Lower back pain is the leading cause of global disability and it’s been steadily increasing since the 90s. Nearly 80% of the population will experience lower back pain at some time during their lives.
For most, the clinical course is benign, with 95% of those afflicted recovering within a few months of onset. Some, however, will not recover and will develop chronic lower back pain, which is defined as lasting 3 months or longer.
What causes lower back pain?
Lower back pain can be caused by many things. For example, it could be a symptom of an underlying condition, like kidney stones or acute pancreatitis. But in most cases, lower back pain is usually caused by living a sedentary lifestyle.
While many believe that low back pain is an unsolvable condition, that is simply not true. With the right exercise and consistency, you can strengthen your spine, and end back pain forever. Here’s a list of the top exercises you can do to prevent lower back pain:
Walking is one of the best things you can do for chronic lower back pain. A 2019 meta-analysis found that walking was just as effective as exercise and rehab exercises in treating chronic low back pain. Ten to fifteen minutes of walking twice a day will help ease your lower back pain.
The key to any walking program is to start right away. Here are some tips to prevent lower back pain while walking:
- Start with a short, 5 to 10-minute walk every day and gradually work your way up. You may also use a treadmill or an elliptical machine based on your preference.
- If regular walking is painful, try walking in a shallow pool. The buoyancy of water may provide enough relief to allow you to complete your walking exercise.
- Always use correct posture while walking by keeping your spine naturally curved. Your shoulders must be relaxed with your head balanced on top of your spine (and not flexed forward).
2. Dead Hangs
The dead hang is an exercise that requires you to simply hang from an overhead/pull up bar like a dead weight. No repetitions, no pushes or pulls, just a plain, old, simple hang.
Dead hangs help decompress your entire spinal column and pelvis. Doing this for just 1-2 minutes can give you immediate pain relief. This is especially true for anyone who’s recently had any kind of compressive disc injury.
Fitness experts suggest aiming for the following times based on your level:
- Beginner: 10 seconds.
- Intermediate: 20 to 30 seconds.
- Advanced: 45 seconds +
3. Superman Extensions
These are also called isometric spinal extensions. This exercise helps strengthen the spinal erectors and other nearby muscles to support your spine, promote good posture, and reduce risk of injury.
This is one of the most effective ways to strengthen your spine without the need for equipment. There are many variations of this exercise to make it easier or harder depending on your current level of strength.
4. Seated Trunk Flexion
If getting on the floor is difficult, you’ll want to give these a try. This exercise completely isolates the spinal erector muscles and can be done with your bodyweight or added weight.
While in a seated position, cross your arms over your chest or hold a dumbbell and slowly curl your back forward in order to round your upper back. Then return back to the starting position. Try doing 2-3 sets of 15-30 reps for best results.
5. Horizontal Back Extension
If you have access to this piece of equipment, make use of it. This exercise directly trains your spinal muscles, glutes, and every rep is a decompressive stretch at the bottom of the movement.
Start with your bodyweight and do 2-3 sets of 10-30 reps. You can gradually add weight to this exercise as your spine becomes stronger.
6. Seated Good Morning
This exercise is a great way to strengthen your spine while also improving hip flexibility. You don’t need to start with a bar on your back. Like other exercises it’s best to start with just your body weight, then transition to dumbbells, then eventually the bar.
7. Jefferson Curl
This exercise moves your entire mobile spine from your lower back through your neck into flexion and then extension in one motion. But it’s not for everyone. You need to have the necessary mobility and stability to perform this movement. If you’re able to perform all of the previous exercises with good form then you should be ready to try this.
The weight you use should be light and avoid going to failure. Stick to 3-5 sets of 5 quality reps.