Back problems are one of the most common ailments we see in patients. Persistent and chronic back pain afflicts an incredibly large percentage of the population in the U.S. In fact, nearly two-thirds of all working Americans, some 65 million people, have reported some degree of back pain.
This can be the result of any number of things such as an athletic injury or auto accident, but one of the most common causes is a sedentary lifestyle. With so many of us spending hours a day at a desk, it’s no surprise that lower back pain is so common.
One of the best things you can do to prevent back pain and help strengthen your back following recovery from surgery are lower back exercises.
Below are a few easy exercises that when done correctly and consistently, will help stretch and strengthen the muscles in your back. To prevent injury or further damage, though, be sure to check with your doctor or physical therapist before attempting these exercises.
For this exercise, you’ll need to stand with your back 10 to 12 inches away from a wall. Slowly lean back until your back is against the wall. Now slowly slide down until your knees are bent, keeping your back pressed against the wall. Hold the count for 6 to 10 seconds, then slide up to a standing position. Doing 5 to 10 reps of this exercise will strengthen your back, core, and thigh muscles.
Don’t worry, these aren’t the sit-ups your gym teacher used to make you do in high school (those can actually aggravate back pain). Find a comfortable surface and lie down on your back. Cross your arms over your chest and lift your shoulders just off the floor. Be sure to breathe out as you lift your shoulders and hold for a second before lowering them back down. Be mindful to keep your tailbone and lower back on the floor.
This is another simple exercise that can be done lying down on your back on a comfortable surface. Simply slowly bend and extend your knee, taking care to keep the heel of your foot on the floor as you bend and extend your leg. Repeat this exercise for 10 repetitions.
Single Knee Chest Stretch
Once you’re comfortable with heel slides, you can move on to this exercise. While still lying on your back, slide up both legs so your feet are on the floor but your knees are bent. Bring one knee to your chest with your hands while you keep the other foot flat on the floor. Keep your lower back pressed to the floor and hold for a count of 15 to 30 seconds. Now repeat with the other leg and alternate for 2 to 4 times with each leg.
This is another great exercise that you can do with a wall. Stand facing the wall with your weight distributed evenly on both feet. Now stand on your toes, raising both heels off the floor and hold for a count of 5 seconds before lowering your heels back down. Repeat this exercise 10 times.