What are some Exercises for Lower Back Muscle Strain?
The muscles in the lower back/lumbar, abdomen, buttocks, and hips, all help to support and stabilize the spine. It’s important to keep these muscles strong through strengthening exercises. Strong lumbar region muscles will help lessen the chance of experiencing a lower back injury or pulled back muscle.
Besides aerobic conditioning, a back exercise plan will consist of targeting the lower back muscles, as well as the muscles in the abdomen, hips, and pelvis. By directly targeting these muscle groups with strengthening exercises, your lower back will be more able to resist a pulled muscle in the lower back due to jarring impacts, or overuse injuries involving the lumbar spine.
Certainly it’s important to consider your fitness level and the injury diagnosis in order to prescribe an exercise program to deal specifically with the back injury you sustain.
Stretching Exercises for the Lower Back
The added stress and strain from stiff back muscles put additional stress on the spine’s natural movement. By stretching the lower back and the muscles in your lower body you can alleviate this tension and reduce pain in the spine
Here are some of the recommended stretching exercises to reduce stress on the lower back muscles;
- Hip flexor stretch.
- Kneel on one knee (use a towel for cushioning if needed)
- With a bent knee, put your foot in front of you. You may need to place your hand on your knee for better balance.
- Place your opposite hand on the opposite hip and avoid bending over at the waist. Try to ensure that you keep your core abdominal muscles tight while maintaining your back straight.
- Now lean slightly forward and gradually add more body weight on the front bent leg. You should definitely feel your thigh stretching.
- Try to hold for 20 to 30 seconds
- Switch legs and repeat for three to five times as your pain level allows.
- Lower back muscle stretch.
- Lie on your back and bring your knees and chin towards your chest.
- Feel the slight pull on the muscles in the neck, shoulders and torso.
- Hold and stretch for 20 seconds and repeat three to five times
- Remember to breathe normally
- Hamstring stretch.
- Lie on the floor near a wall
- Raise your leg and place your heel against the wall with a slight bend at the knee
- Slowly straighten your leg until you feel the back of your thigh stretch
- Hold for 20 to 30 seconds
- Repeat with the other leg and do each leg three to five times depending on your level of flexibility
While you do these stretching exercises, please remember to breathe deeply as this helps to relieve muscle tension. Each stretch should be held long enough to loosen tight muscles, at least 20 seconds, and repeated three to five times. While you’re stretching, pay close attention to your body, as stretching should not hurt. If you’re causing yourself more pain while stretching, then stop, or limit the number of repetitions of each exercise.
Strengthening Exercises for Low Back Pain
Tai Chi, Yoga, and Pilates are common recommendations for types of hobbies or activities that will help strengthen lower back muscles and build core muscle strength.
Working with a healthcare professional to create a customized exercise program for your particular fitness level is recommended, especially if you are rehabilitating a lower back injury.
The McKenzie method and the dynamic lumbar stabilization method are two strengthening exercise programs that are used to help rehabilitate a lower back injury. The McKenzie method focuses more on helping to lessen musculoskeletal pain through altering how the body moves naturally. On the other hand, the dynamic lumbar stabilization method attempts to find a neutral or natural spine position so that there is healthy alignment between the spine and associated muscle groups. This method is used to train the back to naturally hold a correct posture on its own.
Maintaining a healthy body free from pulled muscles, especially lower back strain, takes incorporating an exercise program and making it a part of your lifestyle. That is why it is important to find an exercise program that you enjoy and is comfortable enough for you to do on a regular basis.
Low-Impact Aerobic Exercises
Aerobic exercise can be one of the most beneficial rehabilitation methods you can employ, especially after a back muscle injury as it helps to create a healthy blood flow moving oxygen and nutrients through your body to those injured muscles.
Here are some examples of low-impact aerobic exercises to speed recovery:
- Walking is a great low impact aerobic exercise that does not need any specialized equipment and can be done anywhere. Try to walk at least 5 minutes initially at a brisk pace, building up to 30 minutes a day.
- Cycling can be a fantastic low impact aerobic exercise to improve muscle strength and flexibility in the hips, back, and legs as long as you ride on flat terrain, or use a stationary cycle with adequate back support like a recumbent exercise cycle.
- Swimming or water aerobics is a cool way to get your blood flowing to your entire body while engaging the muscles that have been damaged in a gradually and non impactful way. This is one of the lowest risk methods of actively engaging multiple parts of your body using the resistance of the water as a low impact aerobic exercise that elevates your heart rate while minimizing potential jarring to your lower back strain.
It is important to keep in mind that you should try to get your heart rate elevated for at least 20 minutes or more, at least three or four times per week, in order for to get the most out of these types of aerobic exercises. Engaging in any exercise program can cause fatigue or soreness, but should not cause more pain. If your pain increases during exercise, you should stop, or at least decrease the time or intensity of your workout. You can attempt shorter periods of exercise, and then gradually build up to 20 minutes or more as your pain allows.