If you’ve ever experienced back pain, you’re not alone. A whopping 80% of Americans will experience back pain at some point in their lives.
Back pain can be caused due to joint irritation, weak core muscles, or injuries. Chronic low back pain can affect you in many ways. It is the most common reason for missed work, can disrupt your quality of life and your quality of sleep. If your back pain is keeping you up at night, the good news is that there are simple exercises you can do to strengthen your core muscles and relieve yourself of back pain.
Knee To Chest Stretch
Lie on your back on the floor or a yoga mat. Bend your knees and pull them up towards your chest. Try to refrain from lifting your shoulders and head off the floor as you pull your knees as close to your body as possible. Hold this stretch for 30 seconds to 1 minute.
You can also take turns alternating which leg you pull towards your chest. This will help to stretch the muscles in your lower back and release any tension. Breathe into the stretch and try to pull your legs closer to your chest.
Cat Cow Stretch
Place your hands and knees on the floor and keep your spine in a neutral position with your head in line with your spine. Tighten your core muscles and slowly arch your back up into a C shape with your eyes gently looking towards your knees. Hold this position for 20-30 seconds, then exhale and slowly start to sink your stomach towards the floor, arching your back the opposite direction. Hold this stretch for 20-30 seconds, then come back to neutral spine and repeat the cycle 3 times.
Keep your breathing in mind as you inhale and exhale in the poses. Flow throughout the poses at the pace of your breath.
Lie on your back on the floor or a yoga mat. Keep your knees bent and up towards the sky. Slowly take a breath in and as you exhale, slowly rotate your both your knees to the left hand side. Try to keep both your shoulders planted on the ground and keep your eyes looking up. Hold this side for 30 seconds to 1 minute. Slowly exhale as you bring both your knees back up, then repeat the stretch on the other side.
This stretch will help to release tension in your lower back. If it feels painful on your lower back or the side of your body, bring your knees back up slightly rather than letting them touch the floor.
Lie on your stomach on a yoga mat with your arms beside your body and your neck in a neutral position. Slowly take a deep breath and lift your shoulders and chest off the floor. Keep your head looking forward. Squeeze your glutes together and keep your shoulders away from your neck. Hold this position for 30 seconds to 1 minute.
This pose will focus on building strength in your lower back as well as in your upper back and glutes. To make it more challenging you can also lift your feet about 4 inches off the ground. If you would like to make it even more challenging, lift your feet off the ground and reach your arms out in front of you. You can also experiment with doing various pulses in this exercise, rather than keeping it stationary. You can pulse your feet up and down slightly, pulse your arms up and down slightly or both at the same time. If the original pose is too challenging, you can choose to keep your arms bent and rest on your elbows as you keep your eyes looking forward.
Get into the same starting pose as Cat Cow stretch – on all fours on the ground and a neutral spine. Keep your knees just about hip width apart. Take a deep inhale, then a deep exhale as you push your hips back and you reach your glutes towards your ankles. Keep your arms out ahead of you and keep your neck in a neutral position. You can rest your forehead on the ground if you’re flexible enough. Your spine can be slightly rounded in this pose. Hold for 1-2 minutes, taking deep breaths and trying to reach deeper into the pose every time.
If you’re looking to stretch the sides of your body a bit more, you can reach both of your hands to one side, stacking your palms on top of each other, then back to the center and do the same on the other side. You can also choose to reach your arms back next to your legs to help release even more tension in your back. This pose is great for relaxing before bed and taking stress off the lower back.
Helen Sanders is chief editor at HealthAmbition.com. Established in 2012, Health Ambition has grown rapidly in recent years. Our goal is to provide easy-to-understand health and nutrition advice that makes a real impact. We pride ourselves on making sure our actionable advice can be followed by regular people with busy lives.