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physiotherapy for lower back pain

The Top 10 Exercises in Physiotherapy for Lower Back Pain!

Lower back pain (LBP) is a very common problem. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), it can affect people of all ages, including children and teens. Most people will experience LBP at some point. The highest rate of LBP occurs around ages 50-55, and it is more common in women than men. 

However, this issue can be effectively managed and often alleviated through targeted physiotherapy exercises. Physiotherapy offers a range of exercises that not only help reduce the immediate discomfort but also strengthen the muscles of the lower back, improving flexibility and preventing future episodes of pain. In this blog, we are going to discuss the top 10 exercises in physiotherapy for lower back pain.

Understanding Exercises for Lower Back Pain

Lower back pain often results from straining muscles and tendons. Consulting a physiotherapist can significantly improve this pain. Physiotherapists understand the back’s structure and mechanics very well, allowing them to diagnose and manage even the most unusual back pain effectively. Under the guidance of a physiotherapist, you can perform several exercises that will strengthen your lower back and help reduce your pain. Here are some of the best exercises for back pain relief recommended by physiotherapists:

Cat and Camel Exercise 

This is considered one of the best exercises in physiotherapy for lower back pain. For this exercise, a physiotherapist instructs the patient to start on their hands and knees, ensuring proper alignment with hands under the shoulders and knees under the hips. They guide the patient through the camel pose by demonstrating how to gently lift the hips and lower the head to form a hump. The therapist ensures that the movement is done smoothly to avoid any strain. Similarly, for the cat pose, the therapist helps the patient arch the back upwards while lifting the head and shoulders, checking that the movement is gentle and controlled, providing stability and support as needed.

Bird and Dog Exercise 

In this balancing exercise, the physiotherapist assists the patient in accurately setting up the initial position, with knees and hands adequately aligned under the hips and shoulders, respectively. The therapist might support the patient’s body in maintaining balance as they extend one arm and the opposite leg. The physiotherapist ensures that the patient holds the pose without wobbling, maintaining the alignment, and repeating the movement on the opposite side with equal precision.

Core Strengthening Exercise 

For this exercise, the physiotherapist helps the patient lie on their back with knees bent and arms crossed over the chest. The therapist instructs the patient to engage the abdominal muscles before lifting to protect the back. They guide the patient to slowly lift the head and upper back off the floor while keeping the neck and shoulders relaxed. The physiotherapist monitors the form and ensures that the core is actively engaged throughout the exercise, preventing any improper strain.

Hamstring Stretch 

The physiotherapist assists in this stretch by helping the patient lie on their back and raise one leg. They support the leg being lifted and guide the patient on how to hold it with both hands beneath the knee. The therapist ensures that the stretch is performed without bending the knee of the lifted leg and that the other foot stays flat on the floor. They monitor the stretch intensity to ensure it’s effective yet comfortable and help hold the stretch for the recommended duration before switching legs.

Back Extension Exercise 

This exercise, often done standing, involves the physiotherapist instructing the patient to place their hands on the lower back for support. The therapist guides the patient through the backward arch, ensuring the movement is slow and controlled without causing discomfort. They watch over the patient to maintain proper posture and provide support if needed. The therapist also ensures the patient returns smoothly to the starting position and repeats the movement several times.

Piriformis Stretch

A physiotherapist can help by assessing your current level of flexibility and tailoring the piriformis stretch to your needs. In this stretch, the patient lays on their back and crosses the leg that is to be stretched over the opposite leg. From this position, the opposite leg can then be brought towards the patient’s chest to increase the stretch on the piriformis muscle. Therapists ensure that you adopt the correct posture to prevent any undue strain and maximize the stretch’s effectiveness. By providing hands-on guidance, they can accurately adjust your position to target the piriformis muscle, reducing the risk of aggravating the sciatic nerve, which often contributes to lower back pain.

Planks 

The plank is a very common exercise that targets muscles of your core. Physiotherapists can observe and correct your form to ensure proper alignment and technique. They can provide modifications to accommodate any existing injuries or pain, such as allowing you to perform the plank on your knees instead of your toes. Additionally, they can offer progressive challenges as your strength improves, helping to continuously enhance your core stability, which is important for lower back support.

Superman Posture Exercise 

During the Superman exercise, the patient lays on their stomach and simultaneously lifts their arms overhead and their legs towards the ceiling. A physiotherapist can instruct you on properly engaging your back muscles without straining. They monitor the lift and extension of your limbs to ensure that the movements are controlled and beneficial. Their expertise and experience are precious in preventing overextension of the spine, which can lead to further discomfort or injury.

Straight Leg Raise (SLR) Exercise

For the SLR exercise, the patient lays on their back and engages their core to lift their leg up to the ceiling. A physiotherapist can ensure that the leg is raised correctly, maintaining a straight knee to engage the lower abdominal and leg muscles effectively. They can also help you adjust the height of the leg lift according to your capability and pain threshold, ensuring that the exercise strengthens the muscles without causing pain or discomfort.

Bridging Exercise 

The bridge involves a patient lying on their back with hips and knees bent and their feet flat on the surface they are laying on. From here, the patient then engages their core and hip muscles to lift their hips upwards. Physiotherapists can guide the movement from the initial lift to the final position, ensuring that your spine is aligned appropriately and the hips do not sag or lift too high. They can also provide tactile feedback and adjustments to improve your form, helping to enhance the activation of the gluteal and lower back muscles. This personalized guidance helps ensure the exercise is both safe and effective, particularly for individuals with existing back issues.

Conclusion

Physiotherapy for lower back pain includes multiple targeted exercises to alleviate discomfort and strengthen the lower back and core muscles. These exercises work to enhance flexibility and prevent future pain episodes, making them a crucial component of recovery and maintenance for individuals suffering from lower back pain.
The physiotherapists at Bridgwater Physiotherapy have worked with numerous patients that have had varying degrees of low back pain. Our clinic provides personalized treatment plans with a team of experienced physiotherapists focusing on pain relief, muscle strengthening, and long-term back health. Contact Us Today!