Exercises for Lower Back Pain

7 day back pain cureExercise is an effective way to reduce lower back pain. While everyone's needs are different, here are a few surefire exercises for lower back pain.
The Bird-Dog is an effective exercise that can be performed to strengthen the glutes and stimulate the lower back muscles all while minimizing compressive force in the spine.

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To perform this exercise, get down on your hands and knees (hence the name of the exercise) with your head in line with your body (your eyes should be pointed to the ground). Extend one leg straight back so that the hip and knee are fully extended and in a straight line with the upper body. When performed correctly, this exercise should result in a good contraction in the gluteal (buttocks) muscles of the straight leg. Switch legs and repeat for 10-15 repetitions per leg.
Key Point: Only the leg should move if you are performing this exercise. Try to keep the spine as still as possible when performing this exercise.
Once this movement is comfortable, you can progress by raising your opposite arm straight out as you move your leg back. This will challenge your ability to maintain a neutral spine and is a great exercise for a herniated disc as bulges become irritated when the spine is out of its neutral alignment for an extended period of time. As a result, the Bird-Dog is one of the best exercises for lower back pain.
Prone Extension
This exercise can provide relief if you have a painful herniated disc. To perform this exercise, lay down on your stomach and press your arms into the floor. This position can can force disc material back into its proper place and therefore provide relief from disc-related pain. This position can be held for 10-30 seconds, jsut as if it was a stretch rather than an exercise for lower back pain.

Use caution when performing this exercise as it is not for all back pain but rather is an exercise for a herniated disc. If this is uncomfortable or painful, do not do it! If your pain is the result of an irritated facet joint or spondylothesis, this exercise will not provide relief. If your pain is the result of a herniated disc, it will be beneficial.
Having high levels of abdominal endurance (that is endurance, not strength!) has been correlated with lower rates of back pain. The plank is the best way to build this type of endurance.
This exercise is actually quite simple; to perform it, get into a push-up position and then drop down onto your elbows, so that your upper body is supported by your forearms and your entire body is in a straight line.
Once you are in position, hold yourself in that board (hence the name "plank") position for as long as you can maintain the straight line shape; once your butt begins to drop, rest before repeating. Aim to start at around 15-30 seconds and over the next few weeks, build up to several minutes. You should be able to hold a plank for 3 minutes for optimal back protection.
Just like with a push-up, a plank can be made easier by dropping to your knees. For an extra challenge, perform the plank with one foot off the ground. The plank is one of the best exercises for lower back pain.

This is part 1 of a two-part article. For part 2, see Exercises for Low Back Pain.

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