The statistics about lower back pain in the United States – something to the effect of more than 80% of Americans suffer from it at some point in their lives. Adding lower back exercises to your workout routine can alleviate and prevent pain.
There are many reasons for this high number of people experiencing low back pain, but a common one is that our core muscles are out of balance. We tend to have weak abdominals and strong backs, which puts a lot of stress on the back and can result in pain over time. Also, many people carry too much weight in the mid-section, resulting in additional pressure on the back.
Multiple ways exist to address this health issue, including massage, physical therapy, chiropractic, hydrotherapy, ice packs, heat treatments, braces, painkillers and more. But really, most of these serve more as a band-aid, rather than addressing the core issue of muscular imbalance. While you may feel like resting, physical activity and movement can be the best medicine to stimulate circulation and reduce stiffness.
Working the core through abdominal and lower back exercises is a valuable way to get stronger overall and improve posture, both of which can help alleviate back pain. Adding flexibility exercises will help ease tightness and improve range of motion.
After ruling out any medical issues, such as a herniated disk, with your physician, work with a personal trainer or physical therapist, or attend core, Pilates or yoga classes at the health club. You can also research on your own – there is a ton of information available on lower back exercises, and most can be done without any special equipment.
Some common core exercises include crunches, planks, Superman extensions, bird dog and pelvic tilts; and helpful stretches include cat/cow, spinal rotation and hamstring stretches. Check reputable websites online or buy a book for many more suggestions.
As for cardio, lower impact workouts such as the elliptical can be good options, as most are ergonomically designed to minimize stress to the back. Recumbent ellipticals are also especially effective because they provide back support. Swimming is non-impact and works the entire body as well.
Keeping your core strong through regular exercise, and stretching consistently, both are good ways to keep your back relatively pain-free.