- Diseases, Disorders & Conditions
How to relieve Back Pain in 5 easy steps
Yoga Exercises for Low Back Pain
Safe Lifting Techniques
Plank & Side Plank
5) See a physical therapist. If in doubt, if you have other medical conditions you are concerned about or something just doesn't feel right; see a physical therapist who can create a customized exercise and therapy program for you. In most states you can see a physical therapist first, without waiting weeks for a referral or prescription from a physician. This is called Direct Access and it allows you to see a physical therapist directly. Call the physical therapy clinic of your choice and ask for an evaluation. A physical therapist will know if you need to be referred somewhere else, however, physical therapy is the most effective and cost efficient treatment for back pain with no side effects.
5 steps to healing your low back pain
1) The most important thing to do if you have low back pain is to continue with your normal daily activities and exercise. Over 80% of Americans experience low back pain at some point in their life. For many people it will resolve itself with in 3 months and continuing to work and exercise is vital. Be sure that you are not working through any sharp shooting pain, and if you have bowel or bladder dysfunction or genital numbness you seek the advice of your physician.
2) Move your body safely. This means to lift heavy objects close to you, stretch gently, move and rotate your back and stop any activity or exercise that does not feel right or produces any sharp or shooting pain. The video below demonstrates an excellent yoga series that will help you move your back safely and begin to activate your core. Yoga is an excellent form of exercise which combines strength with flexibility and balance. Many people find relief of their low back pain with a consistent yoga practice which is at least 2-3 times a week. You should start with a class until you are comfortable practicing yoga at home on your own, then take a class 1-2 times a week and practice at home for at least 30 minutes 2-3 times a week.
Walking is also a great exercise for low back pain and it helps strengthen your back muscles and activates your core in a reciprocal fashion. Your goal should be to work up to walking a minimum of 30 minutes 5 days a week, which has many other tremendous health benefits.
3) Activate your core: Core exercises are important, but not traditional sit ups which only shorten your hip flexor muscles. Your core works to stabilize your back and trunk, so exercises to strengthen it should also train you to be stable. These types of exercises are done for 30 seconds to 3 minutes and challenge you to use your core or deep stomach to keep your body still
The first video shows you how to begin activating your core with a modified Bird Dog or stabilization exercise. You can progress to a modified (on your knees) plank and side plank as seen in the second video. The third video demonstrates a bridge and this is great to help stretch your hip flexors, move your hips and back and strengthen your core. Be sure to tighten your stomach when you do these, it can be easy for your body to cheat and use the strength of your hips and legs.
If any of these exercises cause any sharp or shooting pain, please stop. Try them again at 40% of the effort and if this does not change the way you feel, you most likely need the guidance of a physical therapist.
4) Help your muscles to let go. This is as important as moving safely. Pain creates bracing and chronic bracing patterns create muscular tightness, fascia restrictions and trigger points. Start with a tennis ball and lay down on the floor or lean against a wall with the ball in the painful muscle. Find the right spot and stay there for 3-5 minutes or until you feel multiple releases of the tissue and your back. You can use a tennis ball, inflated rubber ball, dryer ball, dog toy like a kong or other firm but flexible ball or toy to release the muscles and tissues almost anywhere on your body where you have pain or that feels tight, hard or tender. See the picture and description below to start treating your back today. Another great resource for treating yourself with a ball and myofascial release techniques is the Myofascial Stretching Book by Brenda Party and Jill Stendronsky, which you can buy on Amazon.
Self Myofascial Release with an Inflatable Ball
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Myofascial Release with a Ball
Lay on the ground, a mat, blanket or your bed. You can also try this sitting in a chair or even in your car if you have a long commute. Each surface will provide a different level of resistance or pressure.
Roll to your side and position the ball under your back, near the spot where you hurt, feel pain or tightness. The ball should be in the muscles to the side of your spine, on your sacrum (the boney plate at the base of your spine) or hip . Roll flat and let your body relax and sink into the ball. Breathe deep and allow yourself to let go.
These techniques are gentle, sustained and relaxing. You should allow yourself to move and adjust as you feel your body letting go, however, moving back and forth over the tender area is not the goal of this self treatment.
These areas may feel tight, tender, or like “the spot” and the techniques should feel good.
Spend 3 to 5 minutes in each area to allow the fascia to release.
Slowly roll on your side to reposition or to stand up.
If this feels really good to you and you want to learn more about myofascial release, the Myofascial Stretching Book is a wonderful tool, which I recommend to all of my patients.
If at any time this does not feel good or you feel something is wrong, please stop and consult your local physical therapist.