Low back tightness is common. Feeling some tightness in the low back is not uncommon. The reasons why the back can be tight are numerous. Most do not even involve the low back itself.
Other problems in the body (weakness, tightness and poor mechanics when moving) tend to manifest as low back pain. Sneaky sneaky.
Because of this, stretching the low back directly is often not the solution.
Decreased shoulder range of motion.
Decreased neck range of motion.
Numbness and/or tingling in the arm or hand.
Any of these issues can have an origin within your thoracic spine. In case you are not familiar, the thoracic spine is that fancy piece of real estate between the neck and the low back.
LBP is complex. No one thing is going to resolve your back pain so stop looking for it. If you truly want to resolve your pain, you will have to tackle this on multiple levels. This means you will have to:
Let’s keep the holiday train rolling along. In Part 1, we discussed just getting moving more using dynamic warm-ups.
In Part 2, we are going to look at a bunch of different stretches that you can utilize to avoid ending up a complete ball of stress and knots come January.
Back on Thanksgiving morning, I started sharing different ways to help get people through the holiday season without having to give up exercise.
I even suggested that it is NOT a crazy thought to begin doing some extra activity or exercise during this time of year.
Understanding that many people would view that as crazy advice, I gave examples of things you can do.
Rows, pulldowns, pull-ups, and other movements that initiate movement through the scapula should make up a good amount of your upper body exercises in your program.
Rows and other horizontal pulling movements should outnumber both pressing movements and vertical pulling movements.
Single leg hamstring drops w/ ball.
For now, this one if the grand daddy of the hamstring drop family.
Set up with your feet under something that will not move. A dumbbell rack works great but not all are low enough to the ground.
I have used a standing hamstring curl machine to perform hamstring drops when the DB rack was not an option. See below.
Set up with your feet anchored under a dumbbell rack or other solid structure that will not move. Focus on bracing the abs, staying tall throughout the motion and not bending at the hips. Perform the hamstring drop with only one leg on the way down and both legs coming back up. Try to keep the emphasis on the hamstring, not the arms and shoulders. The upper body is definitely assisting the movement, but the hamstrings should be the focus. Enjoy.
This will punch your hamstrings right in the mouth. Set up with both knees bent, feet flat on the ground with a slider under one of your feet. Lift the foot that is not on the slider off the floor. Perform a single-leg bridge with the other leg. Once at the top of the motion, straighten the knee by sliding the foot away from the body. When the knee is extended, keep the hips on the floor, bend the knee and start again with the single-leg bridge.
This is a great alternative if using some attachment for the hands increases back pain or you find yourself pulling too much with the arms. Start by setting the pulley so it is around hip-height. Set the strap so it goes around the front of your hips. Set and brace your neutral spine position. Focus on keeping pressure through the heels and sitting back through the hips. To return to the start position, squeeze the glutes and push the hips forward. Avoid overextending the hips and straightening the body as this will cause you to lose your balance and fall back.
Stand in front of a bar (or another surface that is stable and will not move - kitchen counters also work great for this).
Walk the feet back, perform a hip hinge and pivot forward until you feel so resistance to the movement in the thoracic spine. Hold this position for 5-6 seconds. Repeat as needed.
NOTE: this may cause the back to crack. Not getting a crack in the back does not mean the movement was ineffective.
When I first started as a Physical Therapist, I used to get nervous any time one of my patients came in with any neck diagnosis.
I mean, its the neck. I could snap their spinal cord and the person would never be the same after that.
Now, that is not true at all, but that is what I thought. What a weirdo.
Once I worked with some of these patients, I started to realize there were commonalities to most of my patients. Once we fixed a few underlying issues, they got better.
Almost 100% of them.
After awhile, I started to look forward to treating any neck issue because the outcomes I was getting were so good.
The fact of the matter is, pain can bring each one of these situations to a grinding halt. Even worse, if the pain is left unchecked it usually gets worse and can even cause pain in different parts of the body.
It is not uncommon for a right ankle or knee issue to cause pain in the low back or the opposite hip and knee. I will explain how at a later date. The short answer as to how this happens is that everything is connected.
If life seems to always interfere with your training, this guide is for you. There are strategies you can apply right away whether you are new to exercise or are a grizzled, lifting maestro
One of the first steps in not bringing the temptation into the house. Unfortunately, the bad stuff is usually the easiest stuff to grab in a hurry and also things that you can eat a lot of before the brain triggers you to stop.
But, what do we do when we need a little something and we do not want to go face first into some ice cream, chips or cookies?
Check out this recipe.