Fix Your Low Back Pain, Part 3


This article is part three of the low back pain series, and addresses identifying patterns in low back pain with symptoms that go into the leg. If you have not yet read the previous article, please find it HERE to better understand how this article can be of help to you as you navigate your lower back pain.


If you would prefer a video summary click HERE.


This article is taking a look at lower back pain, and more specifically, the first categorization of low back pain that includes patterned symptoms that reach into the leg. These four simple tests can be done at home, on your own, to begin identifying if you fit in this category. It will also help you to begin self treatment at home for your symptoms, as well as help you distinguish when you need to seek out professional help.


Test #1


From a standing position, bend your body forward reaching towards your toes. Do symptoms increase, decrease, or stay the same? The key factor for this test and all the tests within this article is that the change in symptoms is specific for the leg, even at the expense of the back. So when we say symptoms are better, we mean leg symptoms are better. If the leg symptoms are better but the back is worse, this is considered better.



  • If pain symptoms increase, stop this movement.

  • If symptoms remain the same, repeat this movement until you begin to see either an increase or decrease in pain symptoms. If they increase, stop. If they decrease, you’ve found your pattern.

  • If pain symptoms decrease, you’ve found your pattern. Repeat this movement as often as possible until your overall symptoms begin to subside.

  • The key to full recovery is to continue this pattern of relief while starting to initiate and work through any movement patterns that aggravated symptoms. This really is better guided by a Physical Therapist.


Test #2


If test 1 increased symptoms, then it’s time to move to test #2. You should not do test #2 if test #1 decreased symptoms. Rather, stick with the forward bend as long as symptoms continue to improve.


For test #2, start in a standing position, bend your torso into a backbend. Do symptoms increase, decrease, or stay the same?




  • If pain symptoms increase, stop this movement.

  • If symptoms remain the same, repeat this movement until you begin to see either an increase or decrease in pain symptoms. If they increase, stop. If they decrease, you’ve found your pattern.

  • If pain symptoms decrease, you’ve found your pattern. Repeat this movement as often as possible until your overall symptoms begin to subside.

  • Continue to increase load of this backbend pattern (holding the position deeper, longer, etc.) as symptoms start to become less irritable in standing. This progression again is better guided by a Physical Therapist.


At this point, if both of these movements increase your symptoms, we need to take a look at patterning when gravity is removed from the spine. Test #3 and #4 will remove gravity from the situation. Assuming we find a pattern from these next tests, we will work to add gravity back into the body by working our way back to test #1 or test #2 relative to the findings of what’s below.


Test #3


Laying on your back on your bed or the ground, tuck your knees up to your chest and hug them with your arms. Do your best to have your arms do all the work in order to help relax your back and butt muscles. You might have to do some little oscillations with your arms through your knees. Do symptoms increase, decrease, or stay the same? Repeat the same process:



  • If pain symptoms increase, stop this movement.

  • If symptoms remain the same, repeat this movement until you begin to see either an increase or decrease in pain symptoms. If they increase, stop. If they decrease, you’ve found your pattern.

  • If pain symptoms decrease, you’ve found your pattern. Repeat this movement as often as possible until your overall symptoms begin to subside.


If you find a positive effect from this movement, be sure to continue revisiting the standing movements from test #1 and #2, as at some point, your body will begin to tolerate gravity, and these standing movements will begin to also show positive symptom reduction during the movements. The gravity reduced movements will eventually become insufficient to make the changes and you have to work up to the addition of gravity.


Test #4


Laying on your belly on the floor, prop yourself up with a pillow under your chest. Allow the pillow to move your spine into a backbend position, without the use of your back or your butt muscles, you should be able to slowly relax into this position. This should be a passive movement, as the pillow is doing the work. The follow ups for this one are slightly modified:



  • If pain symptoms increase, stop this movement.

  • If pain symptoms decrease, you’ve found your pattern. Repeat this movement as often as possible until your overall symptoms begin to subside.

  • If symptoms remain the same, press up into a cobra pose using your hands and arms. Avoid using your back and butt muscles.




If you find that all four of these movement tests result in more pain, stop. At this point, it’s time to give us a call at The Health Lab for a more comprehensive evaluation from our Physical Therapists of your back pain, its patterns, and the path to healing. Call us today for your free 30 minute discovery appointment.



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