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What are some causes of back pain?



The muscles and ligaments in the back can stretch or tear due to excess activity. Symptoms include pain and stiffness in the lower back, as well as muscle spasms. Rest and physical therapy will help with these symptoms


Disc injury

The discs in the back are prone to injury. This risk increases with age. The outside of the disc can tear or herniate.

A herniated disc, which is also known as a slipped or ruptured disc, occurs when the cartilage surrounding the disc pushes against the spinal cord or nerve roots. The cushion that sits between the spinal vertebrae extends outside its normal position.

This can result in compression of the nerve root as it exits from the spinal cord and through the vertebral bones. Disc injury usually occurs suddenly after lifting something or twisting the back. Unlike a back strain, pain from a disc injury usually lasts for more than 72 hours.



Sciatica can occur with a herniated disc if the disc presses on the sciatic nerve. The sciatic nerve connects the spine to the legs. As a result, sciatica can cause pain in the legs and feet. This pain usually feels like burning, or pins and needles.


Spinal stenosis

Spinal stenosis is when the spinal column narrows, putting pressure on the spinal cord and spinal nerves.

Spinal stenosis is most commonly due to degeneration of the discs between the vertebrae. The result is compression of the nerve roots or spinal cord by bony spurs or soft tissues, such as discs.

Pressure on the spinal nerves causes symptoms such as:  numbness, cramping and weakness

You might feel these symptoms anywhere in the body. Many people with spinal stenosis notice their symptoms worsen when standing or walking.


Abnormal spine curvatures

Scoliosis, kyphosis, and lordosis are all conditions that cause abnormal curvatures in the spine.

These are congenital conditions that are usually first diagnosed during childhood or adolescence. The abnormal curvature causes pain and poor posture because it places pressure on:  muscles, tendons, ligaments and vertebrae

There are a number of other conditions that cause lower back pain. These conditions include:

Arthritis is an inflammation of the joints.

Fibromyalgia is long-term pain and tenderness in the joints, muscles, and tendons.

Spondylitis is inflammation of the joints between the spinal bones.

Spondylosis is a degenerative disorder that may cause loss of normal spinal structure and function. Although aging is the primary cause of the condition, the location and rate of degeneration is specific to the individual.


What are the best stretches for low back pain?


2 women doing back stretchesStart with a neutral spine while on your hands and knees. Take a slow breath in through your nose as you arch your lower back, stretching your pelvis and head toward the sky (Cow Pose). Breathe out slowly as you reverse the movement, tucking your pelvis under as you look toward your navel (Cat Pose). Each breath should last a count of three. Continue alternating between Cat and Cow for five full repetitions.


Child’s Pose

man lying face down on knees stretchingStart with a neutral spine while on your hands and knees. Shift your hips back over your heels and stretch your arms forward as far as you comfortably can. Relax into this pose as much as you can, allowing your pelvis to feel weighted, sinking into your heels. Hold for 10 seconds, then shift forward onto your hands and knees (you can even shift into Cow Pose if you’d like — arching your back and tilting your pelvis up) before sinking back into Child’s pose again


Downward Dog

women doing stretchStart with a neutral spine on your hands and knees. Then, begin by tilting your pelvis up toward the sky, and push through the balls of your feet as you lift your knees from the ground, pressing your hips up to the sky as you slowly straighten your arms and legs as much as you can. Allow your head to hang loose between your arms. If your hips, low back and hamstrings are tight, you may not be able to straighten your legs all the way. Do what you can and try “pedaling” your legs back and forth for a deeper stretch on each side by bending one knee, then the other, as you straighten the opposite leg as much as you can. While you do want to press your heels toward the ground, they do not have to touch down.



woman in plank positionA strong core can help prevent back pain — and the plank is one of the safest exercises to perform while experiencing back pain because it doesn’t require movement to be effective. Simply form a straight line from your head to your heels. You can start with your knees and forearms on the ground, holding for just 10 to 30 seconds at a time. As you get stronger, try the exercise with your legs extended or in a high plank position. Work your way up to holding each plank for a full 60 seconds.



cobra poseCobra helps strengthen the lower back while maintaining flexibility in the spine. Lie on your stomach with your legs stretched behind you. Place your palms on the ground, in line with your shoulders, but in front of your chest. Breathe in through your nose as you press lightly through your palms and tighten your back to lift your chest and shoulders from the ground. Hold for three seconds, then lower slowly as you breathe out. While your palms act as support, you should actively engage your back to lift your chest upward. Repeat the exercise five times.


Hip/Glute Stretches

glute hamstring stretchesThis position does wonders for stretching your hamstrings and hips, both of which can contribute to low back pain. Lie on your back, your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Lift your right foot from the floor and cross it over your left knee so your right hip rotates outward. Lift your left foot from the floor, bringing your left knee toward your torso. Reach your hands around your left thigh to help pull it toward you and deepen the stretch. If this feels comfortable, use your right elbow to press your right thigh away from your body, then begin to slowly extend your left knee, straightening your left leg as much as you can. Hold for 30 seconds, then repeat on the opposite side.


Easy spinal twist

woman lying on backMaintaining the flexibility of your spine is incredibly important, even when you’re hurting, but if the idea of overzealous twisting makes you want to run for cover, I don’t blame you. The easy spinal twist is truly safe for everyone — just make sure you listen to your body and only twist as far as it will allow.


At home remedies for low back pain

 Chill it

Ice is best in the first 24 to 48 hours after an injury because it reduces inflammation, says E. Anne Reicherter, PhD, PT, DPT, associate professor of Physical Therapy at the University of Maryland School of Medicine. “Even though the warmth feels good because it helps cover up the pain and it does help relax the muscles, the heat actually inflames the inflammatory processes,” she says. After 48 hours, you can switch to heat if you prefer. Whether you use heat or ice — take it off after about 20 minutes to give your skin a rest. If pain persists, talk with a doctor.  Here is a great ice pack for the low back


Keep Moving

“Our spines are like the rest of our body — they’re meant to move,” says Reicherter. Keep doing your daily activities. Make the beds, go to work, walk the dog. Once you’re feeling better, regular aerobic exercises like swimming, bicycling, and walking can keep you — and your back — more mobile. Just don’t overdo it. There’s no need to run a marathon when your back is sore.


Stay strong

Once your low back pain has receded, you can help avert future episodes of back pain by working the muscles that support your lower back, including the back extensor muscles. “They help you maintain the proper posture and alignment of your spine,” Reicherter says. Having strong hip, pelvic, and abdominal muscles also gives you more back support. Avoid abdominal crunches, because they can actually put more strain on your back.



Don’t sit slumped in your desk chair all day. Get up every 20 minutes or so and stretch the other way. “Because most of us spend a lot of time bending forward in our jobs, it’s important to stand up and stretch backward throughout the day,” Reicherter says. Don’t forget to also stretch your legs. Some people find relief from their back pain by doing a regular stretching routine, like yoga.  Here are some really good bands that can help you get that extra stretch


Think ergonomically

Design your workspace so you don’t have to hunch forward to see your computer monitor or reach way out for your mouse. Use a desk desk chair that supports your lower back and allows you to keep your feet planted firmly on the floor.


Watch your posture

Slumping makes it harder for your back to support your weight. Be especially careful of your posture when lifting heavy objects. Never bend over from the waist. Instead, bend and straighten from the knees.


Try an over-the-counter pain reliever

Anti-inflammatory drugs such as aspirin, ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin), and naproxen sodium (Aleve, Naprosyn) can help reduce back pain. Acetaminophen (Tylenol) is another over-the-counter option for pain management. Be sure to check with your doctor or pharmacist about any interactions over-the-counter pain relievers may have with other medications you are taking. People with a history of certain medical conditions (such as ulcers, kidney disease, and liver disease) should avoid some medicines.  There are some nutritional supplements you can take for muscle recovery such as Glutamine You can read more about other supplements that can help ease muscle pain at

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Exercises to avoid with low back pain



While cardiovascular fitness is important, those with lower back pain should run away from this exercise. The impact of the foot hitting the ground is jarring and can increase pain exponentially.



Building core strength is a great way to heal and prevent lower back pain, but sit-ups are not the way to go. The majority of people perform sit-ups incorrectly, only exercising superficial muscles in the abdomen and placing tremendous pressure on the lower back.

Double leg lifts

Bodyweight exercises like leg lifts can be effective when done properly, but most people use their lower back to hoist both legs simultaneously. This is not only ineffective but can also result in more injury and lower back pain.



Burpees, that combination of jumping, bending, and push-ups, can be a great way to improve overall fitness. That is, if you aren’t already experiencing lower back pain. The speed at which burpees are done combined with the high-impact stages of the exercise can increase lower back pain exponentially. Burpees are difficult to complete with proper form for those people without pain. Lower back pain makes it nearly impossible.


Foam roller

While not an exercise, many people are prescribed a foam roller to iron out lower back pain, but there are a few problems with this. For pain that is a result of nerve impingement in the spine, a foam roller does nothing and can actually cause increased muscle soreness as you work to get deeper into the body. Foam rollers are also often unable to get to the actual source of the pain and may press on internal organs that are not protected by the stronger muscles of the lower back.


Toe touches

Many patients with lower back pain think they are doing something good when they reach down to the ground for their toes. Indeed, it may feel good – up to a point. This intense forward fold can be extremely taxing for the ligaments and discs in the spine. It can also place direct pressure on areas that are painful and de-stabilize areas of the spine that should be steady (the sacrum, for example).

There is also the danger of overstretching back muscles and hamstrings in an effort to reach the ground. Many people believe that touching their toes or the ground is the best way to improve flexibility (and thus improve lower back pain), but in reality they may be causing more pain and increasing their recovery time. Proper exercises for lower back pain are a balance of strength and flexibility. Focusing on reaching for the toes without strength can make the entire lower back vulnerable.


Back squats

The squat is another one of those terrific all-in-one moves when done correctly. It works all the muscles of your lower body and the core. But when done with poor form, it’s an easy way to end up with more pain.

The most common mistakes people make when squatting is rounding their lower back instead of keeping it straight and not sticking your chest out, which causes tension in the lower back.


Straight-Leg Deadlift

The correctly executed deadlift is a great lower body exercise that works for all the major muscle groups in one single movement; however, when it’s done by an individual with a weak back and core, it can hurt and worsen the existing back problems.

With a weak back, it’s too easy to allow your spine to round out during the movement, causing your lower back to do all the work and lead to more pain in the region.

If you have a previous back injury and don’t have the good core strength, avoid this move completely.

Your core muscles are designed to resist movement, not create it.


Seated Russian Twist

It is a sure way to hurt your back. The lower back is just not designed to rotate.

Its main job is to bend forward and back and flex and extend. The high level of disc compression and twisting involved in seated Russian Twists is exactly the combination of forces that placed you at risk for lower back injuries. It’s best to skip.


Bent over rows

The bent-over row is one of the best back exercises to work the entire posterior chains because of all the muscle engagement during the exercise. However, this back exercise also comes with a problem.

The problem with the bent-over row is that it forces your lower back to do all the work and places a lot of stress on your back. Because of that, the risk of hurting your back outweighs the benefit.

It’s best to substitute it with other back exercises such as the inverted rows and seated rows.


Best exercises to strengthen low back


Bridges work a person’s gluteus maximus, which is the large muscle of the buttocks. People engage this muscle when they move their hips, particularly when they bend into a squat.

The gluteus maximus is one of the most important muscles in the body, and keeping it strong can help support the lower back.


To perform a bridge:                                                                              glute bridge

Lie on the ground and bend the knees, placing the feet flat on the floor hip-width apart.

Press the feet into the floor, keeping the arms by the sides.

Raise the buttocks off the ground until the body forms a straight line from the shoulders to the knees.

Squeeze the buttocks with the shoulders remaining on the floor.

Lower the buttocks to the ground and rest for a few seconds.

Repeat 15 times and then rest for 1 minute.

Do 3 sets of 15 repetitions.


Knee-to-chest stretches

Doing a knee-to-chest stretch can help elongate the lower back, relieving tension and pain.

woman lying on back with knees to chest

To perform the knee-to-chest stretch:

Lie on the back on the floor.

Bend the knees, keeping both feet flat on the floor.

Use both hands to pull one knee in toward the chest.

Hold the knee against the chest for 5 seconds, keeping the abdominals tight and pressing the spine into the floor.

Return to the starting position.

Repeat with the opposite leg.

Repeat with each leg 2–3 times twice a day.


Pelvic tilts

The pelvic tilt exercise can release tight back muscles and keep them flexible.


To perform this lower back flexibility exercise:

Lie back on the floor with knees bent and feet flat, keeping the arms by the sides.

Gently arch the lower back and push the stomach out.

Hold for 5 seconds, then relax.

Flatten the back and pull the bellybutton in toward the floor.

Hold for 5 seconds, then relax.

Increase the number of repetitions daily, building up to 30.


Lying lateral leg lifts

Lying lateral leg lifts work the hip abductor muscles. These muscles support the pelvis and can help reduce strain on the back.

Keeping these muscles strong is essential, as they help a person maintain their balance and can affect mobility.

woman lying on side lifting top let

To perform lying lateral leg lifts:

Lie on one side with the legs together.

Keep the lower leg slightly bent.

Draw the bellybutton into the spine to engage the core muscles.

Raise the top leg about 18 inches, keeping it straight and extended.

Hold the position for 2 seconds.

Repeat 10 times.

Turn onto the other side of the body and repeat, lifting the other leg.

Perform 3 sets on each side.



A person needs strong back extensors to maintain good posture. These muscles run along either side of the spine.

Weak back extensors can reduce spinal and pelvic support, but doing an exercise called a “Superman” can help.

woman lying face down with arms above her head

To perform a Superman:

Lie face down on the ground and stretch both arms out in front of the body, keeping the legs stretched out and flat on the ground.

Raise both the hands and feet, aiming to create a gap of about 6 inches between them and the floor.

Try to pull in the bellybutton, lifting it off the floor to engage the core muscles.

Keep the head straight and look at the floor to avoid neck injury.

Stretch the hands and feet outward as far as possible.

Hold the position for 2 seconds.

Return to the starting position.

Repeat 10 times.

Seated lower back rotational stretches

The seated lower back rotational stretch helps relieve pain, working the core muscles and strengthening the lower back.




Lie back on the floor and bend the knees, keeping the feet flat and hip-width apart.

Cross the hands over the chest.

Breathe in deeply.

On the breath out, engage the abdominal muscles by pulling in the stomach.

Gently raise the head and shoulders 2 inches off the ground while keeping the neck in line with the spine.

Hold for 5 seconds then return to the starting position.

Repeat the exercise 10 times.

Perform 3 sets.



antomy of a deadlift




Good Mornings

man bent over with barbell on his back

Back Extensions

man lying face down on a bench


You can also check out to strengthen your core which will improve low back pain and protect your back from further strain.