Good and Bad Exercises for Low Back Pain

You may feel like resting, but moving is good for your back. Exercises for lower back pain can strengthen back, stomach, and leg muscles. They help support your spine, relieving back pain. Always ask your health care professional before doing any exercise for back pain. Depending on the cause and intensity of your pain, some exercises may not be recommended and can be harmful.

1. Avoid: Toe Touches

Exercise is good for low back pain -- but not all exercises are beneficial. Any mild discomfort felt at the start of these exercises should disappear as muscles become stronger. But if the pain is more than mild and lasts more than 15 minutes during exercise, patients should stop exercising and contact a doctor. 

Some exercises may aggravate pain. Standing toe touches, for example, put greater stress on the disks and ligaments in your spine. They can also overstretch lower back muscles and hamstrings.

2. Try: Partial Crunches

Some exercises can aggravate back pain and should be avoided when you have acute low back pain. Partial crunches can help strengthen your back and stomach muscles. Lie with knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Cross arms over your chest or put hands behind your neck. Tighten stomach muscles and raise your shoulders off the floor.  

Breathe out as you raise your shoulders. Don't lead with your elbows or use arms to pull your neck off the floor. Hold for a second, then slowly lower back down. Repeat 8 to 12 times. Proper form prevents excessive stress on your low back. Your feet, tailbone, and lower back should remain in contact with the mat at all times.

3. Avoid: Sit-ups

Although you might think sit-ups can strengthen your core or abdominal muscles, most people tend to use muscles in the hips when doing sit-ups. Sit-ups may also put a lot of pressure on the discs in your spine.


4. Try: Hamstring Stretches

Lie on your back and bend one knee. Loop a towel under the ball of your foot. Straighten your knee and slowly pull back on the towel. You should feel a gentle stretch down the back of your leg. Hold for at least 15 to 30 seconds. Do 2 to 4 times for each leg.

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