5 Proven Exercises to Alleviate Low Back Pain and Improve Function
Low back pain is a common condition that affects many people. It can be caused by a variety of factors, including poor posture, muscle strain, and injury. Regular exercise is one of the most effective ways to manage low back pain and reduce the risk of further injury. Here are 5 exercises that can help alleviate low back pain and improve overall function:
1. The McKenzie Extension: This exercise strengthens the muscles in the lower back and helps to improve flexibility in the spine. To perform this exercise, begin by lying on your stomach with your hands behind your head. Slowly raise your head and shoulders off the floor, hold for a few seconds, then lower back down. Repeat for several repetitions.
2. The Pelvic Tilt: This exercise strengthens the abdominal muscles and helps to improve the alignment of the spine. To perform this exercise, begin by lying on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Tighten your abdominal muscles and tilt your pelvis towards your ribcage. Hold for a few seconds, then relax. Repeat for several repetitions.
3. The Cat-Cow Stretch: This exercise improves flexibility in the spine and helps to reduce tension in the back muscles. To perform this exercise, begin on your hands and knees with your wrists under your shoulders and your knees under your hips. Slowly round your back towards the ceiling while exhaling, hold for a few seconds, then arch your back towards the floor while inhaling. Repeat for several repetitions.
4. The Plank: This exercise strengthens the core muscles and helps to improve stability in the lower back. To perform this exercise, begin by lying on your stomach with your elbows under your shoulders and your forearms on the floor. Push up onto your toes and hold your body in a straight line for several seconds. Repeat for several repetitions.
5. The Bird Dog: This exercise helps to strengthen the core and lower back muscles while improving balance and stability. To perform this exercise, begin on your hands and knees with your wrists under your shoulders and your knees under your hips. Slowly raise one arm and the opposite leg, hold for a few seconds, then lower back down. Repeat for several repetitions on each side.
It's important to note that these exercises are general recommendations and it's always best to consult with a healthcare professional before starting any new exercise program. A healthcare professional can help you determine the cause of your low back pain and develop an exercise program that is tailored to your specific needs.
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- The management of low back pain. National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) guideline [CG88]. Published: May 2009.
- Global Recommendations on Physical Activity for Health. World Health Organization. Geneva, Switzerland, 2010.
- O'Sullivan P, Côté P, Cassidy JD, et al. Classifications of low back-related leg pain—A Delphi study. European Spine Journal. 2018; 27(7): 1875-1887.
- European guidelines for the management of chronic nonspecific low back pain. European Back Pain Research and Education Platform. 2021
- Maher CG, Underwood M, Buchbinder R. Non-specific low back pain. Lancet. 2018; 392(10155): 2368-2383.
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