Help for your painful back

Here are some stretches and exercises to help ease your painful back. On this page, we'll deal with the lower back.

"Sway-back" - Excessive Lordosis

One of the most common problems is having too much forward curvature (concavity) in the lower back. It's caused by an unbalance between the strength of the back muscles and the strength of the abdominal muscles. The usual accompanying symptom is a big gut out front, but that's not always the case.

When it's a big gut, it's a big weight, pulling down on your front. So your lower-back muscles must constantly strain to keep you upright against the weight of that ponderous paunch.

What usually happens is that the lower-back muscles get so tight and inflexible that they make a more pronounced curve than is healthy in the lower back, while the belly muscles are too weak to counteract that tension. That's when you start to lean back as you walk, and lead with the belly.

The nerves coming out of the sides of the lower spine can suffer pinching and stretching, which in turn causes pain in the areas that those nerves service. So, in this condition, it's not uncommon to have

  • pain in the lower back,
  • pain in both sides of the butt, and even
  • pain going partway - or all the way - down both legs
  • also, pain in those places when you reach or carry something out in front of you or bend to put something on the floor.

If the pain subsides when you stand relaxed, with your arms down at your sides - as opposed to holding something out in front - then this is the page for you. See below.

Do the plank

This is a posture, more than an active exercise. It's very simple to do, but if you need it, then it's probably tougher than it looks. It is often very quick help for a painful back (a few days to see results).

  1. This works best on a padded mat or a carpeted floor.
  2. Get down on the floor, prone (belly down). Assume the push-up position.
  3. Support yourself on your forearms and your toes.
  4. The rest of your body is off the floor and is straight. Don't let your gut sag to the floor. Don't let your butt rise.
  5. Look at the floor between your hands, keeping your head in line with your body, in line with your legs.
  6. Hold that position, with all your weight supported on your toes and your forearms. No sagging or humping allowed.
  7. Aim for a minute, before you allow yourself to relax. If your core muscles are very de-conditioned, you'll notice yourself vibrating.
  8. Allow yourself to sag and rest for a minute, then back up on your toes and forearms for another minute.
  9. Do this when you rise in the morning, and just before you go to bed at night.
Watch the doofus video - a picture is worth about 350 words in this case.

You should notice an improvement in your painful back (lessening of lower-back, butt, and back-of-leg pain) in the first week, and it should all disappear within a month, assuming that that was your problem.

If weak or unbalanced core muscles was not the problem, you don't hurt anything by gently strengthening and balancing those muscles, so go ahead and give it an honest try for a few weeks. It takes almost no time from your day, and very little effort.

Here's the handy selection of our back-pain related pages on this Men's Health Tips (MHT) site:

The MHT page What the page is about

About Backache Relief

How and why your back hurts, and generally what you can do about it

Painful Lower Back (this page)

Simple stuff you can do to alleviate pain in your lower back area, as well as in your butt cheek(s) and down your leg(s)

Sore Upper Back
Upper backs hurt too, and here are some things that should help

Dislocated Rib
Mid-to-upper backs hurt too, and here are some things that should help

If this page wasn't where you wanted to be, then click here to return to the homepage from this painful back page.

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