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Exercise Can Help You with Lower Back Pain

By Debra Rodzinak

Even though your back may hurt and you feel like lying around, fight the urge and get up and exercise.  Moving is actually better for your back than endless days of rest.  Exercise can strengthen the back, stomach, and leg muscles.  When your back muscles are strong, back pain is relieved.  As with any exercise regimen, consult your doctor before beginning any new exercises.  Here are some exercises to try to avoid if you are suffering with back pain.

Exercises to Avoid

  • Toe Touches – While stretching is good for the body, toe touches may put undue stress on the lower back and hamstring muscles and aggravate the pain. 
  • Sit-ups – These exercises are good to strengthen the core muscles, but many people use the hips when performing this exercise, which puts unnecessary pressure on the spinal discs.
  • Leg Lifts – Another core strengthening exercise, leg lifts can be very demanding on the abdominal muscles and if these muscles are weak, back pain can be made worse by lifting both legs at once.  Lifting one leg at a time is much easier on the back.

Exercises to Try

  • Partial Crunches – These exercises still engage the abdominal muscles, but not coming all the way up protects the hips and back. 
  • Hamstring Stretches – Instead of toe touches, lie on your back and loop a band or towel under the ball of one foot.  Straighten the leg and slowly pull the leg toward your head.  Don’t overstretch, but feel a gentle stretch and hold for 30 seconds. 
  • Wall Sits – Stand about a foot from the wall and lean back until your back is flush with the wall.  Slowly slide down until your legs are at a 90-degree angle with the floor.  Hold this position for 10 seconds.  Repeat this 10 times.
  • Press-up Back Extensions – Lie on the floor and slowly lift the upper half of your body.  Place your elbows on the floor directly under your shoulders and hold this position for several seconds.
  • Bird Dog – Get down on all fours, like a dog, and tighten the stomach muscles.  Lift one leg so it is parallel to the ground and do the same with the opposite arm.  Hold this position for 5 seconds and then switch positions.  Repeat this 10 times for each leg.  Don’t overextend the leg, but try to stretch it out to a position that is challenging without being painful.
  • Knee to Chest – While lying on your back, bend the knees and place the feet flat on the floor.  Bring one knee to your chest and hold for 30 seconds.  Switch legs and repeat.

If these exercises are done on a regular basis, your back muscles will begin to become stronger and back pain will subside.  Consult your doctor before beginning any new exercise program.

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