Over the last 5 weeks, we have discussed everything from what low back pain is, most common causes, some of the most common myths associated with low back pain, and when to consider imaging studies (x-ray, MRI, CT) due to red flags that lead us to something more severe being the cause. We even covered a few tips to help when you find yourself traveling for work or vacation.
We have been building up toward the actual care of low back pain, but wanted to fully educate on how common low back pain is, what we know about low back pain at this time, and help you focus on life outside of back pain.
Today, we are going to do just that.
When we look to decrease disability from low back pain, and encourage and support patients back to an active lifestyle, this is done in two ways. EDUCATION & EXERCISE. We have already discussed the education component. Now it is time for exercise. Below are 5 ways to help manage and prevent your low back pain with exercise and stretching routines that can be done at home, the gym, or even at the office.
Side Bar -> If anyone gives you a hard time, or tosses a laugh in your way for stretching at the office, I will leave it up to you to either invite them to join (because they need to do this too), or, wait until they start having an issue with low back pain and then pass them our card! Seriously though, invite your co-works to join in, make it an office party, it will be fun.
Fix Your Low Back With These 5 Easy Exercises & Stretches You Can Do At Home or Work.
STEP 1: Get Out Of Bed With Our Morning Routine.
After a good nights sleep, it is common for our muscles to want to remain in bed. Because of this, early morning activities can challenge our bodies more than they are ready to handle, resulting in a nice low back strain injury. If you are already dealing with low back pain, you know that morning stiffness can prevent you from even rolling over, not to mention actually get up out of said bed.
STEP 2: Desk Sitters - Get Up & Move
While things are improving, the seats we subject ourselves too in our cars, on the train, and at the office are just comfortable enough to keep you seated for an extensive period of time, but provide little support to keep you from tightening up in the process. Start this NOW -> Set an alarm on your phone that goes off every 1-2 hours. Walk around the office, hand deliver a message, and then take 30 seconds and perform these stretches.
STEP 3: Pre-Workout Hip Mobility
We are going to assume you have a daily routine of some exercise? If you do not, reset, and start adding some exercise to your life, no other method is as impactful on helping your low back issues. Once you get to the gym, or home if you prefer, go through a GOOD HIP MOBILITY routine. We know that the more we improve the mobility of our hips, the less our low back has to work…overwork.
STEP 4: Post-Workout Core Strength
The same goes for core strength as hip mobility. The stronger our core, the less our low backs have to work. Now…I don’t mean getting down on the floor and performing a half-hearted set or some sorry excuse for crunch/sit-up type exercise. We are talking functional here. Planks, Side Planks, Plank Rolls, Heavy Farmer and Suitcase Walks, as well as The Big 3.
STEP 5: Strength For Life
Most people who have dealt with low back pain have since, and forever will, shy away from true strength movements. But let me just plug that as humans, you should be able to squat as well as pick something heavy off the ground without fear of hurting yourself. As you work on hip mobility and core strength, you have to start working in squats and dead-lifts. Start with these modifications and work on control and endurance.
Exercise is considered the best medicine for low back pain. While this is true and I strongly support this. Our actual goal with care is to get our patients back to these activities. But often, patients present in enough pain that they are unable to run, ski, bike, weight lift, etc. With that said, most can start with basic stretching and mobility until the pain is relieved. From there, exercise can prevent flair-ups, or at least decrease their intensity and length of the episode. Either way, low back pain has to have a component which includes YOU doing some, if not most, of the work.
Next week we will look at some of the traditional, as well as, new developments in conservative care low back pain. Until then, and if you are craving more reading, check out our ‘12 Ways..’ Tips guide to further help your low back pain.
Dr. Reheisse is a Board Certified Chiropractic Sports Physician practicing in Cottonwood Heights Utah. Revive Sport & Spine provides evidence-supported chiropractic care and conservative sports injury management.