Understanding Exercises for Lower Back Pain Relief

Jessica Lewis
May 15, 2016

Lower Back Pain is part of the most common health problems we face today. For example, about 31 million Americans have such problems that occur if you are either too sedentary or too active. In this article, we will present a few exercises for lower back pain that can relieve the pain and even help you recover.

What Causes Lower Back Pain?

  • Weak buttocks muscles – if you do not use them for a long time, the functionality buttocks muscles decreases.
  • Weak muscles in the abdominal area – when you sit down for a longer period, abdominal muscles become weak and lose their functionality.
  • Contracted hip flexors – the muscles are on the front of the hips, just below the pelvis, are contracted. The hip flexors, the muscles that are above the thighs, are attached to the vertebrae. When the hip flexors become very contracted they are pulling the lumbar vertebrae, and this causes chronic pain for many people.

In addition, when the abdominal muscles are too weak, the back muscles must compensate to help us in light activities such as raising certain objects off the ground or bend. Thus, we use only the back muscles without using the abdomen. When using too much of the lumbar muscles, they become tense and sore.

Buttocks muscles are also meant to help the back muscles, like abdominal muscles. When the abdomen and buttocks muscles are weak and are not working, back muscles have to take over the activity of these two muscles. Thus, it’s no wonder why so many people suffer from chronic back pain.

Lower back pain is a very common condition, which already does not take age into account. Whether you sit all day at work in a wrong position or because you’ve forced your muscles through exercise or simply, you’re burdened by shopping bags you can feel how unpleasant is the back pain and how it may hinder your daily activities. What can you do?

Some simple exercises might hold the answer to relieving the pain, for faster recovery in the future, to prevent other traumas and to strengthen the back muscles.

If you rely on inappropriate exercises for lower back pain, it can have serious consequences on your back, a very sensitive area that should not be stressed.

The two types of lower back pain

Not all low back pain sensations are the same. If you were to compare the symptoms of many sufferers, you definitely will find many variations but basically, all they are based on one of these two fundamental characteristics: flexion intolerance or extension intolerance.

In other words, pain is caused either by spinal flexion (bending towards the front – similar motion used to do crunches) or extension of the back.

Usually, extension intolerance is common among athletes, while intolerance to flexion is more common among people who work in the office or among riders and it is much more frequent.

The area of inflammation of the intervertebral disc can be caused by the prevailing inclination of the spine. For example, an inflammation in the left posterior zone is caused by a flexion with a small tilt to the right. That is why sciatica (irritation of the sciatic nerve) is caused by the flex of the lumbar spine. This then leads to inflammation or herniation (breaking)of the intervertebral disc and pressing it on one of the nerves that make up the sciatic nerve.

In other words, if you suffer from sciatica, the position to which you are intolerant and you should absolutely avoid, no matter how comfortable it seems at the time, is flexed (bending forwards). If the pain is on the left leg flexion inclined to the right is the most dangerous, and if the pain is felt on the right foot flexion inclined to the left is the most harmful.

The first step in eliminating any back pain is eliminating the cause of pain. In other words, eliminating the erroneous position and movement patterns. It sounds very simple and logical, but how many of us actually do it? How do we know which pattern is correct?

For example, what do you think happens if a person follows the advice of generic flexion intolerance from a neighbor that heard about it or read about it on some websites and doing mundane exercises such as raising knees to chest or the next Yoga position (position of the baby)?

Yoga – the baby’s position, will get you a break from the pain and you will feel better by stretching the erector spinal muscles that are tense as a protective mechanism. But this approach ensures more pain and stiffness the next day because the underlying tissues suffer more stress.

The correct solution is the elimination of the first moves that put your spine in flexion, especially in the morning when discs are hydrated and plump as a result of rest in bed.

Studies show that intervertebral discs have only a certain number of flexes available. Therefore, even if at the moment there is (still) no pain, it would be wise to keep this number for helpful tasks such as bending to tie your shoelaces rather than doing hundreds of crunches in hope for weight loss.

Another approach is to do a little morning exercise and take a few steps outside and not just hit the chair both in the office or while traveling.

You cannot neglect nutrition if you want to get rid of pain quickly and feel well on the way. Nutrition is the raw material for building cells and provides the necessary substances needed in the chemical reactions that trigger contraction and relaxation of the muscles as well as controlling inflammation and supporting the immune system.

Once you identify the type and cause of the pain and you started to stay away from the movements that brought you the pain in your daily routine, it’s time to start recovering and making maintainable progress that allows you to stop worrying about back pain in the future.

Since many people get stuck right at the beginning of this phase, they get to suffer more than they should and can never escape the pain … but if you care to act on the following five fundamental issues you will not have to suffer in vain. As soon you use these tips and concepts sooner, the faster you will get rid of the lower back pain.

Five fundamentals of eliminating lower back problems

  1. Correct movement patterns

    Inefficient movement patterns and methods have been documented as the leading cause of pain and spinal conditions. Most sufferers do more moves using the lower back rather than the hips. And even though many of them have a strong back, these muscles endurance is low. Probably the most common error pattern of movement, which seems to be both a cause and a consequence of back pain is called “gluteal amnesia” (McGill, 2007). In other words, forgetting to use your rear muscles to generate power at the hip and using the lower back muscles for the realization of movement may be the main reason why you suffer from lower back pain. And if you have to go deeper and investigate the cause of this “blackout” of the muscles you reach the bottom at incorrect postures and predominantly sedentary lifestyle without the benefit of sports.

  2. The ability to work

    Everyone has a certain level of tolerance which, when it is exceeded, will cause pain and tissue disease. Capacity in this context is the total work or effort that can be executed before coming to grief. For example, some people suffering from sciatic pain cannot walk more than 20 meters before experiencing pain so needs to gradually increase work capacity and the level of tolerance to different movements. If you find yourself in the above situation, the initial solution is to go to a correct posture in three short sessions every day without ever exceeding the tolerance level. When your tolerance will increase (which happens inevitably), you can reduce the number of sessions in one day, then 3 per week, gradually progressing to more challenging movements and exercises.

  3. Stability

    Many therapeutic approaches aim at increasing lumbar spine mobility. Unfortunately, this can be very problematic given the fact that people who have more movement in this region have more problems with the spine. Analyzing the mechanics of our back we understand that this area was created for the motion: to transmit power generated in the legs and hips to the chest, and to oppose movements. Thus, the correct solution is the harmonious development of core muscles through exercises that do not involve flexion, extension or rotation of the lumbar spine but condone resistance to these moves. An important thing to know is that the stability of the spine does not have anything to do with keeping balance. In fact, sitting or balancing on a ball or other unstable inflatable objects can do more harm than good in the beginning.

  4. Mobility

    As I said, the lumbar (lower back) region needs stability – the lack of exercise. Clearly and proven by numerous tests of the mechanics of motion, mobility must be in the adjacent areas to facilitate movement of the entire body. In fact, throughout the entire body, predominantly stable joints alternate with predominantly mobile joints. Thus, thoracic spine and should have their normal and natural mobility. Unfortunately, they are lost gradually and slowly by bending over the desk and by the lack of variate movements, or even due to excessive development of the chest and shoulders, higher than the average of back development. Of course, all exercises that develop these qualities must be made keeping the lower column in the most fixed position possible.

  5. Force

    Without the ability to repeatedly achieve the correct movement patterns (responsible for activating really strong muscle moves, stabilization and achieving lumbar back movement from the hips and thoracic spine), force is not really valuable. But when those have been developed, muscular strength cements the results and make sure that you will not suffer in the future. Therefore, if you want to get rid of pain, to feel and to move again as good and easy as in your youth, you need to train your power wisely.

Exercises for prevention of lower back pain

Lower Back Pain stops you from being more active? Find out what exercises for lower back pain help to improve the symptoms that you have. Lower back pain is very common among adults and is caused mainly by muscle strain or injury and the reasons we discussed at the beginning of this article. While untreated, it will affect your daily activities for a long time and end in putting you to bed. The most common cause of back pain is the muscle spasm. They can occur as a result of bending or twisting force or if you lift a heavy object with an incorrect position. They also occur in accidents where the back is damaged.

The best way to prevent back pain is the regular exercise for this area of the body. It is recommended to use strengthening and stretching movements at least 2-3 times a week.

Training back muscles for 15 minutes has the following benefits

  • – Strengthens the muscles of the back, neck and shoulders, reducing the risk of injuries;
  • – Increases flexibility and strength back;
  • – Relaxes the back, reducing pain.

Before beginning physical training, seek expert advice, especially if you have had an accident or if you have a medical history where lower back pains are common.

Exercises to prevent and reduce lower back pain include

  • – Aerobic exercise, that maintain heart and muscle health and speeds healing. These include walking, running, swimming and cycling.
  • – Exercises to strengthen back muscles, abdomen, and legs;
  • – Stretching exercises to keep muscles flexible and less prone to injury.

Let’s see, then, a few simple exercises for lower back pain that can be done at home and will relieve the discomfort associated with back pain.

  • McKenzie Method exercises to strengthen the spine

Some of the most popular exercises to strengthen the spine are present in the McKenzie method. They took the name from the New-Zealander therapist which found that extending the spine through exercise can reduce pain generated by a compromised disc. Theoretically, these moves can be made either vertically or horizontally, help relieve the pain of herniated disc while reducing pressure on the nerve.

For the method to be effective, patients should avoid bending forward, because it affects the movement of consolidation. McKenzie exercises are useful for people who have pain due to degenerative disc disease. This approach helps to centralize pain, removing it from the extremities (hands or feet) and directing it towards the back.

Lower back pain is usually better tolerated than the limb pain. A core principle of McKenzie method argues that self-treatment and self-healing are very important in relieving pain and in rehabilitation. Here are some exercises promoted by Robin McKenzie in the ’60s:

Another form of McKenzie method (a passive form of spinal manipulation) is the one that follows. Flexion of the lumbar spine is achieved by raising the knees to the chest with both hands and helping their slow descent, which runs from the supine position.

It is an exercise as simple as it is effective!

  • Williams flexion exercises – From supine position the trunk rises on the basin, with knees bent, feet and hands touching by bending the trunk. Another option would be that with the lifting of the torso, hands between his legs to be stretched.
  • Basin moves – Another Williams exercise. Lying flat on your back with your arms by your trunk and knees bent, lift the basin off the ground and hold the position for a few seconds. Repeat.
  • Variant on the same theme. From a lying position, try a semi-flexion of the trunk on your basin, arms crossed his chest and knees bent. During this exercise, your feet should be securely on the ground.
  • Another Williams technique Another type of exercise that belongs to this technique is the following: from the kneeling position, trunk leans forward, the arms stretched in front until the but reaches the heels.
  • Squats and lunges. Stand, bend your torso forward with the hands outstretched, while executing a squat. From squatting, stretching one foot back, (the other knee bent) with support in arms.
  • Flexion of the spine. Sit upright in a chair with your back straight, feet slightly apart. The torso and arms are leaning forward between your legs until palms touch the floor.
  • Stand with your back against a wall, feet slightly apart and bending your knees, lean on the wall until your knees are bent at 45 °. Stay in this position five seconds, then return slowly to your starting position. Keep your back straight throughout the exercise and repeat the movement 10 times in the morning and evening.
  • Lie on your stomach and lift one leg straight 50-60 cm from the ground, stay in this position 10 seconds, then return to starting position and repeat with the other foot; the same exercise can be done on your back and stretching and lifting the foot at the same height in front of you.
  • Lying on your back with knees bent, feet flat on the floor and arms at your sides, raise your hips without arching your back, so to form a straight line from shoulders to knees. Hold for 5 seconds, then return to starting position and repeat the movement.
  • Sit on your hands and knees on the floor, your back straight and stretch one leg in the back as straight as you can. Hold for 5 seconds, then pull the leg to the starting position and repeat with the other leg.
  • Sit on your back and bend your knees, squeezing the arms as close to your chest as you can. Stay in this position 5 seconds, then repeat the whole movement.
  • Sit on your back and bend your knees. Put your left ankle over your right knee and pull your right knee toward your chest with your palms until you feel a little pressure on the back; stay like that for 20 seconds, then return to the starting position and repeat 5 times on each leg.
  • Standing on your back with your knees bent, lift your left foot straight in the air and put your hands behind the knee, keeping it straight. Hold for 20 seconds, then repeat the exercise 5 times for each leg.

To avoid back pain in the future, be sure to maintain an upright posture and get up from your desk every 30 minutes to make a few steps across the room or do several activities standing, whether it’s talking on the phone or anything else. Also, you should keep in mind that stretching exercises, even 5 minutes a day, are particularly effective against back pain.

Weight lifting should be done by flexing the knees and hips, not bending the trunk forward. At the office, sit with your back resting on the backseat, knees bent at right angles.

Before starting any exercise program, do not forget to consult your doctor; depending on the pain that you feel, you choose together the best type of workout and most effective method. Also, stay active and always give attention to your posture.

[highlight color=”yellow”]Always consult your physician before beginning any exercise program. This general information is not intended to diagnose any medical condition or to replace your healthcare professional