Low back pain (LBP) is common. Way too common. Treating it is difficult as there are often many factors contributing to your pain. The strategies I am going to share are meant to improve your situation. At worst, they should do nothing, meaning they will not make it worse.
All of the strategies will have multiple videos to help guide you through the process. These are strategies I have used with both clients and patients to not just manage, but ultimately resolve their LBP.
I am going to go over each in more detail, but the 5 strategies are:
Supine deloading - I will also share how to deload in sitting and standing
Core stabilization - it’s not so much what you do but HOW you do it
Glute exercises - in general, when the glutes are strong there are less issues with the knees and low back
Hip mobility - when the hips are tight, there tends to be more movement through the low back to compensate
Hip hinge - poor awareness and understanding of how to properly bend at the hips will routinely flare up the back
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.
Most people attempt to stretch the hip flexor incorrectly by moving too far forward and arching the low back too much. If this is you, watch the video. The key is the setup.
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.
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.
Mobilizing the first rib is not something many people know about which is unfortunate. The first rib is right under your collarbone and can be elevated which causes all sorts of issues for the neck and shoulder(s). Check out the video to see how to mobilize the fist rib.
This is an excellent movement for mobilizing and stretching the hips. Start with the first position and progress to the others as needed. Remember, focus on a mild-to-moderate intensity in the hip and glute area when performing these. Start in a pushup position. Bring one leg forward to the outside of the arm. In the second video, bend the elbow and try to get it as close to the floor as you can. In the third video, rotate the arm up towards the ceiling. Make sure to rotate the body, not just the arm. One way to help do this is to keep your eyes on your hand. The arm should not travel where the eyes cannot follow it.
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 you have been through a certain experience, you will undoubtedly have some practical advice to share with someone going through the same situation.
That experience allows you to speak with a voice that resonates greater than someone who lacks this experience.
I work with people all the time that have injuries and associated pain and other symptoms. I have become very skilled at helping these people, even though, I have suffered only minor injuries to this point in my life.
If you truly want to understand someone's situation, walk a mile in their shoes, right?
It seems simple enough. If you have muscle tightness, the remedy is to stretch said muscles.
Simple. Easy. Done deal. Moving on.
Not so fast.
There may be a better way. An approach that, on the surface, seems ludicrous and absurd.
No disrespect for these health care professionals, but their evaluations skills are average at best. And, they often do not have the time to truly evaluate someone even if there skills are not subpar.
And, treating pain with meds only attempts to deal with your symptoms. It DOES NOT deal with the underlying problem that is causing the pain.