For some, even hearing the word exercise is exhausting. The thought of throwing on running shoes and heading to the gym brings anxiety. It is much easier to avoid such exertion and stay inside, continuing a sedentary lifestyle. After all, working at a desk can be tiring in its own way. The stresses that come at a desk job are enough to make one desire a simple evening in front of the television to alleviate the anxiety.
For others, hearing the word exercise brings joy. The idea of running sounds relaxing. Immediately following a difficult day at work, the best place to be is the gym. Swinging weights around is great way to alleviate stress. After all, work doesn’t always condone fast-paced, physical energy. The best ways to release such stress is to work it out with high intensity exercises.
While these two kinds of people are seemingly very different, they both share a common ailment with back pain. Sedentary lifestyles and vigorous exercise can take a toll on your lower back. With over 31 million Americans suffering from lower back pain, it is necessary for everyone to be familiar with exercises that can help.
Here are the five best exercises for lower back pain, accessible to all fitness levels.
Gym-goers often avoid the deadlift. Many believe a myth that says it is harmful to your back. And, if done improperly, it really can cause more back pain. However, with proper form, deadlifts can be among the most useful exercises for your entire body, and especially beneficial for your back and core. Granted, you will be sore the next day. But, your body will thank you as your posture improves and your back pain lessens.
With deadlifts, the first thing to keep in mind is your limitations. Don’t try this exercise with more weight than you can handle. When you have your weight ready, grab the bar and bend your knees to be sure you don’t hyperextend your legs. Make sure your chest is lifted and your back is straight as you stand up. Curving your spine or shrugging at the top of your lift can cause damage to your body. As said before, this lift can be difficult. But, if done with proper form, your back health should improve injury-free.
We often think of squats as an exercise that builds the lower body. While it is true that this exercise is fantastic for building your quadriceps and hamstrings, it is also great for your back. As your core and hip flexors gain strength through this exercise, so will your back. This should improve posture and decrease back pain.
As with deadlifts, proper form is imperative when you squat. Improper form can be damaging to your knees and even dangerous if you have too much weight. If you haven’t built enough strength to feel comfortable with a barbell, you may want to consider doing the bodyweight version. Be sure to keep your chest out and back straight as you squat down. To avoid stress on your joints, do not let your knees pass your feet. For maximum benefits, squat down until your legs are parallel with the ground.
- Back Extensions
Back extensions are often avoided because many people just don’t know what they are. However, they can be quite helpful in lower back pain. After all, their main target is the lower back. As you increase strength in this area, your posture and back pain should improve. It is simple and very beginner-friendly.
When you do find the hyperextension bench (almost every gym has one), place your ankles firmly beneath the foopads with your face down. Make sure the upper pad is adjusted so your thighs can lie flat as your upper body hangs off the bench. Keeping your back straight, raise your torso until your upper body is parallel to the ground. You can use weights if you want to, but doing this exercise without weights can also be quite beneficial.
- Full Body Roll-Ups
Core strength is connected closely with back pain. The weaker your core is, the more back pain you will likely experience. The stronger your core is, the better your back will feel. Full body roll-ups may seem like it is targeting your abs, but your back can benefit greatly from such an exercise. While it strengthens your core, your spine will be mobilized and your back muscles will get the stretch they need.
To do a full body roll-up, lie on your back with your arms extended above you. Roll up with your arms pointed to the sky, sitting up straight at the top. Once at the top of your exercise, curve your back into a C curve as your reach for your toes. Your back and spine should feel a stretch as you perform this motion multiple times. Uncurl your spine slowly as your lower yourself back to the ground. For maximum benefit, try to keep your feet on the ground during your repetitions.
The forearm plank is great for your core and lengthening your spine. Both your core and a lengthened spine can improve your posture. This lessens the back pain that many of us experience from heavy lifting or living a sedentary lifestyle.
To make sure you are performing a plank properly, be sure that your back is straight. Lift your knees off the ground while keep your toes planted on the floor. Try to imagine a straight line from your head to your heels. You can do this either on your elbows or with your forearms extended. Just be sure to place your elbows or hands directly under your shoulders. Hold for as long as you can. Some people start at 30 seconds; others can hold for 60 seconds. Just do whatever you can with this exercise as it can be difficult.
Be sure that you never overdo any of these exercises in the gym. Many people experience back pain from working out due to poor form. If you are doing any of these with poor form, you will feel the consequences. However, if you understand your limitations and work hard, your back health should increase while your back pain decreases. Exercise is something that we should all make time for. Just be sure that you are doing it right. Always consult a health care professional.