Perform the following exercises at least three times a week:
Partial Sit-ups. Partial sit-ups or crunches strengthen the abdominal muscles.
- Keep the knees bent and the lower back flat on the floor while raising the shoulders up 3 – 6 inches.
- Exhale on the way up, and inhale on the way down.
- Perform this exercise slowly 8 – 10 times with the arms across the chest.
Pelvic Tilt. The pelvic tilt alleviates tight or fatigued lower back muscles.
- Lie on the back with the knees bent and feet flat on the floor.
- Tighten the buttocks and abdomen so that they tip up slightly.
- Press the lower back to the floor, hold for one second, and then relax.
- Be sure to breathe evenly.
Over time increase this exercise until it is held for 5 seconds. Then, extend the legs a little more so that the feet are further away from the body and try it again.
Stretching Lower-Back Muscles. The following are three exercises for stretching the lower back:
- Lie on the back with knees bent and legs together. Keeping arms at the sides, slowly roll the knees over to one side until totally relaxed. Hold this position for about 20 seconds (while breathing evenly) and then repeat on the other side.
- Lying on the back, hold one knee and pull it gently toward the chest. Hold for 20 seconds. Repeat with the other knee.
- While supported on hands and knees, lift and straighten right hand and left leg at the same time. Hold for 3 seconds while tightening the abdominal muscles. The back should be straight. Alternate with the other arm and leg and repeat on each side 8 – 20 times.
Note: No one with low back pain should perform exercises that require bending over right after getting up in the morning. At that time, the disks are more fluid-filled and more vulnerable to pressure from this movement.