You wake up ready for another day with pain in your lower back again. Luckily, your back pain does not have to keep you limited in your daily activities, because adding back exercises and stretches to your weekly routine can assist with reducing your back pain.
Ouch My Back
In the United States, roughly 3 to 4 million people are affected by back pain each year. The causes of back pain, specifically lower-back pain, vary for each individual and can develop due to sports injuries, with roughly 30 percent of all athletes experiencing lower-back pain at some point in their careers. Many of these injuries come from overuse, hyperextension or weakness in the lower extremities. Just as there are a variety of reasons for back pain, there are also a variety of ways to improve or diminish the pain.
Warm It Up
Before you begin your program, be sure to warm up your body. Your warm-up should be at least five minutes in length and include low-intensity cardiovascular activities, such as walking or light jogging. Once you've warmed your body up, add some static stretches to your program. The American College of Sports Medicine recommends holding static stretches for at least 30 seconds and performing four repetitions. These static stretches target your back muscles as well as your joints.
Slow and Steady
One stretch to start your program with is the cradle stretch. Lie on your back, bend your knees and bring them slowly into your chest. This stretch efficiently stretches your hamstrings, lower back and buttocks. The cobra stretch is another movement that targets your lower back. Lie on your stomach, place your arms at your side and slowly raise yourself up as high as you can go. Be sure to keep your hips on the mat using your back to do the work. The last stretch -- the superman -- requires you to lie on the mat on your stomach and then slowly raise both your upper and lower body with your arms straight out. If this stretch is new to you, leave your feet on the floor until you are comfortable with the movement. Once you’re ready to move on, lift your feet and upper body at the same time.
All About the Core
Your core is made up of your hips and pelvis and the lumbar region of your lower back. When you think of your core, imagine a girdle that not only protects your lower extremities it also supports as well. Strengthening your core may assist in decreasing your lower-back pain. The plank is a core exercise that not only strengthens your core, it also works on your stability and balance as well. To add intensity to this move, perform your plank on a stability with your arms on the stability ball. Another core exercise is the stability ball roll out, for this movement kneel down with your elbows on the ball. Slowly roll the ball away from you, then bring it back.
Building a Stronger Back
Strengthening your lower back does not have to include machines or heavy weights. Resistance bands are effective tools when you want to gain strength but are not able to lift heavy weights. Bent-over rows with resistance bands are an effective exercise to strengthen your lower back, trapezius and biceps. Start by standing on the band. Then bend slightly forward while grabbing the handles of the band. Cross the bands in front of you as you bring your elbows up to shoulder level. Bring your arms back to your starting position until you completed your repetitions. If you have access to a stability ball, use the ball and band to perform flyes. Lie on your stomach on the ball and grab the band with both hands. Then pull the band as you bring your elbows back. Return to your starting position repeating the movement, focus should be on bringing your shoulder blades together as you pull the band.
If at any time during your workout, you begin to feel pain or discomfort, stop exercising. See your physician before you begin a new program, especially if your back pain is severe. Allow yourself to take breaks when you need to. For the stretches, the ACSM recommends stretching at least two to three times a week, however daily stretching is highly recommended. For strength training, the ACSM recommends that beginners start with one to three sets of eight to 12 repetitions, preferably two to three times a week.