Pain in the upper as well as lower back can be quite limiting and interfere with daily activities.
To help alleviate this pain, consider doing exercises to stretch and strengthen the muscles that support your thoracic spine.
Below, we explain how to do 5 simple exercises that can help relieve lower back pain:
Bridges work a person’s gluteus and hip muscles, helping stabilize your spine.
The gluteus maximus is one of the most important muscles in the body, and keeping it strong can help support the lower back and improve your posture.
To perform a bridge:
- Start on your back with your arms by your side, bend the knees, placing the feet flat on the floor hip-width apart.
- Tighten your abdominal and buttock muscles by pushing your low back into the ground, keeping the arms by the sides.
- Slowly raise your hips off the floor until the body forms a straight line from the shoulders to the knees.
- Squeeze the buttocks and pull your belly button back toward your spine with the shoulders remaining on the floor.
- Hold 5 – 10 seconds, and then lower the buttocks to the ground and rest for a few seconds.
- Repeat 10 times and then rest for 60 – 90 second.
- Do 3 sets of 10 repetitions.
The bird dog is a simple core exercise that improves stability, encourages a neutral spine, and reduce high pressure stress on your spine and discs.
- Begin on all fours in the tabletop position, keeping your hands directly below your shoulders and your knees under your hips.
- Raise your right arm and left leg, keeping your shoulders and hips parallel to the floor, you should form one straight line from your hand to your foot, keeping hips squared to the ground.
- Maintain a neutral spine by engaging your abdominal muscles, avoid swaying your hips in either direction and if your low back begins to sag, raise your leg only as high as you can while keeping your back straight.
- Hold this position for a few seconds, then slowly return to the starting position and repeat with the opposite arm and leg.
- Aim to complete 10 strong reps on each side, 20 reps for both side.
- While performing the exercise, keep the abs engaged while maintain smooth and even breathing throughout the entire exercise will help with your lower back strength and support.
The knee to chest stretch is used to stretch your hip and low back (lumbar spine) muscles can help elongate the lower back, relieving tension and pain.
It should also help alleviate pressure on spinal nerves by creating more space for those nerves as they exit the spine.
To perform the knee-to-chest stretch:
- Lie on the back on the floor, bend the knees, keeping both feet flat on the floor.
- Using both hands, grab hold of your right lower leg and interlace your fingers, or clasp your wrists just under the knee, pull your right knee up to your chest until you feel a slight stretch in your lower back.
- Hold your right knee against the chest for 10 – 20 seconds, keeping the abdominals tight and pressing the spine into the floor. Making sure to relax your legs, hips, and lower back.
- Release your right knee and return to the starting position.
- Repeat steps 2–4 with your opposite leg.
- Repeat 5 times for each leg twice a day.
Lower Back Rotational Stretches
The lower back rotational stretch can help relieve tension and increase the flexibility in your lower back, but must be done with care. It also gently works the core muscles to improve stability of your body.
To perform the lower back rotational stretch:
- Lie back on the floor with both knees bent and feet flat on the ground.
- Keeping the shoulders firmly on the floor, gently roll both bent knees over to one side, you will feel the stretching in your lower back and bottom.
- Hold this stretch for approximately for 5–10 seconds.
- Return to the starting position.
- Repeat steps 2–4 with your opposite leg
- Repeat 2–3 times on each side in the morning and night.
Lying Lateral Leg Lifts
Lying lateral leg lifts work the hip abductor muscles help to raise your leg to the side. They also help support your pelvis when you’re standing on one leg and can help reduce strain on the back.
When these muscles are weak, it can affect balance and mobility, so keeping these muscles strong is essential.
To perform lying lateral leg lifts:
- Lie on one side with the legs together, keeping your lower leg slightly bent on the ground.
- Drawing your belly button in toward your spine to engage the core muscles.
- Raise the top leg about 18 inches without moving the rest of your body, keeping it straight and extended.
- Hold the position for 2 seconds.
- Repeat 10 – 12 times.
- Turn onto the other side of the body and repeat steps 2–5 with the other leg.
- Perform 3 sets on each side in the morning and night.