While anyone can suffer from lower back pain, men are more susceptible. Larger upper-body mass and an expanding belly put extra pressure on the lower back muscles and bones. Your lumbar spine, near your pelvis, carries all your upper weight. Fortunately, you can do back exercises today to ward off back pain tomorrow.
Hamstring exercises help you both prevent and relieve low back pain because of the way the muscles connect to your bones. Hamstring muscles run from the back of your thighs to your pelvis. If they’re tight, they’ll pull your pelvis down, which pushes your spine into an unnatural position that will eventually cause lower back pain.
Daily exercise may not automatically eliminate your back pain, however. Before beginning any new exercise regimen when you’re experiencing acute low back pain, see your doctor. The spine physicians at the Southeastern Spine Institute can diagnose your problem, which is the first step to a cure. Often, you can resolve your pain easily enough and without surgery.
As long as your back pain doesn’t stem from an accident or lifting injury, chances are that the following back exercises and stretches can help. Mild back pain may be caused by a pulled muscle or by poor posture. In these cases, exercise can relieve the pressure on your lower back, which reduces your pain.
Stretches and Back Exercises
All of these back exercises work to stretch your hamstrings. For the best results, do them daily.
- Prone Hamstring Stretch. Lie on your back on the floor on top of a yoga mat or carpet. Wrap a towel or strap around the bottom of one foot, grabbing each end in your hands. Keeping a good grip on the towel or strap, slowly raise your leg into the air. With your leg straight, aim for a 90-degree bend. Hold for a count of 10 and then stretch your other leg. Repeat five times on each side.
- Sitting Stretch. Sit in a straight-backed chair at a comfortable height. Straighten one leg so that it’s parallel to the floor. Stretch both arms toward the toes of that foot. Hold for a count of 10, and repeat with the other leg. This stretch puts less pressure on your back while still giving you a good stretch. Stretch five times with each leg.
- Straight-Leg Bend. While standing at attention, bend from the waist, keeping your legs straight. You don’t have to touch your toes; stretch down until you can feel the stretch in your hamstrings. Hold for a count of 20 and then straighten up slowly. You only need to do this stretch once.
In addition to stretches, you can do back exercises to loosen and strengthen your hamstrings:
- Walking Balance. Start by standing straight up. Take a step forward. As you lift your rear leg, bend forward at your waist about 90 degrees. Use your rear leg to help you balance. Hold for a count of 10, if possible. Straighten up. Take the next step and repeat on that side. Continue for half a minute.
- Walking Dead. Start the same way. Raise both arms in front of you, like a zombie might. Walk forward, but with each step, kick your leg as high as it will go toward your outstretched hands. Take 20 or 30 steps.
The physical therapists at the Southeastern Spine Institute can give you more exercises. Schedule an appointment today.