeat several times. This works the muscles in your lower back.
2. Abdominal Muscle Strengthening
Your abdominal muscles work in tandem with your lower back to keep your core strong and support your spine. Start by lying on the floor on your back, bend your knees and keep your feet flat on the floor. Slowly lift your knee and bring it toward your chest until it won’t go further, then slowly return it. Do the same with the other knee. Do 6-10 reps of this at once, then rest.
If you’ve ever done yoga, you know this stretch. It’s a great way to stretch the spine safely. Begin on your hands and knees on the exercise mat. Take a deep breath, then slowly curve your back upward while exhaling. As you breathe in again, slowly drop the spine and arch your back in the other direction. Repeat several times.
Again, if you feel pain with any of these exercises, stop doing them. If pain continues, consult your doctor. If your back pain is a result of more serious issues, your doctor may recommend exercising under the watchful eye of a physical therapist. To learn more, call Polaris Spine & Neurosurgery Center at 404-256-2633.