Lower back pain is a very common complaint, and it can strike anyone of any age. Pain in your lower back has a number of causes, including irritated nerves, strained muscles, damaged bones, ligaments, or joints, and degenerative or herniated discs. While medical attention is required in some cases of lower back pain, many other cases can be effectively treated with the right exercises.
Here are the best stretches and exercises for lower back pain, and they're free, easy, and can be done at home without any exercise equipment.
The piriformis muscle in your back runs from the back of the thigh bone, or femur, to the base of the spine, or sacrum. If this muscle is tight, you're going to have lower back pain, possibly accompanied by shooting leg pain similar to sciatica. Stretching this muscle can relieve the pain.
Lie on your back, and bend your knees. Cross the leg that's on the side of the back pain over the other leg, place your hands under the knee of the supporting leg, and gently pull it toward your chest until you feel a stretch in your buttock area. Hold the stretch for 30 seconds, and repeat several times a day or as needed.
Psoas Major Stretch
The psoas major muscle attaches to the front part of the lower spine and can make it painful to stand for extended periods or kneel on both of your knees. To stretch this muscle, kneel on one knee, and rotate your leg outward, tightening your buttock muscles on the rotating leg side. Hold for a few moments, then lean forward from the hip joint so that you feel the stretch in the front of the hip that you're kneeling on. Hold for 30 seconds. Do this exercise two or three times a day.
The hamstring muscles run from the back of your pelvic bone to the back of the knee, and when they're tight, they're a major cause of lower back pain. By stretching the hamstrings every day, you can keep them loose and prevent them from making your back ache.
Lie on your back, and grab your leg behind the knee. Flex your hip so that your leg is at a 90-degree angle to your body. Point your toes back toward you, and slowly straighten your knee until you feel the hamstrings stretch. Hold for 30 seconds, then repeat with the other leg. Do this once or twice a day.
Strengthen Your Core
Improving your core strength can dramatically improve your lower back pain and even prevent it from returning. Your core muscles include your abdominals, back muscles, and pelvic muscles. Full-body strength training twice a week will help improve your core strength. Abdominal crunches, bridges, single- and double-leg abdominal presses, planks, and side planks are some of the best exercises for strengthening your core. Alternatively, you can take a yoga class twice a week or more for excellent results.
If your lower back pain doesn't improve with stretches or strengthening exercises, it may be time to see your doctor, who can rule out serious problems and put you on an exercise regimen that addresses your specific causes of back pain.