Most people who experience low back pain automatically assume they shouldn’t exercise. If anything, they want to spend time on their couch or in their bed– not moving… but here’s the deal: moving is actually good for your back.
If you have low back pain, there are helpful exercises you can do to strengthen the back as well as stomach and leg muscles. Ideally, you want to exercise these parts of the body in order to help support your spine and relieve pain.
Some exercises can aggravate low back pain. For example, you’d want to avoid doing standing toe touches because these put stress on the discs and ligaments in your spine. Toe touches can overstretch lower back muscles and hamstrings. You’d also want to avoid doing sit-ups. While you might think sit-ups could help strengthen your core/ab muscles, remember this: sit-ups use muscles in the hips… and they put too much pressure on the discs in your spine.
So what is a good exercise to do when you’ve got low back pain? How about partial crunches? These help strengthen both your stomach and back muscles. To do partial crunches, lie on the floor with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor. Cross your arms over your chest or put your hands behind your neck. Tighten your stomach muscles and raise your shoulder off the floor, breathing out as you raise your shoulders. With partial crunches you don’t lead with your elbows or arms to pull your neck off the floor. When you do partial crunches, you generally crunch for a second and then slowly lower your shoulders back down. Repeat this exercise about 10 times. Doing these crunches using proper form prevents having too much stress on your low back. Keep in mind that when you do partial crunches you should keep your feet, tailbone and lower back in contact with the floor/mat at all times.
Another good exercise for people with low back pain? Hamstring stretches! This is where you lie on your back and bend one knee. You can loop a towel under the ball of your foot. Straighten your knee and then slowly pull back on the towel, giving yourself a gentle hamstring stretch. Hold the stretch for about 20 seconds and do the stretch for each leg about 2 to 4 times.
If you’re experiencing low back pain and you want to exercise but you’re afraid you might be “doing it wrong,” please make an appointment with Lakewoods Chiropractic for some helpful guidance. Make an appointment at Lakewoods Chiropractic by calling the office at 651-464-0800 or emailing [email protected].