(Note- There are many different types of lower back injuries that cause pain and discomfort. The following article are exercises that have bought me and my clients relief in the past. Please consult your doctor first before exercising with acute or chronic back pain.)
When I felt pain in my lower back after a set of deadlifts, I ignored it like any gym meathead would, hoping over time the pain would go away on its own so I could continue crushing the weights.
However, the more I ignored it, the worse it became, to the point where lifting, playing with my children and sleeping didn’t happen at all. The pain had taken over my life and I was all consumed by it.
Has you could imagine, I was a real joy to be around.
When you’re in pain, you think you’re the only person who’s suffering but that’s not the case with low back pain. 80% of the population of the US, at some point in their lives will suffer from chronic or acute low back pain. And about 2% to 10% of people who experience low back pain develop chronic low back pain.
A lot people choose to go under the knife to fix their back because their doctor recommended this as the best course of action. However, this doesn’t always work, as shown by this study.
Furthermore, I’ve encountered many people who have had multiple back surgeries and they’re still in tremendous pain and their quality of life is severally reduced. I’m not saying back surgery is bad, however, you should consider all your options before going under the knife because surgery should be a last resort.
However, your first point of call is consulting a doctor or physical therapist (depending on how serious it is) who specializes in treating low back pain and doing what they tell you, unless of course they tell you to plank.
Because planking sucks. 🙂
And then you can mix and match the suggestions below to get your back feeling better and back to living your life without being in pain all the time.
Note- Some of these will work and others will not because you’re all different. Mix and match the suggestions below to find which works best for you.
Taking a slow deep breath and exhaling slowly has an immediate calming effect, helping reduce your stress level and your pain. The deep belly breathing will oxygenate your blood which in turn releases endorphins, while also decreasing the release of stress hormones.
Which means your less likely to blow gasket and punch a hole in the wall.
Try the two exercises below which have helped me and my clients during their times of pain.
A. Static back.
Lie on your back, with both legs bent at right angles with your feet resting on a chair or couch. Rest your arms at shoulder level and let your low back settle in to the floor.
Breathe in through your nose and exhale of your mouth, letting your stomach rise and fall with each inhale and exhale. Do this for five to ten minutes only focusing on your breath.
B. 90-90 Hip lift with hip shift
Lie on your back with your feet flat on the wall and your knees and hips bent at a 90-degree angle and place a soft small ball between your knees.
Then inhale through the nose and breathe out your mouth while performing a pelvic tilt so your tailbone is slightly off the floor, but your lower back remains on the floor.
While maintaining the pelvic tilt, shift your left hip down and right knee up until it’s higher than the left knee. Do 10 breaths while maintaining this position. Trust me, you’ll feel the magic.
A long time ago, it was common practice to prescribe complete rest to back pain patients. But (with hindsight being 20/20) when you think about it, is silly because getting weaker and not promoting healing blood flow doesn’t help anybody.
However, walking is a safe exercise for lower back pain because it doesn’t involve any twisting of the torso or any bending forwards or backwards which can worsen the symptoms of back pain
Studies have shown that light to moderate aerobic exercise such as walking have been shown to reduce the symptoms of lower back pain. But more importantly walking reduces the fear avoidance of moving while you’re in pain. (1)
Furthermore, walking is great stress reliever because it stimulates the brain to release serotonin and endorphins, that help you feel better physically and mentally.
What are you waiting for? Strap on a pair of shoes and go for a walk.
Original Strength founded by Tim Anderson and Geoff Neupert and its premise is everybody can move as God intended, no matter your age or injury history. They came up with the 5 resets that help you restore your natural in-built operating system.
- Head nods
When doing these exercises (for the most part) you remain of the floor which lessens the threat to your nervous system because you have the stability of being on the ground. Less threats to your nervous system means less pain.
And as discussed in point 2, there’s huge fear avoidance of movement when it come to back pain and being down of the floor will help you overcome this.
These exercises may seem a little strange, but after doing them for a couple of weeks your back and body will feel better. Don’t worry, you’ll be the coolest person at the gym. Just brush off those stares like water off a ducks back.
C. Head nods
4. Body weight stretches
Stretching and reducing the tension in muscles supporting the spine is important because muscular tension can worsen your pain. It’s imperative that you not stretch into pain with any of these exercises because that defeats the purpose.
To enhance these stretches, inhale and exhale as described in point one.
A. Child’s pose
Note- If flexing your spine aggravates your pain, please don’t do this exercise.
B. Morning stretch
Stand up straight and put the palms of your hands on your low back. Arch your whole back (look up at the ceiling) while feeling a stretch in your abdominals and shoulders. Return to starting position and relax. Repeat 5 times.
C. Hip Flexor stretch
Get into a half-kneeling position, front ankle underneath your front knee and back knee underneath your back hip. Stand up nice and tall, engage your gluteus muscle on the back leg and feel a stretch in the front of your hip. Do two sets of 60 seconds on both sides.
5. Reinforcing better posture
If you’re sitting for long periods of time, get up and perform stretches A and B below. This prevents you from slouching and makes you more aware of your posture. Please don’t worry about the weird looks you’re getting from Janice in accounting. She’s just jealous.
A. Sit on your sit bones
To find your sit bones, feel with your hands underneath your bottom and find the two boney protrusions at the base of your pelvis. Once you have done that, rock your pelvis slightly forward to bring yourself into neutral spine.
Now, doesn’t that feel better?
B. Doorway chest stretch
C. When it’s your bed time
Sleep on your back. This will improve your posture because your spine gets support from the bed, and it also puts your shoulders, head and neck in a better position, helping to minimize your back pain.
You must take a proactive approach to back pain because taking it lying down is not an option. When everything in your body is screaming at you to stop, that’s when you need to find pain free ways to move.
Movement is medicine. I hope after this, you’ve found the right dose.