Roughly 8 out of 10 people will experience back pain at some point in their lives. Americans are living more and more of their lives sitting down, with the number of sedentary jobs nearly doubling since 1950.
So the odds are that at some point, you too will experience lower back pain (if you haven’t already). The good news is that there are a number of ways you can address it on your own before having to seek out professional help.
Stretches that help with lower back pain
A whole host of simple stretches can work wonders for relieving lower back pain. But the key is taking the time to do them. In general, stretches require you hold them for about 30 seconds and that you repeat them at least 3 times to have a lasting effect on your muscles.
Additionally, move into your stretches gently and avoid “bouncing,” which can strain the muscles.
Here are a variety of stretches you can perform on your own:
- One-legged hamstring stretches
- Lie with your back flat against the floor. Take a towel or band and wrap it across the bottom of one of your feet. Straighten that leg and lift it up until you feel a stretch in your hamstrings. Then switch legs.
- Knees to chest
- Lie with your back flat against the floor. Place your hands just below your knees and pull them to your chest until you feel a stretch in your lower back.
- Lower back rotational stretch
- Sit upright in a chair. Grab the back and arm of the chair and twist your torso until you feel a stretch. Then switch.
- Child’s pose
- Start on your knees with your buttocks resting on your ankles. Reach as far forward as you can with your hands touching the floor. Hold that pose.
- Cat camels
- Get on your hands and knees. Slowly arch your back towards the ceiling. Hold for 3-5 seconds. Then slowly let your abdomen sink toward the floor. Hold for 3-5 seconds. Repeat 5 times.
Standing toe touches may be the most common hamstring stretch, but they may not be the most helpful for lower back pain, as they can put stress on the disks and ligaments in your spine.
Exercises that help with lower back pain
In addition to stretches, there are many exercises that can help reduce tension and pain in your lower back. Remember to start light and only increase volume as you feel able. Sharp pain and persistent soreness should be red flags to stop.
Here are a few exercises you can perform on your own:
- Walking is one of the most helpful things you can do for your back, but it’s also one of the most overlooked. Research shows that walking reduces pain and improves outcomes for lower back pain.
- Lie with your back flat against the floor. Then squeeze your glutes and move your hips up until your knees, hips and shoulders are in a straight, diagonal line. Hold for a second, then return to the floor. Repeat 10-15 times for 2-3 sets. This will strengthen your glutes.
- Partial crunches
- Lie with your back flat against the floor and your feet flat on your ground. Place your hands across your chest or behind your head. Raise your shoulders off the floor with your feet, tailbone and lower back still on the floor. Hold for about one second, then return to the floor. Repeat 10-15 times for 2-3 sets. This will strengthen your abdominal muscles.
- Make sure to avoid lifting your shoulders too far off the ground or doing a full sit-up, as this will put pressure on the discs in your spine.
- Bird dogs
- Get on your hands and knees. Slowly raise one leg until it is straight behind you. Hold for about a second, then lower. Switch legs. Repeat 10 times for 2-3 sets. This will strengthen your glutes.
It’s also worth noting that lifting weights can have a positive effect on lower back pain, depending on the exercises and weights used. But anything that causes acute pain or persistent soreness should be avoided, as should heavy amounts of weight.
Instruments that help relieve lower back pain
There are simple, affordable instruments you can buy that help relieve lower back soreness and pain, such as:
- Foam roller
- Lacrosse ball
- Ice or heat pack
- Ergonomically-designed furniture (this can be more expensive but help you prevent back pain by providing more support)
Still feeling pain?
If you continue to experience lower back pain even after trying these at-home measures, your spine may need the help of a professional. At Petett Chiropractic, we perform non-invasive chiropractic adjustments to help our patients get back to the pain-free lifestyle they’ve longed for. Give us a call today!