Nutrition & Fitness
10 Exercises That Help Soothe Lower Back Pain
Are you among the millions of Americans with lower back pain? If so, you know how debilitating it can be. Severe cases can make it challenging to leave the couch and attend to daily living needs.
Unfortunately, medical treatments for this disorder have a mixed efficacy rate. What can you do holistically to help the ache? Here are 10 exercises that help you stretch, strengthen and soothe lower back pain — may they bring you relief.
The beauty of this yoga-inspired movement is that you don’t need to put on gym attire to do it. You can perform a variation right in your office chair.
To do the traditional form of this pose, get down on all fours with your spine neutral. Drop into the cow as you inhale, lowering your belly and sinking into the saddle of your lower back. Then, with an exhalation, round out your spine like a scared Halloween kitty to move into the cat. Repeat until your muscles start to relax.
Those who are sedentary during the week often develop lower back pain from their weekend-warrior ways. You can use this pose to loosen up at your work desk. Place your hands on your thighs and scoot forward on your chair to create space. Then, alternately arch and round your spine.
2. Alternating Arm-Leg Reaches
Addressing lower back pain requires an integrated approach that combines stretching and strength. This movement helps develop your erector spinae muscles, which line your backbone.
Begin as you do in cat-cow, on all fours with a neutral spine. Keeping your back straight, extend your right arm and left leg. Hold for several seconds, then switch. You can perform this movement with your breath, or you can hold each side stationary for several seconds — do a bit of each variation.
3. Build a Bridge
This movement combines strength and flexibility. Begin by lying on your back with your feet drawn in toward your buttocks, palms down.
Keeping your feet flat, elevate your hips and hold. You can make the movement dynamic by lifting and lowering with your breath, extending your arms overhead as you rise. Alternatively, perform a static version and interlace your hands beneath your glutes, keeping your humerus on the floor.
4. Tighten Your Transverse
Your transverse abdominal muscles line your waist like a girdle and provide stability for your lower back. Planks are an ideal exercise for strengthening this area.
Throw in a side plank variation. From your pushup position, shift your body to the side, raising one arm toward the sky. You can keep the feet wide, stack them or even extend the top leg starfish-style.
5. Pull It Down
When you hit the gym, make the lat pulldown machine your friend. This device strengthens your upper back muscles and also improves your posture, keeping your lower back aligned.
For maximum benefits, keep your core engaged and torso stationary as you pull the bar toward your collarbone. Don’t rock back and forth — this motion can injure your lower back.
6. Start the Lawnmower
Another movement to strengthen your back muscles is a low pull. You can perform this standing by leaning forward, but those with lower back pain may find it more comfortable to prop their non-standing leg on a weight bench.
With your dumbbell in the same arm as the standing leg — or the rear-most one if doing an upright version — imagine you are starting a lawnmower. Pull the weight toward your torso until it is even with the midline of your chest.
7. Twist and Shout
Standing, seated and supine twists all increase lower back flexibility. Take a standing break at work and do some tai chi twists to get your blood flowing and ease discomfort.
In a seated position, twist using anything from the back of your chair to your hand on the opposite knee. When lying down, extend both legs, then bring one knee to your chest. Cross the leg over your body while you gaze in the opposite direction.
8. Roll It Up
Don’t worry if your back cracks a little while doing this exercise. Consider Mother Earth your chiropractor.
Lie down on your back on a semi-hard surface, like a rug. Hug your knees into your chest and rock back and forth. It should feel like a massage for your spine.
9. Plow It Out
If you have neck issues, you should avoid plow pose. However, those without such challenges will find this stretch tackles lower back pain that extends into your mid-region.
Lie on your back and elevate your feet behind your head, supporting yourself with your hands to start. As you become more comfortable with the movement, you can interlace your fingers beneath you with your humerus bone on the floor.
10. Make a Rainbow
Do you want the ultimate lower back strengthener that also incorporates flexibility? Embrace the rainbow by doing a wheel pose in yoga.
Begin by lying on your back with your feet close to your buttocks. Take your hands behind your shoulders and push yourself up into a backbend. If you can’t get it at first, don’t stress — use an inflatable fitness ball for support.
It helps to visualize your feet as a pot of gold and your body as making a rainbow flowing into it. Gently release this pose and hug your knees into your chest to counter-stretch.
Try These 10 Exercises to Soothe Lower Back Pain
Lower back pain can decrease your quality of life and make everyday tasks challenging. Ease your ache with the 10 exercises above.