Whether it causes a dull ache or shooting/stabbing sensations, lower back pain can have a devastating impact on your quality of life.
It is one of the more common ailments, with an estimated 80 percent of adults who have lower back pain at some point in life.
The pain might go away without medical intervention, but with the right exercise and stretching routine, you can recover more quickly – and protect yourself against future flareups.
Exercises focused on your core muscles – those surrounding and supporting your spine and hips – can offer critical reinforcement while also making them better conditioned for movement and stretching.
Most people can benefit from these exercises. But in some instances, you should consult with a doctor or physical therapist before launching an exercise program. These include: if your pain has lingered for several weeks; if your pain is the result of an injury; if the pain or numbness has moved into your legs; and if the symptoms are keeping you up at night.
If any of these exercises aggravate your symptoms, this may help your doctor or physical therapist better understand what’s happening with your back.
Thread the Needle
This full-body stretch works on your hips and thighs while allowing a light twist of the spine.
Start on all fours, with your hips above your knees. Your elbows, shoulders and wrists will be in a straight line to the ground. Then lift your right hand up and thread it beneath your left arm.
Keep your hips high, while allowing your chest to move close to the ground. Keep pressure on your left palm by pushing your hips back and up. Hold for 30 seconds and repeat on the other side.
This one improves spinal posture, flexibility and alignment.
Start by lying on the ground on your stomach, with your hands by your sides, positioned under your shoulders, with hands pointed forward with palms down. Your toes should be pointing directly behind you.
Next, press your hips to the ground and gently push your chest upwards, while keeping your hips stable. Hold this arch position for 30 seconds. Then relax and lower your body back to the ground. Do six repetitions.
This one stretches your hamstrings and calves, while also strengthening your arms and legs.
Start on all fours, supported by your hands, knees and feet. Put your hands flat under your shoulders, with fingers pointed forward. Your knees and feet will be hip width apart.
Next, curl your toes and press your heels toward the ground, while lifting your knees from the ground as you straighten your legs as much as is comfortable. Press your palms into the ground while shifting your tailbone back toward your heels.
Keep your pelvis in a natural position, drawing your belly button in to engage your core and support your spine. Hold the position for at least 30 seconds, allowing the muscles supporting your spine to gently stretch. Repeat three times.
The simple exercise is meant to stretch muscles and encourage relaxation.
Start by kneeling on the floor, sitting back on your heels with your arms at your sides. Slowly bend forward until your stomach touches your thighs, while trying to keep your buttocks against your heels.
Extend your arms and hands in front of you, with your palms down, resting on the floor. Relax your neck and entire body and hold the pose for five minutes.
This exercise is designed to help your spinal flexion and extension, while improving your posture.
Start on all fours, with your knees and toes flexed and touching the floor. Your hips should be over your knees and hands should be under your shoulders. Apply tension to your shoulders and hips by deep breathing. Tuck your chin as if you are trying to hold something with it.
Next, let your breath out as you push your spine toward the sky and bring your head down to the ground. Tuck your pelvis in to complete the cat portion of the stretch. Hold for 30 seconds.
Then, breathe in as you arch your back and lift your head to the ceiling. Untuck your pelvis to complete the cow portion of the stretch. Hold for 30 seconds. Repeat six times.
This is the first of three exercises known as the McGill Big Three. They are designed to strengthen and protect the back.
Start by lying on the ground with one leg straight and one bent at a 90-degree angle. Put your hands flat beneath your lower back, with your elbows flat on the ground.
Next, brace your core, tuck your chin, and lift your chin and shoulders off the ground. Hold for 10 seconds and repeat six times.
This is the second of the McGill Big Three.
Start on the ground on your side, resting on your elbow, with your knees at a 90-degree angle.
Next, brace your core and lift your body up, keeping your knees, hips and shoulders in a straight line. Hold for 10 seconds and repeat six times on each side.
This is the third of the McGill Big Three.
Start on all fours, with your arms shoulder-width apart and knees directly below your hips.
Next, engage your core as you lift your right arm forward and your left leg back. Keep your spine straight and don’t let your left rise above your hip. Hold for 10 seconds, repeating six times on each side.
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