When lower back pain presents many want to retreat to the couch, bed and just lay down, but doctors, chiropractors, physical therapists, and spine specialists do not recommend this course of action. What they do recommend, other than treatment, is to engage in the easiest forms of exercise on the spine and back muscles.
Staying sedentary is one of the worst things an individual can do to their back. When the back is aching exercise can usually help. This is because the muscles, ligaments, tendons are being stretched and not just staying still, which lets inflammation build up and swell. Moving keeps the blood flowing, allowing for broader healing and recovery.
However, back pain relief can be a challenge. Various treatment options exist because there are a variety of causes. The key is figuring out which type is best for each individual and their specific condition. An individual needs to know the cause of their type of back pain, as this determines which exercises should or should not be doing. The Pain and Therapy journal evaluated some of the best exercises for lower back pain.
Physical Therapy Exercises
The McKenzie method can be very effective for acute disc herniation pain and sciatica. This type of exercise is to figure out if there is a specific position that helps the pain become centralized, correct any motion restrictions, and take the pressure off the region that is compressed or inflamed. Physical therapists incorporate McKenzie exercises as part of regular treatment. The strength-building moves are designed to help support the spine and consist of range-of-movement work and sustained positions.
Home and Studio Workouts
Pilates is one of the easiest exercises for individuals with chronic low-back pain. Like McKenzie exercises, it utilizes sustained positions that strengthen the trunk/core muscles. The muscles are strengthened using small movements. Using the machine called a reformer, has built-in support for the spine. This is considered a low-key, muscle-toning workout that can ease chronic back pain.
Water exercises lessen the body’s weight, taking pressure/stress off the spine. Deep-water running with the water at shoulder-height can significantly improve low-back pain. In a study, a group of overweight/obese women worked out twice a week for an hour-long exercise session. After 12 weeks, improvements in pain intensity, personal care, sitting, standing, and sleeping were reported.
Easiest Office Exercise
One of the easiest exercises is walking. It is great for the body. But the key is to walk more than usual around the office, or wherever work is. This is not about getting the heart rate up. It is about not staying in the same position for too long. When sitting and focused, an individual can stay in an uncomfortable position for some time and just push through it in an attempt to finish up the work.
Using a timer or an application that alerts every hour to get up and stretch is highly beneficial. Walk correctly to the bathroom, or just get up and walk around for a bit gets the blood pumping through the body and the muscles in motion stretching and contracting.
Strengthening workouts can be done at home.
- Stretch while standing against the wall bringing the arms up and down.
- Pull the elbows down into the back, which stops the hyperactive trapezius from tensing up.
- Knee to the chest motion while lying on the back
- Abdominal crunches while balance on an exercise ball
- Push the head back into the headrest while driving. This helps avoid the forward head posture.
Contact a doctor, chiropractor, or physical therapist that can recommend the best stabilization exercises for the specific pain/condition.
Tai Chi and Qigong
Tai Chi and Qigong are gentle exercises where an individual performs slow, controlled movements emphasizing balance and focus. Both can reduce pain, disability, and other symptoms associated with lower back pain.
Body Composition Testimonial
Exercise After Childbirth
Physical activity for pregnant and post-birth, the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends the following. The easiest exercise routines can be resumed gradually after pregnancy, once a doctor confirms it is medically safe, depending on the delivery, and the presence or absence of medical complications.
- Pelvic floor exercises could be initiated in the immediate postpartum period.
- Regular aerobic exercise in lactating women has been shown to improve cardiovascular fitness without affecting milk production, composition, or infant growth.
- Nursing women should consider feeding their infants before exercising in order to avoid exercise discomfort.
- Nursing women also should ensure proper hydration before engaging in physical activity.
- Take it slow.
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Pain and Therapy. (2020) “Rehabilitation for Low Back Pain: A Narrative Review for Managing Pain and Improving Function in Acute and Chronic Conditions.” https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s40122-020-00149-5
Spine. (2016) “Pilates for Low Back Pain: Complete Republication of a Cochrane Review.” https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26679894/