Do you suffer from lower back pain?  These stretches can help

Back pain is extremely common, affecting more than 80% of Americans. While not everyone has the same condition, research shows that exercise can usually help reduce lower back pain in most people.

“Most patients who come to me with low back pain have endured intermittent pain for some time. Many of them aren’t as active as they used to be and have lost strength and flexibility over time, limiting their mobility and causing more pain,” says Shelly Walker, PT, OCS, a physical therapist who has been a physical therapist for more than 35 years with Nebraska Medicine.

Benefits of Exercise for Back Pain Relief

When you’re in pain, it’s easy to lie down or stay stationary. However, staying in one position for too long—even a good one—is not good for your body. Your muscles need to contract, relax, and stretch to allow you to bend and reach. Your joints are nourished by movement and your nerves need room to slip and slide with movement.
In addition, sitting for long periods of time can put more stress on your hips and lower back, leading to increased back pain. Exercise and stretching help moderate muscle imbalances while maintaining the range of motion and strength needed for a healthy back.

Consider the following steps to incorporate more exercise into your daily routine:

  • Stand up – Get off the couch or your desk chair and walk around every 30 minutes
  • Incorporate full body movements – Take normal steps and swing your arms as you walk to engage your whole body
  • Move at your own pace – More isn’t always better, so don’t push it to the point where it takes you two hours to recover

Stretching exercises to relieve back pain

In addition to hamstring and hip opening stretches, the following mobility exercises can help reduce back pain.

Cat and cow stretch

Lumbar rotation stretch sideways

Seated lumbar stretch

Extension of the lumbar spine while standing

Sliding stretch of the sciatic nerve in the supine position

You should be able to recover from your exercises in about 30 minutes. Use ice afterwards if necessary.

“Most of the patients I see for back pain have increased pain when standing and walking. They have muscle imbalances that contribute to more curvature in the lower back, which leads to spinal stress. Stretches that increase lumbar flexion, such as cow, help reduce spinal stress and stretch muscles in the lower back, which are generally overactive and contribute to back pain,” says Amy Collison, physical therapist at Nebraska Medicine, PT. DPT, OCS.

Of course, everyone is different, and what works for one may not work for the next. In general, you should see an improvement after two to four weeks. If your pain doesn’t get better, it’s important to get medical help right away. If you have increasing weakness in your legs and feet, bowel or bladder dysfunction, or persistent pain that worsens at night, you should see a specialist to prevent permanent damage or loss of function. For more information or to find a provider that is right for you, contact the Nebraska Medicine Comprehensive Spine Center.

Do you suffer from neck or back pain?
Make an appointment at 800,922,0000.

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