It is estimated that 60 to 70% of adults experience low back pain in their lifetime. A very common pain, low back pain can be so bad that it is debilitating and can negatively affect day-to-day life.
While some conditions can provoke back pain, they can also be caused by risk factors like occupational posture, obesity, and body height. As long as your lower back pain is not due to a spinal condition, consider the following stretches and exercises for lower back pain.
Causes of Back Pain Problems
Back pain can be caused by a number of issues. From a chiropractic standpoint, spinal subluxations are the first thing we look for and correct. If your spine is out of alignment, working on your muscles will have little impact on your lower back problems.
However, patients also ask us about their muscles and what role these play in back pain. That is what this article will discuss.
Normal back pain can be exacerbated by an imbalance between your back and abdominal muscles. When one group of muscles is stronger than the other, your muscles pull in contrary ways, sometimes causing pelvic tilt. If you have a weak back but strong core muscles, a tight core muscle will pull your lower back muscles and move your lumbar spine out of alignment.
Stretching is not always the way to resolve back pain at its root. If you have chronic back pain, consult an experienced chiropractor. At an office like ours at Matthews Family Chiropractic, we will take X-rays to see what’s going on.
While stretching may alleviate pain temporarily, you may need to strengthen certain muscle groups like your back or your abs, or consider a quadriceps stretch that stretches out your hip flexor, a seated hamstring stretch, or a shoulder or chest stretch.
Are Stretches Good for Lower Back Pain?
The fact is that performing a lower back stretch can provide pain relief, but it can sometimes make matters worse.
What Is The One Stretch That Relieves Back Pain?
There is no single best stretch guaranteed to relieve back pain, but you can consider holding a bent knee to your chest. Lie on your back, fully supine and relaxed, and pull your leg up to your chest. Your knee should be bent and your foot will line up with your hip.
Be careful not to pull on your knee too hard, but your hands can help to keep your leg close to your chest. You’ll feel this in your gluteus muscles.
What is the Best Exercise for Lower Back Pain?
Even if you are currently experiencing pain, you can consider a gentle stretch or mild strength training to alleviate the pain. Walking, swimming and biking are great exercises for reducing back pain.
Start with short sessions and then build up to longer sessions over time, that way you won’t overdo it.
Is It Bad to Stretch With Back Pain?
It’s important to remember that stretching isn’t always a good thing depending on the underlying problem. Some stretches can further pull your vertebrae out of alignment or worsen muscle cramps, so be careful if you’re stretching with back pain. Consider counter-active movements like mild backbends or superman holds.
With all that said, let’s finally discuss some specific things you can do if your chiropractor has “cleared” you to do so.
5 Best Stretches and Exercise for Back Pain
If you have back pain, we know you want to get rid of it fast. Here are 5 of the best stretches and exercises for back pain:
Glute bridges are great exercises to alleviate lower back pain. When you hold your glutes up away from the ground for a period of time to strengthen the gluteus maximus and surrounding muscles.
Starting position: on your back. Start by lying on your back with your feet flat on the floor. Your knees will be pointing to the sky. Plant your feet firmly into the ground and then push up and lift your bottom.
Hold your bottom in the air by tightening your glute muscles or the muscles on your buttocks. Hold this position for at least 30 seconds, or as long as you can do, and be sure that your body is straight and that your knees are in line with your shoulders.
Supermans are back extensions when you are lying face down on the floor. Sprawl out onto your stomach, with your arms slightly overhead and your legs straight. Using your back and butt muscles, lift your arms and legs off the ground at the same time. Like glute bridges, you want to hold this exercise for as long as you can, roughly 30 seconds.
Do this several times to feel your back working. This may counteract the sharp pains you are experiencing in your back. If you don’t want to lift your legs, just lift up your upper body and rest your elbows in a cobra stretch.
Lunges are leg exercises that can help make your glute and back stronger and alleviate back pain. Lunges require some balance, so if you need to, hold onto the wall or a chair next to you. To lunge, we recommend lunging backward. You take one fairly large step back and land on the ball of your foot. Then bend that knee down towards the ground until it almost touches the ground.
If your left leg is back, your right leg will start to squat down. Be sure that your right knee stays behind your toes and that you aren’t experiencing any knee pain. Go up and down on each leg about 10 times. This will strengthen your legs, glutes, and back and can help provide pain relief.
Figure 4 stretch is a great glute and piriformis stretch. The starting position is on your back. When lying on your back, take your right leg and cross it over the left leg, just over the left knee.
You then want to bring your right leg up so that the foot is flat on the ground. Take your hands and grasp around your right leg and try to pull it into the chest; no worries if you can’t. You should feel the stretch in your left glute.
Wall sits are another great exercise to isometrically strengthen your core, back, and glute! Grab any wall in your home or office as the starting position and lean so that your back is flat against the wall. With your feet about a foot away from the wall, slide down until your legs are at a 90-degree angle. Hold this for 30 seconds or until you feel the lactic acid building up!
What Else Can You Do To Alleviate Lower Back Pain?
No one should be plagued by lower back pain. If you have it, it can really put a damper on life. We are not advocates of people having to rely on pain medication. Our goal is to provide lower back pain treatment that addresses the main cause of the problem and develop a plan to help you fully recover.
You can also try these exercises and stretches to alleviate it. Gentle physical activity and stretching will help strengthen your muscles once your spine is back into alignment.
If you’re in the Matthews, North Carolina area, be sure to reach out us here at Matthews Family Chiropractic. We apply chiropractic methods targeted at adjusting joints and will suggest the best stretches to help reduce your back pain, as well as out-of-balance muscles. We can also suggest heat packs, cold therapy, and spinal manipulation to help relieve your pain. These are much better methods than considering the risks of back surgery, given their success rates.
Contact us to learn more or schedule an appointment today.