Four exercises to prevent a pinched nerve in the lower back

A pinched nerve in the lower back can often be traced to degenerative changes in the spine. For instance, a spinal nerve root can become pressured or “pinched” by inflamed or displaced tissue, such as a disc, bone, joint, cartilage, muscle or tendon. Many people wonder if this condition can be prevented.

While there is no sure-fire way to prevent age-related spinal degeneration, there are some steps you can take to make your spine more resistant to its effects. One approach that is commonly recommended by spine specialists is regular physical activity. More specifically, you can perform targeted stretches and exercises to strengthen your back, core and abdominal muscles, which provide support and stability to your spine.

Exercises for a healthy spine

Here are four easy-to-learn, low-impact exercises that can promote good spine health and help prevent a pinched nerve in your lower back:

  1. Bridge. To strengthen the muscles in your back, buttocks and legs, lie on your back with your knees bent and spaced shoulder-width apart. Using your back and buttock muscles, gently lift your hips while keeping your shoulders planted firmly on the ground. Hold for five seconds. Perform three sets of 10 repetitions.
  2. Alternative squat. Traditional squats can stress your spine, but this variation can help you safely build strength in your core and leg muscles. Sit on the edge of a chair. Cross your arms over your chest. Squeeze your buttocks muscles, push through your legs and rise to a standing position while keeping your neck and back aligned. Slowly lower yourself back to a seated position. Perform three sets of 10 repetitions.
  3. Hip crossover stretch. To gently stretch and release tension in your piriformis (a small muscle located deep within your buttocks), lie on your back with your knees bent and spaced shoulder-width apart. Cross your right ankle over your left knee and use your hands to pull your right knee toward your left shoulder. Hold for 30 seconds. Repeat three times on each side.
  4. Abdominal bracing. You can improve your spinal stability by systematically contracting your abdominal muscles. Lie on your back with your knees bent and spaced shoulder-width apart. Lift your left knee up to your left hand and push while providing resistance with your hand. Hold for five seconds. Perform 20 times alternating sides.

How to exercise safely

Be sure to talk with a physician before starting this or any other workout program. A physician can confirm that the activities you have in mind are appropriate for you.

If a painful pinched nerve in your lower back is interfering with your ability to exercise, contact Laser Spine Institute. We can provide a free MRI review* to determine if you are a candidate for our minimally invasive surgery.

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