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  • Writer's pictureThe Health Lab

Fix Your Low Back Pain, Part 5

This article is part five of the low back pain series, and begins to address low back pain that does not have any accompanying leg symptoms (any pain below the butt). If you DO have leg symptoms, please start back at post #3 HERE to find the appropriate approach for your pain.

If you would prefer a video summary click HERE.

This particular categorization is for people with lower back pain with no leg symptoms that might describe their back pain as “stiff” or “locked up.” Stiffness in the lower back can make it challenging to move and do all the things you love. Further, this particular pain often carries with it a lot of misinformation. Well-meaning doctors, friends, and random internet articles offer advice that is not accurate or helpful. If you’ve been offered information that tells you that your back is exceptionally vulnerable and that you really need to work to protect your back, you are not alone.

What is the goal for this classification of back pain?

If you fit this classification (low back pain, no leg symptoms, feelings of stiffness), the goal for you is going to be to alleviate pain, and then build up strength to keep pain from returning.

Can back pain improve for most people?

The answer is an overwhelming “yes.” The majority of low back pain will improve, particularly if you partner with a movement driven Physical Therapist. The exceptions are if you are having a loss of bladder or bowel, numbness in the groin, unremitting night pain, or progressive leg weakness. If you are experiencing these issues, you will need to be evaluated by a physician as this can be a sign of a significant injury that requires medical care beyond the abilities of a Physical Therapist.

Time, rest, avoidance of activity, imaging, and injections are NOT the quick-fix answers to healing back pain, even though they are the answers that are primarily being sold by the medical system. Usually these produce minimal short term improvements with significant long term physical and mental barriers to actually getting better.

So how do you work through this pain?

If you are in this category of back pain and find that as you move around you experience a “catch” in your back or a general feeling of stiffness, there are fortunately some things you can do at home to help alleviate these symptoms and perpetrate better movement.

1) Ditch the Ice & Heat

Things like ice and heat can feel nice but ultimately, if you are not moving through some of the muscle tension then your improvement will be minimal. The only time ice or heat should be used is if it helps you to move.

2) Romanian Deadlift

Step by Step Guide:

  1. Stand with feet hip width apart

  2. Cross your arms over your chest

  3. Hinge at your hips, moving your trunk forward

  4. Keep your back flat as you move

  • You should feel your back muscles working

  • You should feel your hamstring muscles stretching

  • There should be no pain down your legs

3) Captain Bends

Step by Step Guide:

  1. Put either leg up on a chair with hip width stance

  2. Let you arms slide down your body, reaching for the ground

  3. Allow yourself to curl your whole spine

  • You should feel warmth in your back muscles

  • There should be no pain down your legs

4) Banded Punches

Step by Step Guide:

  1. Anchor a band around something solid

  2. Grab the other end and step away from the anchor

  3. Stand with a hip width stance

  4. Punch your hands straight out

  5. Resist the band from rotating your spine

  6. Move your hands back and forth for reps until fatigue

  • Core and legs should be working

  • There should be no pain down your legs

5) Supported Squats

Step by Step Guide:

  1. Hold onto something solid that can support your weight

  2. Stand with a hip width stance

  3. Slowly squat down keeping your back flat

  4. Use your arms to unweight your body as needed

  5. You should feel some stretch in your body/back

  • Legs should be working, but not struggling

  • There should be no pain down your legs

If these exercises do not relieve your symptoms and help you return to normal movement, you may need the assistance of a Physical Therapist. Further, if you do find that you are having a loss of bladder or bowel, numbness in the groin, unremitting night pain, or progressive leg weakness, you need to see a physician immediately.

Whether you need a little support and direction, are completely confused or overwhelmed by the process, or are just unsure of where to start, call the Health Lab today to schedule your free 30 minutes discovery session to see how we can help you heal your body, make it more resilient, and get you on the road back to health and wellness.

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