Do you suffer from lower back pain? If so, you’re not alone.
The American Chiropractic Association has discovered that back pain is the most common cause of physical disability. In fact, the pain may be so severe that people are prevented from participating in normal daily activities like going to work or playing with their kids.
What causes all of this pain? Usually, it’s things like:
- Sitting too much
- An old accident or injury
- Muscle strain
- Using poor lifting or pulling techniques
- Carrying a heavy bag or briefcase every day
- Overstrain during workouts
Of course, there are many other causes of lower back pain, and some people are never quite sure how their back pain started. Nonetheless, they know that they may experience sometimes debilitating pain, often at the most inconvenient times.
What Should You Do If Your Back Suddenly Hurts?
It makes sense to take a break if your back is hurting. If you think you know what you did to hurt your back, such as performing a certain exercise, then refrain from using that movement for at least a few days.
You might take an over-the-counter anti-inflammatory drug like ibuprofen and place an ice pack on the affected area. After a few days, it’s wise to get back on your feet by taking daily walks, which can bring a surprising amount of relief.
If the pain worsens or simply persists, then it may be time to seek the care of a chiropractor who can perform safe and effective spinal adjustments.
Chiropractors also may recommend that you perform some beneficial exercises that stretch and strengthen the lower back and the muscles that help to support it. This not only helps your back to heal but also makes lower back pain less likely to be a problem in the future.
Here’s a look at four of the most beneficial exercises for relieving lower back pain.
1. Child’s Pose
This is an incredibly simple exercise, but it can bring amazing pain relief to the lower back. In addition to relieving the lower back, this position stretches the hips, thighs, and ankles. Be sure to breathe deeply during this exercise to feel total relaxation.
To perform child’s pose, lower yourself to sit on your shinbones with your toes together and your knees about shoulder-width apart. Your palms are resting on top of your thighs.
Exhale your breath as you lower your torso, stretching your arms up and over your head along the surface of the floor. Rest your hands on the floor with your palms facing downward. Relax your shoulders.
Give yourself 30 seconds to one minute in this position, breathing all the while. You may return to the starting position to perform child’s pose again to further improve your flexibility.
Sometimes called hip raises or glute bridges, this is another simple move that not only stretches your lower back but also strengthens it. At the same time, performing the bridge strengthens many of the muscles that support your back, such as the hips, core, hamstrings, and glutes.
To begin, lie down flat on the floor. Bend your knees, placing your feet flat on the floor. Squeeze the glutes, press the heels into the floor and lift up the hips. At the top, your knees, hips, and shoulders will form a straight line. Try not to arch your back on the upward movement.
Hold the upward position for five or six seconds before releasing slowly back to the floor. Rest for five or six seconds before repeating the exercise. Try to complete the movement eight to 12 times.
3. Piriformis Stretches
Many people are not aware that they even have a piriformis muscle, yet it is the cause of a great deal of lower back pain. In fact, the piriformis is a tiny muscle. Nonetheless, it has a big job to perform because it is the muscle that makes it possible for you to move your feet, upper legs, and hips away from your body.
The piriformis additionally covers the sciatic nerve that runs all the way from the lower back and down through the legs. It is not uncommon for people to experience a pinch in this nerve, creating a condition that is known as sciatica.
The sciatic nerve takes a beating in everyday life. Symptoms of a pinch may include feelings of numbness or tingling. Some people even experience acute pain that may be momentary or last for hours. In general, the pain associated with sciatica radiates from the lower back into the hips, glutes, and legs. This condition can make it difficult to sit or change positions.
Several different versions of piriformis stretches may be beneficial. These include:
- Simple Seated Stretch
- Standing Piriformis Stretch
- Supine Piriformis Stretch
- Groin/Long Adductor Stretch
Let’s take a closer look at each.
The simple seated stretch can be performed in almost any chair. Sit down, crossing one leg over the knee of the other leg. Keep your spine straight as you bend your chest forward. Continue to bend forward until you feel a stretch through the glute and hip in the crossed leg. Return to the start and repeat on the other side.
Perform the standing piriformis stretch while resting one hand on a wall or the back of a chair. Place one leg over the knee of the other leg to create a shape that resembles a numeral four. Bend your standing leg and lower your hips at a 45-degree angle. Bend forward at the waist, reaching down with your arms toward the ground. Make certain that your spine remains straight throughout. Hold this position for between 30 seconds and one minute. Straighten up and repeat on the other side.
The supine piriformis stretch works on the same principle as the other piriformis stretches. However, this time, you are lying on your back. Bend your knees, placing your feet flat on the floor. Cross one leg over the other. Place one hand on the knee and the other on the ankle of the crossed leg and gently bring the leg toward your torso. Hold the position for 30 seconds to one minute. Return to the beginning position to repeat on the other side.
The groin/long adductor stretch involves sitting on the floor with your legs out straight and as wide as they will go. Place your hands next to each other on the floor in front of you as you gently bring your torso forward. Stop moving forward if you feel any pain. Try to lean your elbows on the ground. Stay in this position for between 10 and 20 seconds before returning to the start. Repeat to see if you can slightly deepen the stretch.
4. Bird Dog
This exercise is great for building coordination and stabilizing the lower back while the arms and legs move.
Get down on the floor on your hands and knees. Make certain that your spine is straight, creating a flat, tabletop position, and that your stomach muscles are tight. Slowly raise your right leg and left arm off the floor, keeping them straight. Raise the arm to be in line with your shoulder and the leg to be in line with your hip so that a straight line is created from the tips of your fingers to the tips of your toes. Lower the right leg and left arm back to the starting position to repeat on the other side.
If you have difficulty moving the arm and leg simultaneously, try this movement using just the legs until your muscles are stronger and you have greater stability.
Keep Moving with Integrative Physical Health
Doing these four exercises on a routine basis will go a long way toward alleviating your lower back pain. To get even more relief, consider scheduling a consultation and follow-up appointments with Integrative Physical Health.
Our healthcare professionals can use spinal adjustments that will improve your posture, enhance your range of motion and lessen your lower back pain. We’ll even show you additional exercises that you can do at home to strengthen your lower back and the muscles that support it like those in the glutes, hips, thighs, and core.
Call Integrative Physical Health today to experience less low back pain tomorrow.