If you are looking for the fastest way to relieve lower back pain then it is crucial that you focus on core exercises. Core exercises strengthen lower back and abdominal muscles which are part of an entire network of muscles and ligaments that connect your spine to the rest of your body. When these muscles are weak or in bad condition more stress is applied to the spine, dramatically increasing the chance that you will experience pain or injury in your lower back.
Not Just Abs
There are a few things that you should be doing everyday in order to prevent further injury in your lower back but adding some core exercises to your daily routine will chip away at the pain that is currently there even faster. As the muscles in your lower back and abdominals get stronger they are able to better support your spine and allow it to extend and straighten, releasing tension in your lower back from conditions like sciatica.
When people think of core exercises they usually only think of the abominal muscles. Your core actually consists of the three groups of muscles that surround the lower half of your torso. In order to receive the full benefits from having a strong core and start to relieve your lower back pain it is important to work each of these groups of muscles at some point during your practice. The three groups are:
Extensors – This group of muscles consists of your back and glute muscles and include the large muscles that run from each side of your lower back up and along your spine. When these muscles are weak you might experience pain when standing for long periods of time or when you attempt to move your thighs away from your body.
Flexors – This group of muscles consists of your abdominals and the outside of your hips. The purpose of these muscles are to support the spine from the front and to control the arch of your lower spine. As your hip muscles get stronger and loosen up you will be able to easily move your legs away from your body.
Obliques – Your obliques are the muscles on the sides of your body that connect the front and back of your core. When you have strong obliques your spine is able to lengthen upright without resistance, relieving your lower back muscles. When your oblique muscles begin to strengthen you will notice your posture improve and your spine will be able to curve more freely, allowing you to go deeper into certain stretches.
Which Core Exercises Strengthen Lower Back Muscles?
I highly recommend starting your own yoga practice if you really want to get rid of your low back pain but if you still aren’t convinced it will change your life if you do, at least start setting aside 10-15 minutes a few times a week to do some core exercises that include all three core muscle groups listed above.
A great time to stretch is when your muscles are warm so a quick core routine before you do your daily lower back stretches will activate all the muscles that support your lower back, slowly relieving the pain overtime.
Below are a few core exercises that I practice when I need some quick relief in my lower back.
1. Standing Back Bend
Stand up straight and bring your hands up over your head, reaching towards the sky. When you feel your spine is as straight as possible, add a slight bend in your back while lifting your chest and head upwards. After holding for a breath or two, engage your core and slowly come back to standing with your hands over your head.
2. Forward Fold
With your hands lifted over your head, reach out of your fingertips and begin to bend forward. Be sure to keep your spine lengthened as you fold forward until you release your arms towards your feet. Your knees can be slightly bend in this position so you can release your lower back muscles. Hold this stretch while swaying from side to side for a few breaths, feeling how each side of your body responds to your movement.
3. Plank Pose
Place your hands on the mat directly beneath your shoulders and stretch your legs out behind you. Lift your knees off the ground while tightening the lower part of your stomach up and in. Keep your hips and lower back flexed and do not allow them to sag downwards. Tighten all of your core muscles and hold for a few breaths.
4. Bird Dog
Start on your hands and knees with your shoulders over your hands and hips over your knees. Without allowing your body to sway to one side or the other, lift your left leg off the ground and straighten it out behind you. Now, lift your right arm off the ground and straighten it out in front of you. Your left leg and right arm should be pulling in opposite direction, releasing the tension in your lower back and strengthening your core.
If you would like to take this exercise further, begin to bring your left knee and your right elbow in towards the center of your body until they touch. After holding for a few seconds, bring your arm and leg back to the starting position and then reach your right arm back while keeping your chest open and bending and grabbing your left foot behind you. Hold for a few seconds and then switch sides.
5. Child’s Pose
From your hands and knees, spread your knees a little wider than your hips and bring your toes to touch. Begin to lower your glutes to your feet while reaching your arms out in front of you with your palms on the ground. Bring your forehead to gently rest on the ground and reach your hands as far forward as you can on your mat while pushing your glutes and lower back towards the ground. Allow your lower back to really stretch in this position for a few breaths and then release.
It’s Time To Get Serious
If you are serious about getting rid of your back pain for good then you have to start stretching and strengthening your core muscles – there are no shortcuts. Taking pain pills to help with the pain is just temporarily masking the problem and can have detrimental effects to your long-term health, and just accepting and living with the pain is a good way to end up in the hospital, or worse.
Starting a regular yoga routine is the easiest way to guarantee that all of your core muscles will begin to get stronger and your back pain will slowly begin to fade away. On top that, you’re going to be working out the rest of your body as well which will also make every other aspect of your life so much better.
I’ve had chronic low back pain for the past 15 years and after a year of DDP Yoga I was stronger and leaner than I had been in years and my low back pain was a fraction of what it was when I started. Now that I have started practicing a form of hot yoga, the strength that I gained in DDP yoga combined with the heat of my hot yoga practice has propelled my practice forward and my back pain is virtually non-existent.
Lower back pain no longer controls what I can and can’t do and I have never felt better in my life.
Strengthen Your Core To Relieve Lower Back Pain
As your core muscles begin to get stronger you are going to notice a huge change in the way your lower back feels when doing everyday tasks. After consistent practice your pain will slowly begin to fade away due to the tension being released in your lower back and spine.
If you had told me a couple years ago that I would be able to relieve 15 years of chronic pain just by practicing yoga, I would have never believed you. Don’t let your pride or ego stop you from being able to enjoy a life free from back pain. Start today and don’t stop, I promise you won’t regret it.
What is your favorite exercise to strengthen your core?
Stick With It!