Low Back Pain
Low back pain is something most of us have struggled with at one point in our lives. Whether this has come from a sports-related injury, lifting something improperly, or sedentary behaviors and postural abnormalities, people struggle with low back pain every day.
Low back pain can come from many different sources, however one of the most common things I see clinically, is that people end up with low back pain from muscular imbalances related to inflexibilities and decreased strength in major core and spine stabilizers. There is an infinite amount of information we could discuss on this topic; however this is a beginner’s program that addresses flexibility, spinal mobility, neural mobility and core stability to help with low back pain.
- Start on all fours, with a straight spine. This is a position we will call spinal neutral. Lightly brace your core by pulling your belly button towards your spine, looking between your hands and flattening your back.
- Move into the flexed spinal position, by tucking your tailbone underneath you and rounding your back above.
- Move into the extended spinal position, by arching your back and looking forward.
- Complete this exercise slowly, 10 times in each direction.
Child’s Pose – Targets latissimus dorsi and quadratus lumborum muscles.
- Keep your hands forward, and rock back to your heels. Hold this position for 30 seconds, and try to perform deep breaths while doing this.
- Bring your hands to one side of your body, rock back to your heels, and hold for 30 seconds. Repeat on the opposite side.
Pigeon Pose/Stretch – Targets gluteus maximus and piriformis muscles.
- Start on all fours, bring your foot forward and try to get your shin and knee to touch the ground.
- Rock back towards your back leg, and try to move your hands forward to get a stretch in the back of the hip and low back region.
- Hold for 30 seconds, and repeat twice on each side.
Lower Trunk Rotation with Variations
- Start lying on your back, knees bent, with your arms out to the side. Drop your knees to one side, and hold for 3-5 seconds, then switch. Repeat 10 times on each side.
- To bias the gluteal, quadratus lumborum, and piriformis areas, start in the figure – 4 position, then drop your legs to one side. Hold for 3-5 seconds, and repeat 10 times on each side.
- Your upper back should maintain contact with the floor throughout the stretch.
Sciatic Nerve Glide
The sciatic nerve exits through your buttock region and travels down your leg, branching off to supply nerve innervation to the muscles within the leg. Often when people have “sciatica” or sciatic nerve irritation, they will feel a deep pain in the buttock, that sometimes radiates down the leg and can cause sharp/shooting/numb/tingling sensations. By performing sciatic nerve glides, you help promote good mobility of the nerve within the tissues it passes through.
- Start seated, kick your leg out straight, point your toes to the ceiling, and look up. Hold for 1 second, then point your toes down, and look down.
- Repeat this motion 10 times in each direction, on each side.
Transverse Abdominis (TA) Bracing
Your transverse abdominis is a deep core muscle in your lower abdomen that is not only a major stabilizer for your core, but also for your spine. Unfortunately, this is also one of the first muscle areas to shut down when someone has low back pain, while it is also one of the most important muscles to keep active. This exercise will help you locate your transverse abdominis, while also learning how to contract it with daily activities.
- While lying on your back with your knees bent, place your hands gently on your lower abdomen.
- Lightly pull your belly button in, gently flatten your back, and you should feel your TA “swell” into your hands. Make sure you remain breathing while you do this, and avoid holding your breath.
- Hold this for 5 seconds, working up to a 10 second hold, and repeat 10 times.
Core Stabilization Exercises
- While on all fours, contract your core by bringing your belly button towards your spine, and keeping a straight back, lift your opposite arm and opposite leg. When you do this, your spine should not twist. Repeat 10 times on each side.
- Need an extra challenge? Place a PVC pipe horizontally on your back, and perform the same exercise, while trying to keep the PVC from falling.
- While lying on your back, contract your core, keeping your back flat against the floor. Extend your opposite arm and leg, and only go as far as you can, while maintaining contact with your low back on the floor. Repeat 10 times on each side.