Lower back pain has become a huge problem nowadays. Sedentary lifestyle and lack of exercise are usually there to blame for the problem. Often, bad posture during sitting and standing contributes to the lower back pain as well. However, lower back pain is not a sentence since there are ways to fix it with a minimal amount of time and effort.
There are a number of exercises for lower back pain relief you can look into and do in the gym setting to strengthen your lower back. However, I would like to cover a short exercise program you can do at home in 20 or so minutes. My philosophy is I would rather prefer to see you do simple, fast and effective program you can stick with than give you a complicated program which you will not be able to follow.
One important aspect of back strengthening which is often overlooked is stretching. I am talking about lower back stretching as well as overall stretching of muscles interconnected to the lower back. Stretching will be included in this program as well.
So, I offer you a simple routine which consists of three strength training exercises and four stretches. You can do this program as a stand-alone routine or as an addition to your normal training regiment. I recommend doing this program every other day, especially if you are not doing any other type of strength training or stretching.
First, do strength training circuit and then do stretches. You do each strength training part of the program in 3 sets with 30 seconds to 1 minute of rest between all of them. For example, you hold your plank 3 times with one minute of rest between each hold, then you rest one minute and start doing the half bridge and so on. Aim for a 1-minute hold at each exercise, once you are there, aim for 2 or more minutes.
Once you are done with strength training part, you are going to do stretching part of the routine. Do each stretch once, holding it for 60 seconds.
Strength Training Variety
• The exercise is great for increasing the core stability and strengthen abs and back muscles.
Plank can be done on elbows or with your arms extended. Keep your back as straight and in-line with your legs as possible.
Another plank variation. Along with a regular plank, it helps build core muscles which support your back. It can be done either on the elbow or on the straight hand. Once you will become more trained, you can do both in one training session.
• A great way to strengthen the low back, buttocks, and thighs muscles while improving your core stability.
Bent your knees and keep your feet on the floor. Push your hips up toward the ceiling. When you lift half-bridge up make sure you squeeze your glutes.
• Practicing this exercise will help to strengthen the lower back muscles, tone your glutes and hamstrings.
Lift both legs and chest with arms together. If it is hard in the beginning, start with lifting just chest with arms first until you strengthen your lower back enough to lift both.
Quadruped Arm and Leg Raise
• This exercise strengthens the entire core.
Raise one arm and an opposite leg. The order doesn't matter as long as you do both sides. You can do right arm and left leg and then do left arm and right leg. Try to keep it as straight and in-line with your torso as possible. Hold it as described above.
Once you are done, you can grab your ankle and lift your leg up. It is more of a stretch, but you can throw it in the mix since you are in that position already. Works very well to stretch lower back and quads. Do it for both sides.
Stretching Training Variety
Seated Forward Bend
• This will provide a deep stretch for your neck, low back, and hamstrings.
Sit on the floor with your spine straight and one or both legs stretching out in front of you. Slowly fold forward toward your toes, while lengthening your spine. Stays in position from 30 seconds to three minutes. Repeat a few times.
Do each leg first, then do both legs. Aim to be able to hold to your feet. If you can’t reach it, hold on to your ankles or knees. Point your toes up or even towards you if you can, this will help you stretch your calves too.
• A good way to reduce stress to your spine by stretching abdominal and lower back muscles. Also, tones shoulders and chest.
Lie face down with your hand's palms on the floor. Keeping your hips on the floor, lift your chest off the floor. Hold the pose 15-30 seconds. Repeat three times.
You can go on elbows, extend your arms halfway or all the way up. If you are not flexible enough to go all the way, don’t push it. You will get there with practice.
• It is a very good stretch for your glutes and it helps release tightness off of these muscles so it will not pull on the lower back.
Put your ankle of the left leg on the quad of the right leg, hug your thigh of the right leg with both hands and pull it to you.
While you are doing it, use your left elbow to keep your left leg open and perpendicular to the right leg. Hold the stretch for 30 minutes or more. Do it for both sides.
Child’s Pose & Seashell Stretch
• This stretch targets the entire back, tomes muscles while reducing stress and tension to the lumbar region of the spinal column.
Seashell Stretch looks similar to Yoga Child’s Pose, but instead of resting, the upper body is engaged in the stretch.
Sit back on your heels. Keep your feet together. You can keep your knees together or spread them to the sides if it is more comfortable or if you want a deeper stretch. Bring your arms out in front of you. Stretch your hands as far forward as you can until you feel the stretch in the lower part of your back.
For Child’s Pose, rest your forehead on the floor and your chest on the knees and thighs. Stay in Child’s Pose from 30 seconds to three minutes.
For Seashell Stretch, instead of resting, arch your back and tighten your abdominal muscles. Hold Seashell Stretch for three sets of 30 seconds.
• A good stretch that targets the obliques muscles, mobilizes your entire spine from the neck to lower back.
Lie on the floor on your back with arms stretched out to your sides. Pull in your abdominal muscles and slowly bend both knees toward one arm. Hold for a count of 15, then return to the starting position.
Do both left and right side. Look in the opposite direction of your legs to get some extra stretching.