You want to avoid crunches and sit-ups, but it’s still vital to strengthen your core muscles to help stabilize the area and prevent flare-ups. “Target your core, both the front and back,” Metzl says. “Plank positions will optimally strengthen your midsection.” If you’re a newbie, start by holding a plank for 30 seconds, and eventually work your way up to a full minute. Placing your feet wider apart will make the plank easier.
Mistake #3: Skipping hip and butt stretches
If the pain is closer to your butt, it’s likely that the piriformis muscle is very tight and pinching the nerve. “Try stretches that target your butt and hips, like the pigeon pose and lizard pose in yoga,” Metzl says. “This will open up the muscles surrounding the nerve, releasing the pressure that causes pain.”
Mistake #4: Running wrong
Yes, cardio is great for heart health and weight loss, but it can lead to lower back pain if done incorrectly. “Things that induce compressions within your back, like landing on a hard surface repeatedly, will cause these things to worsen,” Metzl says. If you’re still bent on running, Metzl suggests shortening your stride a bit to lessen “bounce,” which lightens the impact on your back. Also, try running on surfaces more forgiving than pavement—like grass or your local track, which is likely made of a soft synthetic material—to make the impact less extreme.