Lower back pain cause, symptoms and treatment with 6 exercises

Lower back pain is a common complaint seen by physiotherapists. This is because you use your back for everything, which can put a lot of force on it. In addition, our lifestyle of sitting a lot and sometimes not exercising much does not help. 

 Fortunately, you can often treat lower back pain yourself with the right exercises. 

 Based on the most common symptoms of lower back pain, I will explain what causes your lower back pain and how you can treat it yourself with exercises. 

 Most forms of lower back pain go away on their own with a little help. 

 So keep on reading. 

Lower back pain cause, symptoms and treatment with 6 exercises

The anatomy of the lower back

Your lower back is formed by 5 vertebrae, called the lumbar vertebrae. The vertebrae are covered with a layer of cartilage. There is an intervertebral disc between the vertebrae. This intervertebral disc consists of a soft jelly with a hard cartilage edge around it. 

 A nerve also leaves the spinal cord between 2 vertebrae. These nerve pathways together form the sciatic nerve, which travels through your buttock into your leg and into your foot. 

 Furthermore, your vertebrae are held together by the joint capsule and the muscles around your back. 

 We distinguish 2 types of muscles in your back. Muscles that stabilize your back and allow it to move and muscles that help you lift heavy things. 

 Your back is designed for a lot of moving, walking, and lifting. However, to be able to do this properly and without pain, he must be strong and flexible. If one of the structures described above is no longer healthy, this can lead to pain. 

 I will now explain to you, based on the symptoms of lower back pain, what the cause of your back pain may be, so that you know which exercises you can and cannot do. 

lower back pain

Lower left or right side back pain

The most common symptom of lower back pain is pain on the left or right side of the lower back. The pain often occurs suddenly after throwing out your back when making an unexpected movement. You feel the pain low in your lower back on the left or right side. You can feel the pain directly against your spine or at the attachment to your pelvis. 

The pain is caused by limited mobility of your back or by an overloaded/strained back muscle. When it “shoots in your back” a joint in your back becomes stuck, so to speak. The joint no longer moves smoothly, causing the muscles around it to become overloaded and the cartilage in the joint to become irritated. Both can cause the pain experienced and both can be remedied in the same way. 

The treatment consists of improving the mobility of your back, making the joint more flexible again. You also need to train the muscles in your back so that they become strong again and can handle the load again. 

To treat nagging pain in your lower back, perform exercises 1, 2, 4, and 5. 

 

Lower left or right side back pain causes and treatment with exercises

Lower back pain radiating to the hip, buttock, calf and foot

Radiating low back pain is usually caused by a pinched nerve in the back. The entrapment can have various causes. This is when the radiation goes further than the knee. When it stays above the knee, it’s more likely to be radiation from a trigger point in one of the muscles in your lower back.

 The most common cause is a joint, which is limited in mobility. This reduces the space in the joint, causing the nerve that runs through the joint to become pinched. The radiation area differs depending on the level of restraint. In this case, the pain and radiation often become worse with more strain on the back. The back pain is worse than the radiation and the radiation stays above the knee. You can relieve these lower back pain symptoms with exercises 1, 2, 4, and 5. 

 Furthermore, cramped back muscles can also cause radiation into your leg. For the hip and buttock, these can be the gluteal muscles, for the upper leg the small stabilizing back muscles, and for the lower leg the piriformis that presses on a nerve. This is a form of sciatica, which you have to treat accordingly.

 Another cause for these symptoms is a herniated disc. With a herniated disc, the leg pain is worse than the back pain, sitting makes the pain worse and standing and walking are less sensitive. The leg pain is mainly experienced in the calf and foot. Read all about a herniated disc in the lower back on our special page. 

Lower back pain radiating to the hip, buttock, calf and foot

Lower back pain when walking, lying down and standing

Lower back pain when walking, lying down and standing is mainly caused by reduced strength and coordination of the lower back muscles. When walking and standing, there is relatively little tension on the large back muscles and the small stabilizing back muscles have to do their work. When these muscles do not do their job sufficiently, the large muscles have to compensate and they can quickly become overloaded. 

This allows you to experience a kind of band feeling around your back when standing for a long time especially when strolling. When you sit down for a while it quickly recedes. This is also the problem when lying down, but now it is mainly because the vertebrae are put under more strain when lying down if the small back muscles do not function properly. 

You can relieve these lower back pain symptoms by doing all the exercises stated below. 

Lower back pain when walking, lying down and standing causes and treatment with exercises

Lower back pain above the buttocks left or right side

The cause for lower back pain above the buttocks can have two causes. The most common cause is an overuse of the quadratus lumborum muscles.

This muscle runs from your lower back to the top of your pelvic bone. When your lower back is stiff due to a lack of coördination of the multifidus muscle, your quadratus lumborum compensates for this. It stiffens the muscles, causing pain around its attachment right above your buttocks.

You can relieve these lower back pain symptoms by doing exercises 1, 4, and 5.

Lower back pain above buttocks left or right side cause and treatment with exercises

Pain in lower abdomen and back

When the vertebrae in the lower back are limited in mobility, this can cause irritation of the vertebra, which can radiate to the lower abdomen or stomach. The pain is then felt in the back and abdomen on one side and seems to be somewhat connected. In addition, the abdominal pain also depends on the amount of back pain. The more back pain, the more stomach pain. The pain also worsens with movement and decreases with rest. 

 You can relieve these lower back pain symptoms with exercises 1, 2, 4, and 5. 

 However, nagging pain in the lower abdomen and back can also be caused by organs in the abdomen. In this case, the symptoms are often more constant and are related to the functioning of the organ. The pain is felt in de adomen first and later in the lower back.

For example, if the pain is caused by the intestines, you will notice that the pain increases when you have to go to the toilet. When you have been, the pain is less. In this case, the back pain does not depend on certain movements. 

 If you suspect that the nagging pain in your lower back and abdomen is caused by organs, it is best to contact your doctor for further investigation. 

Pain in lower abdomen and back cause and treatment with exercises

Lower back pain that radiates to the groin

Lower back pain that radiates to the groin can be caused in two ways, but the treatment is the same for both ways. 

 The first possible cause is a joint restriction at the L1 level. This is the first lumbar vertebra. The nerve that leaves the back here supplies the area around the hip head in your hip joint. Hip pain, such as hip osteoarthritis, causes pain in the groin. 

 A second possible cause is a joint restriction in the lower back. A stiff lower back also limits the mobility of the hip. This puts too much pressure on the hip head, causing it to become irritated along with the surrounding cartilage. This irritation causes radiance in the groin. 

 You can relieve these lower back pain symptoms with all the exercises stated below.

Lower back pain that radiates to the groin

lower back pain when standing up from sitting position

Lower back pain when sitting and standing up is usually caused by stiff or irritated back muscles and sometimes by a mobility limitation in one of the joints in the lower back. 

 These can be a bit stiff, which puts more pressure on them when sitting. When you then get up, the vertebrae have to realign again, which creates even more pressure temporarily. When you’re standing straight and start moving again the pain mostly disappears.  

 Another possible cause is that an intervertebral disc in your lower back is irritated. When sitting, the most pressure is placed on the intervertebral discs, especially in your lower back. This can cause pain and some radiance towards the buttocks. When you then get up, there is temporarily even more pressure on the intervertebral disc. If you then stand for a while, the pain disappears because the intervertebral disc experiences less pressure. 

 You can relieve these lower back pain symptoms with all the exercises stated below.

Lower back pain relief with 6 exercises

Low back pain symptoms can often be remedied with the right exercises. Above I have already discussed which exercises are best to do for which symptoms. 

 I will now explain to you how to perform the exercises and what exactly they do. The exercises are aimed at improving the mobility of your back and strengthening the back muscles. 

 An important aspect that is often forgotten is improving the coordination of the back muscles. This means they work better together and the back muscles perform the task they were made for. 

 We also stretch the hamstrings and sciatic nerve for maximum flexibility of your back. 

 In addition to exercises, you can use heat packs, and sometimes an anti-inflammatory cream also helps against the pain. 

Lower back pain cause, symptoms and treatment with 6 exercises

Lower back pain exercise 1: Improve the mobility of your back

The purpose of the first exercise is to improve the mobility of your lower back. By making your back more flexible, the load on your muscles and joints decreases, reducing your lower back pain.

This exercise is good for all lower back pain causes.

The exercise goes like this:

  • Lie on your back
  • Bend your knees and put your feet on the floor
  • Put your arms sideways on the floor
  • Rotate your knees to the side as far as possible and keep your shoulders on the floor
  • Hold for 10 seconds and then turn the other way

You can also find the execution of the exercise in this video.

Repeat the exercise 10 times on each side and do this 3 times a day. You will notice that this makes your back more flexible.

Lower back pain exercise 1: Improve the mobility of your back

Lower back pain exercise 2: Improve extension of your back

The second exercise focuses on improving your lower back extension. Stretching your back is especially difficult with osteoarthritis and a herniated disc.

Your back also becomes less stiff by improving the stretching, and your back muscles are less stressed. In addition, the pressure on the nerve reduces, which gives immediate pain relief in hernia complaints.

You can do the exercise for any cause of lower back pain. With spinal stenosis, it may be that your pain increases. In that case, it is better to skip the exercise.

The exercise goes like this:

  • Stand with your hands behind your back, pressing your index fingers on the painful area in your spine.
  • Hold this pressure and then bend backward as far as possible.
  • Repeat this 10 times and do this several times a day.

Watch the video for the exact implementation.

Lower back pain Exercise 2: Improve extension of your back

Lower back pain exercise 3: Improving the bending of your back

The third exercise focuses on improving lower back flexion. With lower back pain, especially the lowest part of the lower back, is stiff when bending. By improving this, you can often relieve the symptoms of osteoarthritis and spinal stenosis. It’s an excellent lower back pain stretching exercise.

When there is a herniated disc or acute low back pain, this exercise gives more complaints initially, and I advise you not to do it.

The exercise goes like this:

  • Lie on your back
  • Pull both knees to your chest
  • Hold this for 20 seconds
  • Repeat this 3 times

In the photo, you can see how to perform the exercise.

To stretch your back even more, you can try to rotate your knees in circles. It allows you to stretch the stiffest spots in your lower back even better.

Lower back pain exercise 3: Improve the bending of your back

Lower back pain exercise 4: Improve the stability of your lower back

The fourth lower back pain exercise improves the stability of your lower back. The exercise trains the small back muscles to work better together and react faster. These muscles often function insufficiently in people with chronic lower back pain but also after acute back pain.

Therefore, the exercise works best for people with acute lower back pain, chronic back pain, and a herniated disc.

The exercise goes like this:

  • Lie on your back with your legs bent
  • Cross your arms on your chest
  • Now lift your pelvis off the ground
  • Hold this for 10 seconds
  • Repeat 3 times

The exercise can also be seen in this video.

Perform the exercise twice a day. When the basic execution becomes too easy, you can perform the exercise with one leg extended. Also, hold this for 10 seconds on each side and repeat 3 times. You can then build up the exercise to 15 seconds.

Lower back pain exercise 4: Improve the stability of your lower back

Lower back pain exercise 5: Improving lower back strength

The fifth lower back pain exercise focuses on improving the strength of your lower back. In addition to muscles that stabilize your back, you also have muscles that make your back stronger and help with bending and lifting. The exercise helps with all types of lower back pain.

The exercise goes like this:

  • Lie on your stomach
  • Put your arms bent in front of your head
  • Now lift your upper body and your arms
  • Repeat 10 times
  • Do this 3 times in a row

If it gets easier, you can also try 15 or 20 reps.

Lower back pain exercise 5: Improve lower back strength

Lower back pain exercise 6: Squats

The sixth and final exercise for lower back pain is doing squats. Squats is an exercise that trains the back muscles, glutes, and leg muscles.

Strong leg muscles and glutes ensure that your back is less heavily loaded and, therefore, less likely to hurt. It is a heavy exercise that you can do better if your back pain has already decreased slightly and the previous back pain exercises are already a bit easier.

The exercise works for any kind of back pain.

the exercise goes like this:

  • Stand with your legs shoulder-width apart
  • Stretch your arms forward
  • Bend your knees and bring your buttocks back as if you were sitting on a chair
  • Repeat 10 times
  • Do this 3 times

You can also find the execution of the exercise in the photo.

When the exercise becomes easier, you can increase the number of repetitions to 15-20 and eventually start doing it with weight.

Lower back pain exercise 6: Squats

Conclusion

With these exercises and tips, you should be able to greatly reduce your back pain. The most important thing is to overcome your fear and train you in the right way.

If you have any question left you can send me an e-mail.

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