If you suffer from lower back pain, the thought of doing any type of strenuous exercise can seem daunting, mostly out of fear of injuring yourself. You're not alone as a good majority of people (especially those who work at a desk 8-10 hours per day) are right there with you. So, what can you do? Here are three relatively easy, low-impact, high-return exercises you can do to strengthen your lower back.
If you feel pain doing the exercises below, shorten the range of motion or perform the moves more slowly.
Gently relieves tension in the lower back. When your pain is acute, use these easy moves to gently mobilize — increase the pain-free range of motion — in your back.
To Do This Exercise:
1. On a mat or blanket, kneel down, and if possible, sit on your heels.
2. Lean forward, extending your arms in front of you, and rest your head on the floor in front of you.
3. Hold the position for 30 seconds to two minutes.
If It Hurts:
Cross your arms on the floor and rest on your forearms.
Supports healthy hip movement, which takes pressure off the lower back during everyday activities.
To Do This Exercise:
1. Lie on your left side with your knees bent 90 degrees in front of you and your feet stacked.
2. Keeping your feet together and your hips vertical, lift your right knee as far away from your left as possible.
3. Hold for a moment, return to the starting position, and repeat for 15 reps.
4. Turn onto your right side and perform 15 reps.
If It Hurts:
Make sure your lower back doesn’t twist throughout the movement and limit the move to a pain-free range of motion.
Kneeling Hip Flexor Stretch
Restores proper positioning of the hips, taking tension off the lower back.
To Do This Exercise:
1. Kneel on a mat or pad and step your right foot flat on the floor in front of you.
2. Keeping your torso upright and your back in its natural arch, lunge forward towards your right foot.
3. Press the top of your left foot into the floor behind you.
4. Hold the stretched position for 30–45 seconds, then switch sides and repeat.
If It Hurts:
Contract your abs and flatten the lower back as much as possible throughout the stretch. Also, try shifting your hips back and coming out of the stretch a bit.
If you're out of practice when it comes to exercising or if you're recovering from an injury, your best bet is to get started with a low-impact routine. But, just because we call it low-impact does not mean it should be considered a low-result workout. Low-impact exercises help you burn calories and lose weight just as well as high-impact moves.
The following are a few favorite low-impact activities along with some ideas for getting the most out of your exercise.
Walking is by far the most popular low-impact exercise, and to get your heart rate up, there are some things you may want to try.
Walking the Stairs
Walking up stairs, whether they're real stairs or the revolving staircase at the gym, can be an incredibly intense workout and a great way to get your heart rate up. If you're a beginner, try adding a few minutes of stair climbing to your usual workout. You'll find you don't have to go very fast to get your heart rate up.
Hiking can be another robust, low-impact activity, especially if you're hiking on an incline. The changing terrain requires a lot of work from the lower body and walking up a mountain involves the large muscles of the glutes, hips, and thighs - precisely what you want for an intense cardio workout. Add a backpack, and you're burning even more calories.
Step aerobics can be a great alternative if you like choreographed exercise. Because you're stepping onto an elevated platform, you can typically get your heart rate up without doing any jumping. Using your arms can add more intensity to the workout as well.
You can also choose other activities that have no impact, but still offer high-intensity workouts like cycling, swimming, cross-country skiing, or rowing. Any of these activities can be intense if you work hard, but you may also want to cross-train with impact activities to keep your body challenged in different ways.
Winter can cause challenges when it comes to maintaining your fitness routine. Between the onslaught of rain, slip and fall hazards, and colder temperatures, your usual outdoor routines can be challenging at best. But if you don’t want to join a gym, there are multiple ways to still get a good workout in the comfort of your home. Here are a few easy-to-adapt exercises to keep you moving.
Even if it may not seem like much at the time, the cumulative benefit of daily movement can yield great returns for your body. Between reduced stress, increased flexibility, and overall health gains, your body will thank you. And, if you really want to treat your body, consider scheduling a massage. Massage is an excellent complement to any fitness routine as it helps work out tightness in the muscles that can hamper your movement. Schedule an appointment today with one of our fantastic therapists. 541-343-5633
Before we begin talking about exercises for your back, let's take a moment to remember what our spine and back muscles do. After all, they have an important job: supporting the rest of our body weight.
Our spines have more than 30 small bones (vertebrae) that are stacked together and separated with spongy cartilage that absorbs the pressure from our bodies movements day in and day out. Also, we have a series of muscles in our backs that enable us to stand upright and support the skeletal system so that we can move around. We need both to be in top condition to be who we are as active human beings.
With this in mind, here are a few exercises you can do to strengthen your back and help prevent future injuries.
While many people avoid deadlifts out of fear of getting hurt, they are in fact one of the very best exercises you can do to strengthen your back as hundreds of muscles are involved. When done properly, deadlifts are excellent at building lower back strength and helping to prevent injury.
Like the deadlift, weighted row exercises work out several muscles on your back, from top to bottom. There are a variety of styles, but each is useful for strength building.
Chin Ups and Pull Ups
While these also involve your biceps, chin ups and pull ups train every major muscle in your back. If your own bodyweight is just too much, a healthy alternative for your back is lat pulls. Lat pulls are a variation of doing a pull up, however you can adjust the weight to something you can safely handle.
Seated Cable Rows
This low-impact exercise targets the muscles in your upper back and can be done by anyone regardless of size or age.
Standing Push Downs
This exercise rounds everything out by working your lateral muscles.
Key to Success
The key to all of this, however, is progression. Do not jump into a heavy routine of lifting or you will injure yourself. Start slow and with light weights. Work your way up one set at a time and with gradual weight increases. Taking a slow approach will give you both better results and a more enjoyable experience.
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