Lower back pain (LBP) is one of the most common types of discomfort experienced by adults. And, unfortunately, its onset is also one of the most complex. Your lower back and lumbar spine is so centrally located within your entire structural system, that lower back pain can be attributed to a wide variety of causes.
There are a few especially common causes of LBP, though, which include tight hip flexors, weak glutes, and pelvic instability. Of course, the pain can stem from less expected problems, as well. For example, if you have a knee or foot injury, that can manifest itself into LBP, which means that if you do experience chronic discomfort of any kind, it’s important to talk to your doctor to prevent that pain from developing into something more complicated.
Focusing primarily on the three main causes of LBP, though, there are a few exercises that you can do while training at the gym that will help alleviate or minimize pain.
Begin with one leg in front of the other, with your toes pointing forward. Try to imagine that you’re walking along a railroad track, so that your front and back foot are as in line with each other as they can be while remaining stable.
From this position, maintain an upright torso, and slowly lower your body so that your back knee lightly taps the ground. From here, push yourself back up to the starting position using predominantly your front leg to push yourself up. Your feet should be wide enough a part so that at the bottom portion of the move, both knees bend to make 90 degree angles with your legs. Switch leading and trailing leg, and repeat. Modify by holding dumbbells to your sides for added challenge and resistance.
Why these are these good for LBP:
Because of the split-legged stance, you will actually be doing two things for your back at once. First, you’ll be able to build leg strength while keeping your pelvis fairly stable. When we have weak pelvic muscles, it causes lower back pain due to the shifting and pulling on the muscles around your lumbar. Secondly, it also dynamically stretches your hip flexor on your trailing leg as you lower your knee to the ground. This loosens up tension and helps to relieve that pesky LBP.
Begin on your hands and knees with your hands in line with your shoulders, and your knees positioned directly under your hips. Keep your back flat, just like a tabletop. Begin the movement by extending your left leg backwards (imagine trying to press the bottom of your foot against a wall), and reaching your right arm out in front of you (imagine reaching to the front of the room).
Carefully lower your arm and opposite leg to the ground back to the starting position. Repeat on the opposite side. Pro Tip: Be careful not to raise your legs higher than the height of your back when in the tabletop position.
Why these are good for LBP:
Similar to the split squats, this exercise dynamically stretches the quadriceps and hip flexors, as well as strengthens your glutes. Glute weakness can be another a cause of LBP, as it facilitates an unstable pelvis, especially when coupled with tight hip flexors and quads. Perform these, and you’ll strengthen your core, glutes, and help relieve LBP.
Lie down on your back and bend your knees and place your hands to your sides as if you were about to perform a crunch. From this position, push your feet into the ground and squeeze your butt so that your hips lift off the ground. Raise your hips so that you make a straight diagonal line from your knees to your head. Then, slowly lower your hips so that your butt touches the ground.
Why these are good for LBP:
Weak glute muscles coupled with tight hip flexors can often cause LBP, so doing glute bridges with your body weight will help dynamically stretch your hip flexors and strengthen your glutes to help relieve lower back pain. Be careful not to hyperextend your hips too high, though, as this could potentially pinch your back undesirably.