Exercises that help ease lower back pain
(Don’t want to read? Scroll down for a video with three exercises to do daily to help ease lower back pain !)
Do you have chronic lower back pain? Or have you recently had a baby and have lower back pain that you are having difficulty managing? If so, you aren’t alone. An estimated 37% of people have lower back pain complaints, and 50% of pregnant women complain of lower back pain. After giving birth, that back pain continues as the core region, especially the transverse abdominus, is weakened significantly. In addition, the hormone relaxin in still at play, causing increased mobility in the pelvic region (that’s not a good thing!).
So how can you ease your lower back pain? Several ways:
Engage the Transverse Abdominus
The transverse abdominus (TA) muscle runs horizontally across your abdomen, below your ribcage. It helps protect the lower back as when it is engaged, your lower back cannot over extend. Try it– pull in the TA muscle and then try to arch your lower back. You can’t, at least not without releasing the TA contraction.
Throughout your day, think about engaging your transverse abdominal muscle. Think it about it especially when you are squatting, bending over, picking up something (like a baby!), or rotating your torso. This action will prevent unnecessary (and possibly painful) back extension and rotation. Try this for a while, and tell me it doesn’t ease lower back pain! 🙂
Activate the glutes!
This means use your butt and not your lower back. Specifically, use your glutes when doing movements such as hip bridges, deadlifts, squats, etc. Think about this- your bent over, loading the dishwasher. How do you come back up to an upright position? You can squeeze your glutes and drive through them as you stand up safely, with the lower back protected, or you can flex (round) your lower back and unsafely round up.
Another example is when lifting something from the floor. If you don’t properly use your gluteus muscles you will end up rounding your lower back and using your back to lift. Lift from the legs! In order to lift from the legs, drive your heels down and squeeze through your glutes.
Release the muscles around the back
Foam rolling, myofascial release and massage will help release tight muscles around the back (such as the glutes and the adductors). If the glutes and/or adductors (that’s the inner thigh) are tight then the pelvis can be pulled out of alignment, especially if you’ve recently had a baby and still have the hormone relaxin in your system. I went to physical therapy for months for my back pain, and I had to have tons of release work done on my glutes, back and adductors. My pelvis was very often rotated out of alignment. Once I got better about foam rolling at home (and started doing the three exercises below on a daily basis) my pain decreased significantly and my pelvis became much more stable.
Take an epsom salt bath. Take a walk. Get a massage. Let go of stress. Stress affects our bodies in so many ways, and there is often a clear association with stress and back pain.
Without further ado, here is the workout video showing the three exercises to ease lower back pain. Do these daily! (I know the video quality is pretty bad…I’m currently shopping for a better camera but for now, this is it! Besides, how cute is Massimo?)
The first exercise is hip bridges.. my arms are pressed into the floor, and I squeeze my glutes on the way up and hold in my transverse abdominal muscle the entire time. I do 10 reps and hold for 5 seconds at the top of the move.
In the second exercise it is critical to engage the transverse abdominal muscle throughout the movement. This exercise is simple and looks easy but if done correctly you should feel it. 10 reps each side. Resist as you lower your l leg to feel the burn!
Exercise #3 is simply a plank…hold for 30 seconds. Work your way up to two 30 second holds, then progress to one 60 second hold.
What else have you found that really helps your back pain? Let me know in the comments below!