You know that terrible pain you feel each time you bend over or stand up. That ache that shoots through your lower back. In most cases the pain is not caused by anything serious and will usually get better over time.
Fortunately, you can learn simple exercises to reduce lower back pain. But first off let’s see what are the symptoms of lower back pain and in which cases to immediately call your doctor.
Symptoms of lower back pain
Signs and symptoms of back pain can include:
- Muscle ache
- Shooting or stabbing pain
- Pain that radiates down your leg
- Pain that worsens with bending, lifting, standing or walking
- Pain that improves with reclining.
When To See a Doctor
Most back pain gradually improves with home treatment and self-care, usually within a few weeks. If yours doesn’t improve in that time, see your doctor.
Especially, if your back pain:
- Is accompanied by fever
- Follows a fall, blow to your back or other injury
- Is severe and doesn’t improve with rest
- Spreads down one or both legs, especially if the pain extends below the knee
- Causes weakness, numbness or tingling in one or both legs
- Is accompanied by unexplained weight loss
please immediately call your doctor!
Exercises That Can Reduce Lower Back Pain
As said above, most cases aren’t caused by a serious problem and get better on their own within a few weeks. These 4 exercises can reduce lower back pain:
1. Knees to Chest
Start doing the knees’-to-chest stretch with one leg only. Of course, start slowly. If, after a few days, you’re performing it without pain, it’s likely time to advance to lifting both legs. Here’s how to do it:
- Lie on your back with your knees’ bent and your feet flat on the floor.
- Gently raise one bent knee up enough so you can grasp your lower leg with both hands. Interlace your fingers just under the knee.
- If you’re doing the two-legged version, bring one leg up and then the other. Because taking both up at the same time takes a lot of abdominal strength, starting with one and then quickly following with the other is likely safer, especially for vulnerable backs.
- As with the single-legged version, if you are taking both up at the same time, interlace your fingers or clasp your wrists between the lower legs, just below the knees’.
- Gently pull your bent knee or knees’ toward your trunk, using your hands.
- While you’re pulling, try to relax your legs, pelvis and lower back as much as you can. The knees’-to-chest better reaches low back muscles when used passively.
- Hold for a few seconds.
- Return your leg to the floor.
- Repeat on the other side.
Do the stretch about 10 to 15 times, one or two times per day or as needed.
2. Pelvic tilt – core stability
Pelvic tilts build strength in your abdominal muscles, which helps relieve pain and tightness in your lower back. They also have a beneficial effect on your glutes and hamstrings.
To do a pelvic tilt, follow these steps:
- Lie on your back with both knees’ bent and feet flat on the floor.
- Engage your abdominal muscles as you flatten your back against the floor.
- Breathe normally, holding this position for up to 10 seconds.
- Release and take a few deep breaths to relax.
- Do 1 to 3 sets of 3 to 5 repetitions.
3. One Leg Stand
To perform this exercise position yourself behind a chair or next to something stable.
- Hold on to the chair back with both hands.
- Lift one leg off the ground, slowly.
- Maintain your balance while standing on one leg for 5 seconds.
- Return to the starting position and repeat 5 times. Try to increase the time spent standing on one leg.
- Perform with opposite leg.
4. Trunk rotation stretch
- Start in a supine position (lying on back) on an exercise mat.
- Keep your knees’ bent and feet flat on the floor.
- Maintain your shoulders and upper body firmly against the floor.
- Outstretch your arms and press them into the floor to help with balance during the movement.
- Engage/tighten the abdominal muscles.
- Slowly rotate the knees’ to one side with control, working within your range of motion. Your feet will shift but remain on the floor.
- Hold the position for 3–5 seconds.
- Engage/tighten the abdominal muscles to move your legs to the opposite side.
- Hold for another 3–5 seconds.
- Stay focused and breathe normally through the exercise.
- Repeat the exercise for a determined amount of reps, such as 10 times on each side.
Hot and cold packs
Some people find that heat (such as a hot bath or a hot water bottle placed on the affected area) helps to ease the pain when back pain first starts.
Cold (such as an ice pack or a bag of frozen vegetables) on the painful area can also help in the short term. However, do not put ice directly on your skin, as it might cause a cold burn. Wrap an ice pack or bag of frozen vegetables in a cloth or towel first.
Another option is to alternate between hot and cold using ice packs and a hot water bottle. Hot and cold compression packs can be bought at most pharmacies.
Relax and stay positive
Trying to relax is a crucial part of easing the pain as muscle tension caused by worrying about your condition may make things worse.