Low back exercises are among a physician’s most recommended exercises. Lower back exercises are beneficial both as a preventative of lower back pain and as a treatment for lower back pain.
Low Back Exercises for a Healthy Back
Low back exercises are vital for strengthening the muscles that support the spinal column. Without that strength, the body is much more subject to injury from sports and other physical activities. Low back exercises strengthen muscles that might be strained with lifting or moving heavy objects. They are important to pregnant women, who find that pregnancy makes extra demands on back muscles. Strengthening the abdominal muscles in front is often touted on TV commercials. Strengthening back muscles through low back exercises is more important for a healthy spine to support those “abs of steel”.
Low Back Exercises as Back Therapy
Low back exercises are essential to good back therapy, too. If you are suffering acute back pain, your physician may want you to avoid low back exercise until the pain subsides. Eventually, however, he or she will likely advise exercise for spinal health. It is important to ask what type of low back exercise is recommended for your particular back pain. You should also ask for clear directions to be sure you are doing the exercises properly. A physical therapist can help you develop the techniques needed to realize maximum benefit from your low back exercise.
Types of Low Back Exercises
Different types of low back exercise give different results. Your doctor will probably recommend the following.
Stretching: These low back exercises are designed to improve the muscle and soft tissue extension. They stretch out your muscles as you would gently pull a piece of elastic. They make them able to move more easily. Stretching can reduce stiffness and increase range of motion. In this category, you might be asked to lie on your back and raise each leg to your chest. You might be taught to do bridges and hamstring stretches.
Extension: Extensions are low back exercises that involve bending backward. They open up the spinal canal in planes. They develop specific muscles that support the spine. Your doctor may recommend extensions to reduce radicular pain, i.e., pain that radiates out to other parts of the body. This category of low back exercises includes movements such as leg lifts and raising your trunk from the floor.
Flexion: Exercises that call for you to bend forward, widening the spaces between vertebrae, are called flexion exercises. If you have pressure on nerves, your physician may recommend these low back exercises. They stretch and strengthen muscles of the back, abdomen, hips, and legs.
Aerobic: Most people recognize this term. Aerobic exercise elevates the heart rate for a period of time. It may involve walking or running on a treadmill. It may be done on a bike or other exercise machine. You may do aerobics for 30 minutes at a time or, if your fitness level or other health does not permit that, you may try three 10-minute periods of low back exercise.
Cautions Regarding Low Back Exercises
With every low back exercise, it is important to seek advice from your physician. You do not want complications because you injured a disc. You want to do the best exercise for your condition.
When choosing aerobic low back exercises, avoid exercise that requires twisting or vigorous bending, such as aerobic dance or rowing. Contact sports such as football, soccer, hockey, and rugby should also be avoided – especially if you have disc disease or injury.
Elsewhere on this website, we offer specific instructions for a variety of low back exercises and other back exercises. Most of these require no special equipment. Most are free and can be done at home.