Roughly 16 million American adults suffer from chronic lower back pain, with symptoms that take a toll on their lives every day. The lower back is involved in lots of activities, which is why even “mild” discomfort can have a major effect on a person’s well-being.
Lots of factors can cause or contribute to lower back pain, including excessive physical activity, poor healing following a traumatic injury, and spine conditions, such as arthritis, disc problems, or scoliosis. While some of these issues require surgery to correct, many people find that exercise helps relieve pain and improve their quality of life.
Exercise helps ease back pain by improving circulation, so damaged tissues receive oxygen and nutrients necessary for healing. Plus, many exercises strengthen the back and improve flexibility, allowing the back to move and function without stress and strain.
At Berkower Pain & Spine Rehabilitation in Pembroke Pines, Florida, David Berkower, DO, uses exercises and physical therapy to relieve chronic lower back pain without surgery, tailoring every treatment plan to each patient’s needs and goals. Here are five exercises that could help your back feel better.
1. Basic plank
You begin a plank by lying on your belly on the floor, with your hands by your head, palms down and forearms on the floor. Your feet should be flexed and resting on your toes. Keeping your back and legs straight, use your arms to lift your body off the floor.
Your body should be in a straight line with no sagging, and your neck and head should be relaxed. Hold the position for 10 seconds, working your way up to 30-60 seconds over the following days and weeks.
2. Plank with leg lift
This version of the basic plank begins the same way, but once your body is lifted into position, the goal is to raise one leg off the floor about 5-8 inches. Count to two, then lower your leg until your foot is once again resting on your toes. Repeat with the other leg. Aim for 10 reps, and try for 2-3 sets on each leg.
3. Side plank
In this plank variation, the goal is to balance your body at an angle, resting on the side of your foot and your forearm, with your elbow bent at your shoulder. Begin by lying on your side with your legs and spine completely straight.
Use your arm to lift your body straight off the floor while keeping your legs and torso in a straight line. Hold the position for 30-60 seconds, then relax. Aim for three reps, resting a minute between each rep.
4. The bridge
You get to lie down on your back for this one — a welcome change if you’ve just done a bunch of planks. Lying on your back, bend your knees so your feet rest flat on the floor and are spaced shoulder-width apart. Your arms should be at your sides, palms down.
Once you’re in position, tighten the muscles in your abdomen and buttocks, then lift your buttocks and hips off the floor, creating a straight line from your knees to your shoulders. Hold the position for a few seconds before slowly lowering your hips to the floor. Aim for three sets of 20 reps, resting a minute between each set.
5. The cobra
The cobra strengthens the extensor muscles in your spine — muscles that help you lift and stabilize your spine. Begin by lying on your belly with your arms by your sides, palms on the floor.
Tighten your buttocks and slowly curl your upper body up off the floor — like a cobra lifting its head. When you feel tension in your muscles, pause, then slowly lower yourself into starting position.
Aim for three sets of 15 reps, resting for 90 seconds between sets. (You can also do this exercise on a stability ball, linking your fingers behind your head.)
Start feeling better
Regular exercise can provide significant relief for painful lower back symptoms, but there is one caveat, and it’s a big one: If you’re having pain, you shouldn’t embark on any new exercise program without first consulting your doctor.
While exercise can help relieve some types of back pain, at other times, the stress and strain of physical exercise can make the underlying problem worse. Before you ramp-up your exercise routine, schedule an evaluation to determine the cause of your symptoms, so you can avoid more serious problems.
To find out what’s causing your lower back pain — and how you can relieve it — call 954-430-9972 or book an appointment online at Berkower Pain & Spine Rehabilitation today.