You’re not alone. Around 80% of people experience lower back pain at some point. The primary causes are typically poor posture, prolonged sitting, and weak supporting muscles (core, glutes, hips).
Just like it’s taken time for your pain to develop and posture to slouch, it’s going to take awhile to correct them. There are no quick fixes, you’ll need to be diligent about doing the exercises below, remain patient, and commit to your routine.
Note: the following drills are meant to improve those with chronic pain due to sitting, stiffness, and poor posture, not for those with an acute injury, spinal problem, or herniated disc.
3 STRETCHES TO IMPROVE POSTURE
Doorway Chest Stretch
The primary result of sitting all day with poor posture is that your shoulders begin to round forward, thus putting more stress on your back. So you should aim to pull them back by stretching your chest and front of your shoulders.
Using a doorway (or just a wall for one arm at a time), spread your arms and step forward enough so that you feel a stretch across the front of your upper body.
Raise/lower the position of your arms to stretch different angles.
This exercise accomplishes 2 things: it stretches your chest/collarbone and it strengthens the muscles in your upper back that hold your posture. This is my go-to move whenever I’m feeling stiff.
Floor Slides: start with these before progressing to the wall.
Lie on your back with your knees bent, feet flat on the ground.
Press lower back into the ground and don’t allow it to lift up.
Start with arms overhead (elbows start shoulder-height) and try to keep back of arms in contact with the ground. If contact is easy, press into the ground.
Slowly slide arms upwards overhead, keeping back of arms and lower back in contact with ground entire time. Return back down and repeat for 5-10 slides.
Wall Slides: once floor slides become easy, progress to a standing position against the wall
Start facing away from wall with feet shoulder width apart and about 1-2 feet away from the wall. Knees slightly bent.
Keep lower back and head pressed against the wall.
Just like floor slides, press back of arms against wall and slowly move upwards while keeping contact with the wall (or attempting to!)
For more difficulty, sit in the wedge of the floor/wall with your butt up against wall.
Hip Flexor Kneeling Lunge
The more you sit, the tighter the front of your hips (hip flexors) become. The tighter these are, the more your body begins to hinge forward at the waist, thus pulling your posture forward.
Begin in a comfortable kneeling position, keeping chest up in good posture.
Slowly shift weight forward onto your front leg until you feel a stretch in the front hip of your back leg.
3 STRENGTH EXERCISES TO SUPPORT LOWER BACK
A stronger core is your first line of defense against lower back pain. But rather than sit-ups and crunches that flex your spine, you want to do planks in order to improve your core stability.
Strong glutes and hamstrings are imperative to supporting your lower back and keeping your posture upright. The stronger your glutes, the less you'll hinge forward at the waist.
Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the ground.
With the flat of your feet and your heels, push into the ground and thrust your hips upward.
Squeeze your glutes hard and pause at the top.
Try with one leg for a more challenging option.
Channel your inner superhero to strengthen your glutes and lower back with Supermans.
Lie face down with your arms in front of you.
Lift both legs, arms, and chest off the ground until you're balancing on your just your stomach.
Hold for 3-5 sec at a time, focusing on squeezing glutes and shoulder blades.
Also try Swimmers, where you are only lifting one arm and the opposite leg at a time.