When I was 26, after a year of ever increasing pain, I had to have back surgery. My L5 disk had herniated and was pressing on my spinal cord, creating tremendous pain through my back and down my right leg. During the episodes of acute pain and the subsequent rehabilitation I learned a lot about how to deal with back pain and how to prevent it from coming back.
There are two common causes for back pain: muscle spasms and disk problems. If you are having an acute muscle spasm (usually brought on by overuse), the best thing you can do is rest and massage until the muscle relaxes, at which point you can begin the strength exercises I'll talk about below. Making these muscles strong and putting them in regular work will help you avoid muscle spasms in the future.
If your problem is with the disks (pain down the leg is a tell-tale sign) then the very first exercise you should do is a very simple one: Lie down on your stomach on the floor with your hands next to your sides (a hard surface is very important). Seriously, that's it. What you're doing is putting the curve in your back, helping the disks move back where they belong. The next step is to prop yourself up on your elbows or a pillow, finally you can push yourself up on your hands to get the most arch in your back.
I can't tell you how much time I spent lying on my stomach before my surgery, it was hours and hours and at times was the only thing that gave me any relief at all.
If you aren't in acute pain, you can start to incorporate some low impact abdominal exercises. The first one you should learn is the pelvic tilt, it specifically targets the muscles of your lower abdomen and is not physically taxing. Start with one set of ten and gradually add more until you can can do three sets of 10.
When you are comfortable with this exercise and can do it without arching your back, you can start lifting your feet an inch off the floor with the tilts. Start very slowly and stop if you can't keep your lower back from coming off the floor.
The next low impact exercise you should add in is the "dead bug" exercise. This is a relatively easy exercise that will work your upper and lower abdominals together.
When you've built some strength from the dead bug exercise you can add in some curl ups for your upper abdominals. Again, start slow with a set of 10 and work up from there.
You might be ready at this time to add in some more intensive lower abdominal exercises like the one below. BUT- I recommend doing this exercise with a bent knee, not a straight leg like the video shows. That's really hard!
This last exercise works the upper and lower muscles of your back at once. As with the others start slowly and deliberately, begin with 10 repetitions before working your way up.
My current ab routine consists of 60 curl ups, 40 leg lifts, and 200 back extensions 3-4 times a week. I'll be doing these basically until I'm dead, since if I let my abs go I'm in pain. Period. Sometimes I'll add in some abdominal twists and a medicine ball for some added punch but I didn't do that until the early exercises built up my core enough so I don't hurt myself.
Okay? If you try these (for at least two months) and they don't work, then you can complain to me that your back hurts. If not, well...
Bonus pic of the day:
|Zombie polo player|