31 million people. That’s the estimated number of Americans who are experiencing lower back pain right now. Are you one of them? Sitting in front of a computer can make back pain feel even worse.
Three of the usual suspects for ill health can affect your back as well: poor fitness, being overweight, and smoking (which can reduce nutrients to your spine). We spend at least 50 billion dollars a year treating lower back pain. But the good news is that there’s a strong chance free physical therapy can help. After checking with your health care provider, consider trying these simple physical therapies to get on the road to feeling great!
1. Get up and stretch!
Concentrate on gently stretching your hamstrings twice a day. Try and hold for 30 seconds without bouncing or straining. Start slow and don’t overdo it! Stretch them even if you’re feeling no pain, until it’s a healthy, regular habit.
2. Get moving!
But don’t overexert yourself. Walking, swimming or using a stationary bicycle works just fine. These types of low impact aerobic exercises will help you loosen tight muscles and tendons, while building strength and flexibility.
3. Work that core!
Lie on your back, bend one knee up, tighten your abs and behind, then raise your other leg up 12 inches off the floor and hold while you count to 3. Do it 10 times, then repeat with your other leg.
4. More fun core work!
Kneel down on your knees while keeping your body straight up, and tighten your abs and behind. Put your hands on your hips. Now lift one leg into a lunge position where you are kneeling on one knee: where your foot is flat on the ground, your leg is bent, and thigh horizontal. Slowly lunge forward, moving from your hips. Count to 3 and pull back to kneeling. Repeat 10 times, then switch sides and repeat.
5. Pelvic tilt!
Lie on your back, then bend your knees up, with your feet flat on the floor. Remember to breathe evenly throughout. Tighten your abs and behind, then press your lower back to the floor. Hold for just a second, then relax. Repeat 10 times. As you get stronger, work up to holding for 5 seconds.
There are many different reasons for lower back pain, and there’s no one-size-fits-all solution, but mild and gentle stretching and strengthening has a powerful track record and is used by physical therapists around the world. Do you have any lower back pain tips that have worked for you?
Lower Back Pain Tip
: Train yourself to sleep on your side instead of your stomach or back to reduce pressure on your spine and help relieve lower back pain.
All About Back Pain
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Physical Therapy Benefits For Back Pain
Physical Therapy Corner: Low Back Pain and Lumbar Stabilization Exercises
Physical Therapy and Back Pain in the New York Times