There’s no easy way to put it: Lower back pain just plain sucks. Whether it’s dull and achy, sharp and shooting, or tight and stiff, discomfort on your backside is no picnic. But the good news is there are easy ways to strengthen your muscles and kiss back pain goodbye.
In fact, exercise is the best preventive care, especially for the lower back, says
Morgan Kirner, CPT, a certified personal trainer and trainer at Balanced. “Exercises that help to strengthen the muscles of the lower back will keep you stable and help maintain healthy posture while you age through the many different phases of your life.” In addition, when you train your lower back, you’re also working the surrounding muscles like your abs, glutes, and hamstrings, which will boost your overall strength and keep you pain free.
Back pain is often a strain or pain in the muscles and ligaments (what connects muscle to bone) of the lower back, explains Kirner. “The lower five vertebrae that make up the lumbar spine carry the majority of the weight of your upper body, and the lumbar spine helps our bodies pick up heavy objects, twist right and left, and coordinate contralateral movements like walking or jogging,” she adds. That’s a lot of work.
Not to mention, your back engages when you’re picking up kids or groceries, walking, jumping, dancing, riding a bike, or even sitting upright all day long, and overuse is a main culprit of the pain. “Over time, the more pressure that is put on the lumbar spine, the more it compresses,” says Kirner. “This can lead to herniated disks, strains, and other injuries that require more intensive rehabilitation, because without proper strengthening exercises, the lumbar spine and lower back are vulnerable to deterioration, injury, and of course, pain and discomfort.”
Additionally, poor posture and a weak core may be contributing to the pain. If your core is underdeveloped, your body will compensate and have the lower back take on the extra work. And if you’re sitting all day long (guilty!), your hips are in a constant state of flexion which can cause the lower back muscles to stretch and extend, Kirner explains.
Don’t forget there’s a happy ending here to eliminate or prevent all that lower back pain, though.
10 Best Exercises For Lower Back Pain
For all the lower back relief, complete these low-impact moves recommended by Kirner any time of day whether you’re an early riser or night owl. Start with a quick warm up (brisk walk or dynamic stretches), then dive in.
Time: 5-15 minutes | Equipment: Bodyweight, dumbbells (optional) | Good for: Back
Instructions: Select two to three moves. Perform the designated reps, then continue onto the next exercise. Repeat twice for three total rounds, and rest up to 60 seconds between rounds.
One quick note, if you experience severe pain or persistent symptoms with little to no improvement, it’s time to check in with your doctor or a physical therapist.