Exercise and staying active may relieve low back pain and can help speed your recovery. Stretching and strengthening your stomach, back, and leg muscles helps make them less susceptible to injury that can cause back pain. Strong stomach, back, and leg muscles also better support your spine, reducing pressure on your spinal discs. This may help prevent disc injury.
Aerobic exercises—such as walking, swimming, or walking in waist-deep water—also help you maintain a healthy back. Aerobic exercise makes your heart and other muscles use oxygen more efficiently. Muscles that frequently receive oxygen-rich blood stay healthier.
Exercises that may help reduce or prevent low back pain include:
- Aerobic exercise, to condition your heart and other muscles, maintain health, and speed recovery.
- Strengthening exercises, focusing on your back, stomach, and leg muscles.
- Stretching exercises, to keep your muscles and other supporting tissues flexible and less prone to injury.
Some exercises can aggravate back pain. If you have low back pain, avoid:
- Straight leg sit-ups.
- Bent leg sit-ups or partial sit-ups (curl-ups) when you have acute back pain.
- Lifting both legs while lying on your back (leg lifts).
- Lifting heavy weights above the waist (standing military press or bicep curls).
- Toe touches while standing.
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