When your low back hurts, the last thing you want to do is get up and exercise. Fortunately, there are exercises that will bring relief to low back pain and help you get moving again. To find continued relief, it is important to do exercises that stretch, strengthen, and stabilize the back. These exercises can be done without any equipment, so you can do them at home.
- Hamstring Stabilizing Stretch
Studies show that some people experience low back pain when their hamstrings are tight. So, beginning your exercise routine with a basic hamstring stretch can bring immediate relief to the back. This is also a good exercise to do at the end of your daily routine. This exercise also helps to stabilize the pelvis, and takes care of signs you have a misaligned spine.
Do this exercise while lying on your back, and add a subtle upward arch to your low back – as if someone put their arm under your low back. Keep the back of your head, back, rear end, and both legs firmly on the ground. Extend your legs side by side.
Begin by lifting the right leg to the sky and wrapping both hands around the back of your thigh. Keep the lifted legs straight. If this is uncomfortable, you can bend the left knee and put the left foot on the floor. With the hands interlaced around the back of your thigh, begin to press the leg into your hands and your hands into your leg.
Your right leg shouldn’t move much, and should stay upright with the heel reaching toward the sky. If you feel like you can straighten the left leg, press as much of it into the floor as possible. Hold for a few breaths with the muscles working. Then, release the right leg and slowly lower it to the ground. Notice if it is slightly longer than the left leg. Then, repeat on the other side.
- Balancing Extension
For this exercise, you begin on your hands and knees. To stretch and strengthen the back, extend the left leg behind you. Keep it level with your spine; do not lift it higher than your back. Keep the lifted leg straight. Then, reach your right arm in front of you, no higher than your back. Look down at the floor to align the spine. Point your toes toward the floor and lengthen as much as possible through the leg and arm. Hold for a few breaths, then switch sides.
You can do this exercise slowly, holding the posture. Or, you can lift and lower, moving with your inhales and exhales. Repeat a few times on each side.
- Back Bridge
This is another stretch that can strengthen and stabilize the low back. For this exercise, start laying on your back. Bend your knees and keep your feet on the floor. Extend your arms along the side of your body and adjust your feet so your fingertips barely graze your heels. Feet and knees should be hips distance apart. Lift your hips off of the ground, and create a straight line from your head to your knees, keeping your head on the floor looking directly to the sky. Hold for a few breaths. Release. Repeat a few times.
- Wall Sits
These exercises bring relief from sitting in “comfy” chairs. Begin by standing about 10 inches away from a wall, with your back facing it. Lean into the wall so your spine and back of your head rest against it. Bend your knees until they are as close to 90 degrees as you can stand. Engage your ab muscles and hold for a few breaths. Slide back up. Repeat, increasing the length of time you sit as your back and abs get stronger.
These classic exercises can be modified in a variety of ways, so you should be able to do them and avoid back pain. A plank is the “up” position of a push up. Your hands should be under your shoulders, or if you prefer to do them on your forearms, be sure your elbows are under your shoulders, not splayed out to the sides.
If your low back hurts, drop your knees until you have built more core strength. Be sure that your rear end is not sagging low or lifting high. The key to this exercise is to be in a straight line, from head to heel – thus the name “plank.” Many people like to use a timer, beginning at one minute or 30 seconds, and increasing 10 seconds each day.
About Dr. Wells
Dr. Brent Wells, D.C. founded Better Health Chiropractic & Physical Rehab and has been a chiropractor for over 20 years. His practice has treated thousands of patients from different health problems using services designed to help give long-lasting relief.
Dr. Wells is also the author of over 700 online health articles that have been featured on sites such as Dr. Axe, Organic Facts, and Thrive Global. He is a proud member of the American Chiropractic Association and the American Academy of Spine Physicians. And he continues his education to remain active and updated in all studies related to neurology, physical rehab, biomechanics, spine conditions, brain injury trauma, and more.