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Good and Bad Exercises for Low Back Pain

By AGE2B team
January 31, 2022

Treatment for Lower Back Pain: Exercises

Exercising is good for the lower back pain, but not all types of exercise are beneficial. If you have any mild discomfort when you first start exercising, it should go away as your muscles get stronger. If your pain is more than mild in intensity and if it lasts longer than 10 or 15 minutes while you are exercising, stop what you’re doing and contact your doctor. 

Certain exercises can make pain worse. Toe touches, for example, when they are done while standing, increase the stress on the ligaments and spinal discs. Standing toe touches can also overstretch the hamstrings and the muscles of the lower back.

Some people think sit-ups strengthen the abdominal muscles or core, but people tend to use their hip muscles most often when performing sit-ups. Sit-ups can also put a great deal of pressure on the spinal discs. They should be avoided for this reason. 

Some people suggest leg lifts as a good exercise to strengthen the abdominal muscles or core. Exercising is a good way to restore the strength in the lower back, but lifting both the legs up while lying flat on your back is not a good idea.

Doing leg lifts this way can make back pain much worse, especially if muscles are not strong because it is very stressful for the core. Try this exercise instead:

  • Lie on your back with your left leg bent at the knee and your right leg straight
  • Keep your lower back in contact with the floor at all times
  • Slowly lift your right leg about 6 inches straight up horizontally off the floor
  • Hold it up briefly
  • Slowly lower your right leg back to the floor and relax
  • Repeat 10 times
  • Repeat the movements with the left leg, keeping your right leg bent at the knee
Here are some of the other good exercises for back pain:

Good Exercises: Partial Crunches

Certain exercises can make back pain worse and need to be avoided by people who have acute pain in the low back. To strengthen your stomach and back muscles, try partial crunches.

  • Lie on the floor with your legs bent at the knees and your feet flat on the floor
  • Cross your arms over the chest or put your hands behind your head
  • Tense your abdominal muscles and lift your shoulders up off the floor, exhaling as you do this
  • Don’t use your arms or your elbows to pull your head up, and keep your feet, lower back and tailbone touching the floor at all times
  • Hold the tension briefly, then slowly lower your shoulders back to the floor
  • Repeat 8-10 times

Good Exercises: Hamstring Stretches

  • Lie down on the floor or a mat and bring your right leg toward your chest, bending it at the knee. Your left leg is flat on the floor or mat.
  • Draw a towel under your right foot, and grab the ends of it in your hands
  • Straighten your right leg, while slowly pulling on the towel toward your chest. Hold the tension for a count of 20 before relaxing and lowering your right leg.
  • Repeat the movements with your left leg
  • Repeat 4 times with each leg

Good Exercises: Wall Sits

  • Stand approximately 12 inches away from a flat wall
  • Turn around so your back is facing the wall
  • Lean back until your back is up against the wall and rests flat against it
  • Keeping your feet flat on the floor, slide your back down the wall slowly, pressing against the wall with your back
  • Stop sliding when your knees are slightly bent
  • Hold for a count of 8-10
  • Slowly slide back to a standing position
  • Repeat 10 -12 times

Good Exercises: Press-up Back Extensions

  • Lie on your abdomen
  • Place your hands underneath your shoulders
  • Push up with your hands, just until your shoulders begin to raise up off the floor
  • If you can, move your elbows so they are directly in line with your shoulders
  • Hold this position for a count of 5-10
  • Relax
  • Repeat 10 times

Good Exercises: Bird Dog

  • Get on your hands and knees
  • Tense your abdominal muscles
  • Raise your left leg and extend it back behind you, making sure to keep  your hips level
  • Hold this position for a count of 5
  • Lower your left leg
  • Repeat the movement with your right leg
  • Repeat the movements 10 times for each leg, lengthening the amount of time you hold them each time they are raised.

You can also try lifting and reaching with the arm opposite the leg that is being raised. This is an excellent way to learn to stabilize the lower back while moving the legs and arms. Be sure to not allow the muscles in your lower back to sag while you’re doing these movements. Also, only lift your arms and legs to points where you can maintain the position of your lower back.

Good Exercises: Knee to Chest

  • Lie on your back on the floor or on a mat
  • Bend your legs at the knees, keep your feet flat on the floor
  • Bring your left knee toward your chest, keeping your right foot flat on the floor and keeping your low back on the floor
  • Hold this position for a count of 30
  • Slowly lower your left leg
  • Repeat with your right leg
  • Repeat 5 times with each leg

Good Exercises: Bridging

  • Lie on your back on the floor or on a mat
  • Bend your legs at the knees and keep your heels on the floor. Tense your abdominal muscles and keep them tense.
  • Pressing your heels into the floor and lifting your toes, squeeze your buttocks and raise your hips until your hips, knees, and shoulders are all in one straight line
  • Hold this position for a count of 5
  • Slowly lower your hips back to the floor
  • Relax for a count of 10
  • Repeat 10 times

While doing this exercise, be careful not to arch your back when you lift your hips. Tensing your abdominal muscles will help avoid this.

Good Exercises: Pilates

Pilates exercise combines strengthening, stretching, and exercises for the abdominal core muscles. Some people who have back pain may benefit from Pilates that are taught by a professional instructor who has experience with back pain. If you decide to try this, be sure to check with your doctor first, and tell your instructor because there may be certain moves you will need to skip.

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