Strengthening the abdominal muscles, back muscles, pelvic floor, buttock, and thigh muscles can effectively help prevent and decrease back pain. It is recommended that the strengthening exercises be performed in a slow and controlled manner.
The strengthening poses can be held for 3 to 10 seconds and repeated 10 to 30 times. Breathe out during the exertion phase of the exercise and inhale as you relax. The following are suggested exercises for each of the major muscle groups mentioned:
- Pelvic Tilts (for abdominal muscles): The simplest way to learn the pelvic tilt is to lie on the back with knees bent, feet resting on the floor. Place your hand in the small of your back, and you will most likely notice a space between your back and the floor. Now try to flatten the lower part of the spine against the floor, so that you feel no space between your back and the floor. The buttocks should be relaxed in order to isolate the abdominals. The pelvic tilt can be performed while lying on your back, standing, on your hands and knees, or sitting.
- Arm and Leg Raises (for back muscles and buttock): Kneel on your hands and knees with a straight spine. Do a pelvic tilt to keep your pelvis stable and then lift your right arm and left leg to form a straight line with your spine. Pause in this position and then slowly lower your arm and leg. Alternate lifting the opposite arm and leg. If you have difficulty keeping your balance in this position, modify the exercise by performing only the leg or arm raises separately.
- Kegels (for pelvic floor muscles): To exercise the pelvic floor muscles, try to envision pulling the muscles of the vaginal area up and in towards your baby. You should not feel your buttocks, thighs, or abdominals tightening as you do this.
- Wall Squats (for abdominal muscles, buttock muscles, and thigh muscles): Stand with your head, shoulders, and back against a wall with your feet about 1 to 2 feet away from the wall. Press your lower back into the wall and squat as if you were going to sit down, with the knees approaching a 90-degree angle. Come back up slowly, keeping your back and buttocks in contact with the wall.