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Exercises for lower back pain

If you suffer from lower back pain, the NHS says people who remain active are likely to recover more quickly.

Activity might start with walking around the house to a stroll to the shops - or some formal exercise moves.

Your doctor may recommend an exercise programme of around eight sessions over up to 12 weeks.

This is likely to be in a group supervised by a qualified instructor.

Stretching or activities that place additional strain on the back are discouraged.

So what are good or bad exercises for lower back pain?

How exercise helps lower back pain

Although your instincts tells you to rest, getting moving is good for your back. Exercises for lower back pain can strengthen back, stomach and leg muscles. These help support your spine, which in turn can help relieve back pain.

Always seek medical advice before starting exercises for back pain.

What's right and wrong for you will depend on the cause and severity of your lower back pain.

Some mild discomfort at the start of exercises should disappear as muscles become stronger. However, if pain is worse than mild and lasts longer than 15 minutes during the exercise, stop exercising and seek medical advice.

Aerobic exercise

Aerobic exercise like walking, swimming and cycling may all help reduce back pain. Start with short sessions and build up over time. If your back is hurting, try swimming, where the water supports your body. Avoid any strokes that twist your body.

Partial crunches

Partial crunches can help strengthen your back and stomach muscles. Lie with knees bent and feet flat on a mat. Cross your arms over your chest or put hands behind your neck. Tighten stomach muscles and raise your shoulders off the floor. Breathe out as you raise your shoulders. Don't lead with your elbows or use arms to pull your neck off the floor. Hold for a second, then slowly lower back down. Repeat eight to 12 times. To prevent excessive stress on your lower back, keep your feet, tailbone and lower back in contact with the mat at all times.

Hamstring stretches

Lie on your back and bend one knee. Loop a towel under the ball of your foot. Straighten your knee and slowly pull back on the towel. You should feel a gentle stretch down the back of your leg. Hold for at least 15 to 30 seconds. Do two to four times for each leg.

Wall sits

Stand 10 to 12 inches from the wall, then lean back until your back is flat against the wall. Slowly slide down until your knees are slightly bent, pressing your lower back into the wall. Count to 10, then carefully slide back up the wall. Repeat eight to 12 times.

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