Oh My Aching Back, Pt 3

hamstring-stretchOne of the best things you can do to avoid low back pain is to “prevent” back problems.  Proper lifting technique and pristine posture go a long way to keeping your back healthy and happy. Add a toned body, especially the areas around the spine, like the hip and abdomen, and barring any trauma or accident, your spine should support all your crazy activities for many years.  

Having strong muscles is important, but be aware of the tendency to overdue the abdominals.  This may not be you, but you know the type that have the over-developed, “look at my six-pack” attitude. If the back muscles are underworked and the front abdominal muscles are overworked, this can put strain on the back. Tight hamstring also can contribute to back pain by causing a posterior tilt of the pelvis, putting the back into a flattened position.

Here are some basic exercises for the low back.  Of course, don’t force or move toward pain.  Make sure you breath and avoid holding your breath.  If your pain is due to an injury or other trauma, wait until the severity of the pain has decreased before starting.  These exercises should not make your pain worse and the recommendation is up to 2-3 times daily.  By the way, these are all done in most yoga classes.

Hamstring stretch –  This can be performed in a variety of way.  Laying on the floor on your back, raise your leg and grab onto the back of the thigh, if possible.  If not, you can use a strap or belt.  With the lifted leg straight, bring it in the direction of your head.  Hold for one minute.  

Pelvic Tilt – Laying on your back with the knees bent and the feet on the floor, tilt your pelvis in both directions by moving your lower back toward and away from the floor using your belly muscles.  Then flatten the lower back toward the floor and hold 10 second.  Do 10 times.

Sphinx –  On your belly on the floor prop yourself on your elbows.  Make as much space at the lower back as possible by walking your feet way from you and lifting the belly and moving your chest away from your pelvis.  You can alter the height by bringing your elbows closer or away from the chest.  Hold 30 second and repeat 3-5 times.

Knee to chest –  Referred to as Apanasana in yoga, this pose does it all.  Many people in back pain l-o-v-e this pose.  On your back with the legs straight, pull one knee into your chest and hold onto your knee or shin. This should provide a nice stretch to the lower back, the hip and buttock.  The extended leg can also be bent.  Repeat 5-10 times with each leg.

Tail Wag –  On hands and knees look over your right shoulder and move your right hip toward your shoulder causing a side bend of the torso.  Hold briefly and do 10-15 times on each side.

Windshield wipers – On your back with the knees bent and wider than hips width, slowly move both knees to one side in a pain-free range of motion.  Do both sides slowly in a continuous movement and/or hold the position.  

These exercises can be done not just to relieve pain but to maintain back health.  If you have any questions, of course, let me know.