Exercises for lower-back pain
It’s very common and affects many South Africans every year, but exercise can reduce lower-back pain and, in some cases, prevent it from recurring. Do these simple moves as part of your normal routine or at home.
Flexion (3–4 repetitions, daily)
- Get down on all fours, keeping your hands and knees shoulder-width apart.
- Your hips should be directly above your knees and at a 90° angle, with your shoulders directly above your hands.
- Slowly move your hips backwards to get your buttocks to your heels.
- Hold the stretching position for 10–15 seconds.
Stretching flexion (3–4 repetitions per side, daily)
- Lie on your back with your legs straight and your back in a neutral position (slightly arched).
- Lift one leg towards your chest, bending at the knee. Hold the position with your hands as far as possible or until a gentle stretch is felt.
- Keep the stretch for 10–15 seconds and slowly return to your original position. Repeat with the other leg.
Lumbar rotation stretch (3–4 repetitions per side, daily)
- Lie on your back with knees bent and arms stretched out. Keep your shoulders on the ground during the exercise.
- Keeping your knees together, lower them to the floor as far as you can on one side, and hold the stretch for a couple of seconds.
- Return to the starting position and repeat on the other side.
Pelvic tilts (5–10 repetitions, daily)
- Lie on your back with your knees bent. Get your lower stomach muscles working by gently pulling your bellybutton towards your spine. If you can’t lie on your back, you can do this in a supported, reclined sitting position.
- Keep your breathing steady while tilting your pelvis and flattening your back to the ground.
- Hold for five seconds.
- Return slowly to your original position and repeat.
Cat stretch (5–10 repetitions, daily)
- Support yourself on all fours.
- Keep your back straight and head in line with your body.
- Arch your back upwards.
- Let your spine arch downwards.
- Return to the starting position and repeat.
You shouldn’t feel pain when you carry out these exercises. If you do feel pain, talk to your GP or physiotherapist. They’ll be able to make sure you’re doing them correctly or may suggest different exercises. Guided exercise is an important part of any rehabilitation treatment plan.
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