Color-bar Image

Lower Back Pain

How can I prevent lower back pain?

Exercising regularly is the most effective way to prevent lower back pain. Aerobic exercises and specific muscle strengthening and stretching exercises can help. Low-impact activities like swimming, walking, and bicycling can increase overall fitness without straining the lower back. By building muscle strength and flexibility through core-strengthening exercises, you can condition these muscles to work together in a beneficial way. Improving the flexibility of your upper legs and hips can also help with your alignment and help to reduce lower back pain.

Below are a couple of exercises you may try for improving your core strength.

For strengthening your abdomen:

  • Pelvic tilt:

    Lie down on the floor with your arms at your side. Bend your knees, keeping your feet parallel to each other. Tighten your lower abdomen, pulling your trunk toward the floor without using your leg muscles or buttocks. Hold for 5 seconds. Repeat 5-10 times.

  • Trunk curl:

    Lie down on the floor with your arms crossed on your chest. Bend your knees and using your upper abdominal muscles, raise your trunk up off the floor slightly (around 15 degrees). Make sure that you are mainly lifting your chest, and not your head and neck. This will focus the exercise on your abdominal muscles, instead of your legs. Hold for 5 seconds, then lower back down to the floor.

  • Exercise ball sit-ups:

    Sitting on an exercise ball with your back in a neutral position, raise your arms straight over your head, and rest your feet flat on the floor. Lean backwards, pointing your toes towards the ground, and flexing your hips. Hold for 5 seconds, then sit up slowly, landing your heels back on the ground. Repeat 5-10 times.

For strengthening your back:

  • Arm and leg raises:

    Lying on your stomach, stretch your arms out ahead of you. Your body should be making a straight line. Slowly, raise and then lower each of your limbs (each arm and leg), one at a time.Repeat 5 times for each limb. Next, work alternate limbs by lifting your left arm and right leg simultaneously. Repeat 5 times, and then repeat for your right arm and left leg.

  • Arm and leg raises #2:

    Similar to the above exercise, but with your hands and knees on the floor, so that you are resting on all fours.

    Arms: Slowly lift your left arm up in front of you, so that it is parallel with your torso. Keep your head facing down. Hold for 5 seconds, then lower your arm back to the ground. Repeat 3-5 times for both arms.

    Legs: Slowly lift and straighten your leg behind you, so that it is extending behind you. Try to avoid arching your back. Hold for 5 seconds, then lower your leg back down to the ground.Repeat 3-5 times for both legs.

  • Cat curls:

    Rest on all fours, with your knees and hands on the floor, and your back and neck aligned in a neutral position. Curve your back towards the ceiling, while tightening your lower abdominal muscles. Hold for 5 seconds before releasing into a neutral resting position. Next, arch your back and hold for 5 seconds. Release to a neutral position.

Staying at a healthy weight can also prevent back pain, since excess weight can strain your muscles and joints.

You can also prevent back pain by practicing good posture and lifting techniques.

  • When standing:

    • Keep your pelvis in a neutral position.

    • Rest one foot on a low footstool to reduce the stress on your lower back.

    • Lift your body upwards to maintain good posture – to reduce back muscle stress.

  • When sitting:

    • Change your seated position frequently.

    • Use chairs with good lower back support and armrests.

      • A pillow placed at the natural curve of your back can act as good support.

  • When lifting:

    • Use your legs for any heavy lifting, and avoid lifting heavy objects, when possible.

    • Keep a straight back and let your knees do the bending.

    • Hold the heavy object close to your body.

    • Get help with the heavy lifting, when possible.