The Best Exercises for Lower Back Pain

When lower back pain strikes it can be horrible. If you suddenly get back pain, one important thing to realise is that the amount of pain you’re in is not an indication that there’s necessarily anything seriously wrong. The problem is that your back is really important to you, and…

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The best exercises for lower back pain

When lower back pain strikes it can be horrible. If you suddenly get back pain, one important thing to realise is that the amount of pain you’re in is not an indication that there’s necessarily anything seriously wrong. The problem is that your back is really important to you, and so any, even mild injury, can cause huge amounts of pain as the body’s protection mechanism is significant.

Severe and sudden back pain is horrible, so here are some things you can do to alleviate the pain, followed by best exercises:

Heat

A lot of the pain of back pain comes from muscle spasm as the body tries to protect you. Putting heat on muscle spasm can help it relax and reduce pain.

Fowler’s position

This is the position in which the back has the least pressure going through it. Lie on your back on the floor, with your feet on the sofa (or lie on the bed with your feet on some pillows) so your hips and knees are at 90 degrees. Basically, you’re in a sitting position but lying down. This is a great position to rest in.

Take appropriate painkillers

Lots of people don’t like taking painkillers. Whilst we don’t advocate endless painkiller use, using them when your back pain is really bad is useful as it allows you to keep moving more than you could otherwise, and that helps things start to improve.

Keep moving

The worst thing you can do is not move. Then everything seizes up and when you come to move, it feels even worse. So, we recommend active rest. That is avoiding strenuous activity, but continuing to potter around. You can mix walking around the house, gentle exercises and Fowler’s position as a nice mix to keep things moving until things start to ease, whilst also giving your back a rest.

The best exercises for lower back pain

The best exercise for you will depend on exactly what the problem is, so getting assessed by a Physio is always a good idea. However, broadly speaking back pain tends to fit into one of two categories and each have exercises that work best for them.

Does it hurt more to bend forwards or to bend backwards?

This broadly indicates what is likely to be causing your back pain and so indicates which type of exercise to do. Though again we would stress you should get assessed fully, these exercises are a good place to start.

It hurts more to bend forwards than backwards:

McKenzie extensions:

Starting position: Lie on your stomach with your hands positioned beside your shoulders.
Action: Push up through your hands to take your lower back into extension to a point you get discomfort, while keeping your chest forwards and your hips maintaining contact with the ground. Hold for a moment at the top and return to the starting position. Only go to a point that is moderately uncomfortable. Don’t force it. Do 10 of them, once per hour if you can. Yep we know that’s a lot!

If it hurts more to bend backwards than forwards:

Lumbar rocking:

Starting position: Lie on your back with your knees bent up and feet on the floor.
Action: Rock your knees from side to side. Only go to a point that is mildly uncomfortable, and then go over to the other side. Aim to do this for a minute, 3 to 4 times per day. Please note, there is no benefit to forcing your knees over to one side. It’s about repetition. You’ll make more progress by not forcing it but by doing more of them.


So there you have our two favourite back exercises, along with various other things you can do when your back is hurting.

Back pain is the most common thing we see in our clinics. It is horribly painful but it does normally get better. The sooner you start doing the right things the better, so give the above bits a go.

But, if it’s not settling within a few days, then we are here to help with an assessment to understand exactly what’s wrong, and how best to get it settled down. Get in touch with your nearest Physiotherapy clinic to talk about how we can help.

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