Millions of Americans suffer from back pain, and it can take a significant toll on their lives – sometimes eliminating any ability to work. But new research shows that a simple exercise program may help people with chronic low back pain ease their discomfort.
In the first study of its kind, researchers found that an exercise program consisting of 12 weeks of weight training and aerobic exercises reduced low back pain by 31% among participants. The findings were published in Annals of Internal Medicine in 2015.
Lower back pain is one of the most common complaints seen at doctors’ offices. Many people suffer from lower back pain for several reasons, including jobs that require stooping or lifting heavy objects. If you’re experiencing lower back pain, it’s essential to know ways to prevent or alleviate it so that you can avoid surgery or the risk of permanent damage. One exercise you might try is swimming, which massages muscles and joints in the back without harming them. While this isn’t a cure, it can help you manage lower back pain.
Physical therapy can help reduce or manage your low back pain with a therapeutic exercise program. With a physical therapist, you may be able to improve your functional ability and decrease pain intensity with exercises to strengthen muscles, stretch tight muscles, and improve balance.
One exercise that can help relieve low back pain is a simple T-spine flexion and extension. The objective is to stretch the muscles around the lumbar spine while holding a partial range of motion. This simple exercise can be easily performed by anyone at home.
Table of Contents
- Most Common Causes of Lower Back Pain
- 7 Stretching Excercises for Quick Lower Back Pain Relief
- What is the best exercise for lower back pain?
- Which exercises are good for relieving lower back pain?
- Which exercises benefit low back pain?
- How do you relieve your back pain with exercise?
- How long should you exercise to relieve lower back pain?
- Is aerobic exercise safe for the back?
- How can you relieve your lower back pain with flexibility?
- How to relieve lower back pain?
Most Common Causes of Lower Back Pain
Before deciding the best ways to treat lower back pain it’s important to know what causes this problem.
One of the most common causes of back pains is overuse. Your muscles literally grow tired every time you lift anything, including your own body weight. If you use them too much they get strained and cause pains, which will prevent you from using them, causing even more pain. The less your muscles are used in normal life the weaker they become, in this way causing fatigue and muscle strain eventually leading to low back pain.
Sitting Too Long
This is the most common cause of lower back pain. People usually sit all day, spending hours at a computer or a chair. After a while, the muscles in your lower back will get tense and painful.
Lifting Heavy Objects
If you do a lot of heavy lifting, especially when it comes to carrying things around the house or working in the yard, your lower back will eventually get sore and tender to touch. This can eventually lead to severe lower back pain if not treated.
Being pregnant can be a very rewarding experience indeed. But being pregnant also means that extra weight will be added to the body. The pressure from the extra weight can cause pain in the lower back. Also, since you might not have proper posture while carrying a baby, your lower back will have to carry the extra weight.
Stress can cause the body to react by producing excess cortisol. This hormone is responsible for breaking down muscle tissue to help the body cope with stress. This can contribute to muscle fatigue and inflammation which in turn can cause lower back pain.
Fungal infections in the spine and elsewhere (like Meniere’s Disease) can sometimes cause pain in the lower back, although this is rare.
Being fat increases the pressure on the pelvis, causing pain in the low back. This is also known as Sacroiliac Joint Pain.
Exercising Too Hard
Excessive exercise can cause the low back to get sore and tender, especially if you are not used to exercising for a long time. It can also lead to injury if you do it too hard for too long.
A common cause of lower back pain is a slipped disc. This can happen if you are involved in a car accident, or if you have a job that requires heavy lifting or lifting heavy objects all day long. This kind of lower back pain usually occurs under the ribs and on the sides of the spine. Another common cause of lower back pain is disc herniation.
Stiff muscles are usually responsible for low back pain. Stiff muscles are caused by holding your body in an unnatural or awkward position for a long time. This kind of problem usually occurs when you sit for reading, typing at your computer, commuting on the train or bus, or taking an airplane ride.
7 Stretching Excercises for Quick Lower Back Pain Relief
Stretching releases tension throughout the body, making it particularly helpful for muscle contraction. Stretching is especially helpful if you are experiencing lower back pain.
The Pelvic Tilt
The pelvic tilt is a great exercise for strengthening your back muscles. To do the pelvic tilt, lie on your back with both legs straight out in front of you. Try to keep both shoulders flat against the ground. Slowly lift your head and shoulders off the ground, bring your chin down to your chest, and slowly relax again. Repeat 10 times. As you get stronger, work up to lifting more of your upper torso off the ground while keeping both shoulders on the floor.
The bridge exercise can help strengthen your back muscles and improve their ability to handle stress. Lying on the ground with both arms by your sides, slowly lift both knees up to meet your chest. Hold for a few seconds, then slowly lower again. Start out with three sets of 10 repetitions, but work your way up as you get stronger.
Muscles are made stronger by exercise, but they can also be stretched. This is beneficial if you are not able to exercise due to lower back pain. To stretch your hip flexors, lie on your stomach with one knee bent and the other leg straight out in front of you. Slowly raise the bent knee up towards your chest; hold for a few seconds, then slowly lower it back down. Repeat 10 times on each side for three sets each.
Many people find relief in a chest stretch exercise. With your back flat on the ground, cross one arm over to the other side of your head, and gently pull your shoulder blades down towards the ground. Hold for a few seconds, then release and repeat on both sides.
Gentle Trunk Rotation Stretches
This exercise can help loosen tight muscles in your back, making them more flexible. Lie on the ground on your stomach with your arms by your side. Slowly lift your head, shoulders, and feet off the ground. Hold the position for a few seconds, then slowly lower yourself to the ground. Repeat 10 times.
The Prayer Stretch
The Prayer Stretch is a great exercise for relieving lower back pain and improving flexibility. Start kneeling and place one hand lightly on the back of your neck and the other hand across your chest. Slowly inhale, and as you exhale, reach up with your arms to stretch. Hold for a few seconds, then slowly relax. Repeat 10 times on each side.
Plank pose can be helpful when trying to regain strength in muscles that are often weakened due to recent injuries. It is especially helpful when you are in the beginning phase of recovery.
The position is usually done with your body and feet on the ground and elbows and hands held against your sides. To enter the position, stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and arms by your sides, and lift one foot off the ground, keeping your weight on both hands. Keep both shoulders flat against the ground, and keep bending forward toward the ground until you feel a slight burning sensation in either side of your mid-back or lower back.
Upward Dog Yoga Position
This yoga position helps strengthen the muscles of your lower back. Start by standing with one foot about 6 inches off the ground. Place your hands on each side of your hips and step forward so that your buttocks lightly touch the ground, but you do not lose your balance. Keep your back straight and hold for a few seconds, then slowly lower yourself to start again.
What is the best exercise for lower back pain?
According to a new study, aerobic exercise is effective in reducing pain and disability in people with chronic low back pain. Published in the European Spine Journal, scientists from the Netherlands reviewed five randomized controlled trials of exercise interventions for chronic back pain. More than 2,100 patients participated, with follow-up ranging from three months to two years. Study participants were given tailored aerobic exercise programs involving walking, combined aerobic and strength exercises, or cycling.
Which exercises are good for relieving lower back pain?
The type of activity thought to be most effective was walking, with slight improvements from cycling or combined aerobic and strength activities. This is good news for patients with chronic back pain who wish to improve their fitness, as the investigators point out that these activities are “quickly and easily incorporated into daily life.”
“Regular exercise has been shown to reduce pain intensity and increase function in individuals suffering from chronic low back pain,” says Dr. Peter Millett, lead author of the study.
“It is important to realize that exercise itself won’t cure the disorder,” he adds. “Instead, exercise can be an effective tool for improving fitness and promoting recovery.”
Which exercises benefit low back pain?
The authors point out that the definition of aerobic exercise is not uniform. But regardless of its definition, it seems that walking was the best type of activity for relieving chronic low back pain. Patients who participated in walking programs showed significant improvements in pain and disability over three months to two years.
How do you relieve your back pain with exercise?
The Dutch research team says that patients who had been inactive prior to the exercise programs gradually ramped up their activity levels, starting with just 10 minutes of walking three times a week. “It is essential that patients begin exercising gradually and build up their activity level over time,” says Dr. Millett.
The positive results from aerobic exercise are encouraging for people with chronic back pain, but the researchers point out that only some people benefit from exercise programs. “For some patients, non-exercise treatments such as cognitive behavioral therapy and back schools are more effective,” says Dr. Millett. “The type of treatment should, therefore, be tailored to the individual’s needs.”
“It is also important to note that exercise isn’t a cure for chronic low back pain,” he adds. “But it can be an effective way of managing symptoms.
How long should you exercise to relieve lower back pain?
The best way to relieve your lower back pain is to exercise regularly. The Dutch researchers say that the best results are achieved by engaging in aerobic exercise for at least an hour per day. “If you can’t get up and walk for one hour, you should choose a shorter duration,” says Dr. Millett.
“We believe that for many people, a brisk walk for 10 minutes every few days – or every day if it suits your lifestyle – will be effective in managing their chronic low back pain,” he adds.
Is aerobic exercise safe for the back?
“We believe that aerobic exercise is safe for people with a back condition,” says Dr. Millett. “But a thorough consultation with your GP and physiotherapist before embarking on an exercise program is essential.”
The authors acknowledge that their study was limited by the absence of measures of aerobic fitness in the trials, which means it was not possible to determine if improvements in pain and disability were due to increased fitness or some other form of treatment. There was also no information about how long patients were engaged in the programs.
How can you relieve your lower back pain with flexibility?
The study results are encouraging news for those with chronic back pain. But the question remains, how can you relieve your lower back pain?” an essential aspect of managing this condition is ensuring that you maintain an active lifestyle,” says Dr. Millett. “Flexibility exercises are an easy way to boost your fitness levels, which will make it easier to perform regular exercise.
How to relieve lower back pain?
The researchers recommend that patients with chronic low back pain adopt a “whole person” approach to their treatment. This will help them maintain their fitness levels and reduce the risk of re-injury.