The heel walkout is easy to do at home on a yoga mat on the floor, or on a very firm bed surface if it’s difficult for you to get on and off the floor. Start by lying on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the surface. Tilt your pelvis up toward the ceiling then tilt it back down. Stop when you find a pain-free posture, what’s called your neutral spine. Once you find your neutral spine, bring in your navel to engage your abdominal muscles and slowly move your feet away from your body by taking small steps, while keeping your spine stable. Then slowly move your feet back toward your body. This helps you develop a stronger core in a pain-free posture.
Many people with low back pain have hamstring tightness on the back side of their thigh. This happens because the muscles on the back of the thigh tend to pull on the pelvis and spine if they are tight. One safe way to stretch the hamstring is, while you’re on your back, find your neutral spine position. Pull one leg up, bending it at the hip and knee to 90 degrees. Use two hands to hold up your thigh just above the knee and then straighten your leg until you feel a stretch in your hamstring muscles along the back of your thigh. Hold for 15 to 30 seconds while keeping your neutral spine position, then repeat with the other leg.
This is an exercise to get your back to move in a direction in which it typically doesn’t bend, called backward bending. This exercise has a pumping effect, where it pumps spinal fluid away from the nerve roots in the back. For people who have disc issues, such as bulging or herniated discs, this is a very useful exercise. To start, lie on your stomach or put your hands on the floor. Push yourself up so you are bending your spine backward. You can push yourself all the way up or make this a small exercise and go halfway. A note of caution if you’re arthritic or have spine mobility issues: This might not be the right exercise for you, so consult with your physician or physical therapist first.
Planks are exercises that strengthen your abdominals and back muscles. Start by coming down on your knees, leaning forward on your forearms. Find a position where your spine is comfortable, then straighten out your legs. Keep your head facing down, your behind up with a slight curve in your spine, and hold this position for 15 to 30 seconds.
This exercise is easy to do while sitting, and it’s good for opening up the chest and the midback. Start with a good sitting posture. Now imagine you’re sitting in a door frame. Bring your hands together in front of you, then bring them overhead, turning your palms toward the ceiling with your fingertips touching. Move your palms along the top of the “door frame,” then down the side of the door frame. When your hands come down to your side, bring them back together again in front of your chest.