Low back pain is one of the most common ailments among adults and children. Factors like strain and long periods spent sitting can both lead to serious low back pain. Even pregnancy and postpartum changes can create severe back pain. According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), age fitness level, weight, mental health, backpack overload and job-related factors can all contribute to low back pain.
Unfortunately, pain in the lower back is not something that tends to resolve on its own. What’s more, low back pain often grows worse with time if it’s left unaddressed. Many people actually experience escalating pain issues when back pain goes untreated because they begin to compensate their posture and movements to work around the pain. Take a look at what you should know to avoid this scenario.
What Does Low Back Pain Feel Like?
Back pain can take on many forms. The easiest way to describe low back pain is to call it a pain that is experienced in the lower region of your back. However, there is quite a bit of variance as far as severity. Some people experience low back pain as a shooting, stabbing or burning sensation. The pain can be constant for some people. Other people may feel sudden, acute pain when making movements or standing up. Low back pain does often worsen with movements like bending, lifting and walking. It’s also possible for low back pain to migrate all the way down the legs.
Living with low back pain can be prohibitive. First, people with this type of pain often live in a state of constant discomfort. Everything from sitting at a computer desk to standing in front of the sink to wash dishes can be extremely painful. What’s more, people with low back pain often live in fear of exacerbating the condition through physical activity. Many people with this type of pain have had the experience of a very sudden, sharp pain rippling through the low back when working out or playing sports. As a result, they shy away from doing physical activity. This can create a sedentary, unhealthy lifestyle that ultimately makes it even more difficult to stay in shape. It can be a very unfortunate cycle where an untreated back issue leads to many more issues. The solution is to address low back pain as early as possible to help prevent pain and inflammation.
The best strategy is always going to be seeking professional help for low back pain. This often means seeking chiropractic treatments that are focused on addressing the underlying cause of the pain. Ideally, this strategy will also include some guidance on posture that will help to prevent future low back injuries. However, it is possible to do some self-guided exercises for low back pain at home if you’re unable to get to an appointment right away. Take a look at four simple exercises for low back pain.
Four Exercises for Low Back Pain
The Pelvic Tilt
A pelvic tilt is one of the most common exercises for helping to relieve low back pain and tightness. This exercise works by building strength in your abdominal muscles. Here’s how to do a classic pelvic tilt:
- 1. Begin flat on your back.
- 2. Make sure that both knees are bent with your feet flat on the floor.
- 3. Next, tighten your abdominal muscles as you really flatten your back against the floor. Hold this position for 10 seconds.
- 4. Finally, release.
- 5. You can now take a few deep breaths to allow your body to relax.
Pelvic tilts should ideally be done in reps of three to five in a row. If possible, do up to three sets at a time. This exercise can be done several times throughout the day to help release tension in your lower back that is causing pain.
The Hamstring Stretch
People who are taught the hamstring stretch often wonder what the hamstrings have to do with low back pain. Running down the length of the back of your thigh, the hamstring is a muscle group that can easily become very tight. This tightness will often radiate to cause pain in the lower back. As a result, stretching the hamstrings is a great way to relieve pain and tension in the lower back. This exercise can be especially helpful if you suspect that your low back pain is caused by sitting for long hours at your work desk. Here’s how to do a hamstring stretch without even leaving your work chair:
- 1. Begin standing facing your chair.
- 2. Next, place the heel of your foot on the chair. Your leg should be making a straight line to the chair.
- 3. Next, bend from your hips to lean forward toward your toes.
- 4. Stop to hold the position as soon as you feel a “stretching” feeling in the back of your thigh.
- 5. Get into posture again to perform the stretch using your other leg.
Try to fit in about a minute’s worth of hamstring stretches at least twice a day! If you prefer not to work with a chair, simply improvise with “wall” hamstring stretches. This technique allows you to get flat on your back to put both legs straight up on the wall together. You will then simply inch closer to the wall while straightening your knees out.
The Trunk Rotation
The trunk rotation is a favorite stretch of many people with low back pain and tension because it offers very direct relief to the area. This stretch also works several muscles around your core, back and pelvis. Here’s how to do a trunk rotation:
- 1. Begin flat on your back.
- 2. Next, bring your knees up toward your chest. You should find yourself positioned the same way you would be if you were seated in a chair.
- 3. Next, extend your arms out to the sides. Press your palms facing down on the floor.
- 4. Begin to roll both of your bent knees to the left side. Hold for 30 seconds while ensuring that your knees stay together. Your hands should also not move!
- 5. After 30 seconds, return to the starting position.
- 6. Repeat the stretch using your right side.
Ideally, trunk rotations should be done in reps of 10. This is a stretch that can be harder to do than it looks simply because you’re coordinating so many different muscle groups. It’s fine to start with as many as you can do at a time before working your way up to reps of 10.
The Cat-Cow Stretch
The cat-cow stretch is an alternative to stretches that require you to start flat on your back. The benefit of this stretch is that it’s great for easing tension in the lower back by allowing you to stretch your back. It also helps to increase flexibility to prevent future strain. Here’s how to do this stretch:
- 1. Begin on your hands and knees. The knees should be about hip-width apart.
- 2. Next, arch your back. A good way to get into a proper arch is to imagine that you are pulling your belly button up to your spine. Your head should drop forward. You should be in what resembles a “cat” pose when done correctly. Stay in this position for 10 seconds.
- 3. You can now return to your starting position.
- 4. You’ll now raise your head while allowing your pelvis to go forward. Meanwhile, your back should be curving down toward the floor. You’ll notice that you are now in the “cow” pose. Stay in this position for 10 seconds.
You can now complete the “cat” and “cow” positions in tandem like this for between 15 and 20 reps. The cat-cow pose is actually a pose that’s borrowed from yoga. According to researchers, yoga is effective for easing moderate to severe chronic low back pain.
Never Ignore Low Back Pain
There’s no benefit to simply ignoring low back pain. In many cases, exercises and stretches can help to greatly relieve tension and pain. These techniques are also beneficial for preventing future low back pain because they help to strengthen muscle groups throughout the back and core.