5 Strengthening Moves to Help with Lower Back Pain
I have struggled with chronic low back pain for the last 10 years. I am finally getting to a point where I am managing it and feel some relief. After years and years of being in pain, I know how frustrating, debilitating, deflating and challenging it can be to live in pain. Not only is chronic pain physically debilitating, it can have a huge affect on your mental health, make you feel hopeless, depressed and anxious.
Oftentimes, lower back pain can be a mystery. I have had numerous MRI’s and X-rays, enough to know that I have a herniated disc and slight scoliosis. Is that what is causing my back pain? No one knows. What I do know is I have finally found a team of people to help manage my pain. Through my chronic pain journey, I have discovered what helps, and what doesn’t. Sometimes when we feel pain, we feel like we need to stretch it out. For me, I am super flexible already and do yoga regularly. What I found I really need, and what so many others with back pain need is to wake up, strengthen, and stabilize sleepy muscles that are stagnant and causing others to overwork.
If you struggle with lower back pain, here are 5 exercises to help strengthen and tone your muscles, and provide support and stability for your lower back.
NOTE: I am not a doctor or medical health professional. The following exercises are based on my own personal experiences and qualification as a yoga instructor and someone who struggles with back pain.
5 Strengthening Moves to Help with Lower Back Pain
Begin laying on your back with your knees bent and feet resting on the ground. Begin to find your posterior and anterior pelvic tilt by arching and rounding your spine. Inhale as you arch and exhale as you round. Move back and forth between these two postures for several breaths.
Now find the natural curve of your spine, which should be somewhere between the two positions. From here, engage your abdominal muscles and pelvic floor. Lift your legs off the floor into a 90 degree position. Keep your left leg at 90 degrees, while you move your right toes down to tap the ground. Inhale your right leg back to 90 and exhale toe tap. Continue this for 20 cycles, while keeping your abdomen engaged. Switch sides. As you become stronger with this, you can increase sets and eventually move towards tapping lowering and tapping both toes at the same time.
Correcting Lateral Pelvic Tilt
Misalignment in our legs and hips can often be part of the cause of our pain. For me, my right hip always protrudes my left. This can be caused by scoliosis or leg discrepency. This simple exercise, helps to bring my hips back into alignment and guide that right hip back into place. You can have a doctor or PT specialist check your alignment to determine if this is something that would be helpful for you.
Lay on your back, find the natural curve of your spine, engage your core and lift your legs to 90 degrees. If you have a lateral pelvic tilt like me on the right side, you can correct this by putting your left hand on your left thigh and right hand behind your right thigh. As you apply opposing pressure into both your hands and legs. Push your left hand into your left thigh as you pull back with your left thigh. Push forward with your right thigh as you pull back with your right hand. If your lateral pelvic tilt is on the left side you can do this same exercise but on the opposite sides.
Bird dog is a great exercise known to improve stability, encourage a neutral spine and improve low back pain. You can begin bird dog from tabletop position on your hands and knees. Keep your core engaged and a neutral spine. On your next inhale, slowly glide your left knee and right hand off the floor to extend out in front of and behind you. Hold for 10 seconds and exhale as you return to tabletop. Repeat on the other side and alternate between sides for 10 reps. Once you become competent with bird dog on hands and knees you can do it standing.
Side plank is another great low back strengthener as it also provides that neutral spine alignment and activates the muscles responsible for spine stabilization. Begin by lifting into a plank position on your toes and hands. Hands should be about shoulders width distance apart. Rotate onto the right side of your right foot and either stack or place feet in front of or on top of each other. Hold for 60 seconds and switch sides. Repeat 3 times. Add to this by lifting your upper leg in side plank and tapping it on the floor behind you. Try several reps of this coming back to side plank each time.
Come onto your back and bend your knees with your feet planted on the floor. Engage your core, lift your hips and come up into bridge pose. Hold your bridge for 10 seconds and lower. Lift again and repeat for 10 reps. On your 11th rep. hold for 2 minutes. Once you become competent in this you can begin lifting one leg at a time in your bridge and hold. Be sure to keep your hips level and stable as you do this.
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