It’s a rare person who hasn’t uttered these words at some time or another.
Our long-suffering lower back can get a bit grumpy when we’ve not treated it well.
How does this pain happen?
- Too much bending forward – as in gardening,
- Lifting or twisting awkwardly
- Spending too long sitting or standing with poor posture
Our spine and the muscles that support it are designed to work most efficiently when the S curve is maintained.
Our problems all stem from our modern lifestyle – too much sitting (or should I say slumping!)
This turns the spinal curve into more of a C shape which is not conducive to optimal function.
Helpful Exercises from Kris:
Some simple stretching and mobility exercises to incorporate into your day – every day! More than once if possible.
N.B. Whilst most back pain will improve on its own DO seek professional help if you are in extreme discomfort and/or the pain radiates down your leg. Never push through pain.
Do these from a standing position.
- Hoola hoop hip circles
- Waggle hips from side to side
- Slide your fingers down one leg to a side bend
- From an upright position gently twist to look behind you
- Place your hands in the small of your back and arch back slowly
Do the following floor exercises daily or as often as possible.
Cat, cow and doggy tail wag – on all fours with a flat back to begin, arch your back like a cat, flatten it like a cow and then wag your tail. Repeat 5-6 times.
Bird dog – on all fours in table-top. Extend one arm out straight directly in front of you to shoulder height, whilst at the same time extending the OPPOSITE leg directly behind you to hip height. Imagine a cup of tea (or wine) is balanced on your back. Count for 5 then swap over. Repeat 6 times.
Bridges – lie on your back with your feet flat on the ground and your legs bent. Lift your bottom and hips as high as you can off the ground. Pause for 3 seconds then lower to the ground again. Repeat 10 times.
Pelvic tilt – again lying on your back with feet flat and legs bent. Brace your abdominals and tilt your hips towards your ribs. Do 8-10 of these.
The Clam – Lie on one side with both legs at 45 degrees. Keep your feet touching each other whilst you open your knees. Squeeze your bottom as you do this exercise as it is designed to remind glute medius to do its job! Do 8-10 of these and repeat on the other side.
Final back-pain tips:
Exercise is now recommended for back pain as opposed to taking to your bed until it goes away. Walking, swimming and cycling are all great options. Leave out the rowing, running or Zumba until you are fully recovered. A warm bath with Epsom Salts could also help relieve muscle tension.
As you recover, think about improving your posture particularly when sitting. Sit on your sit bones rather than your tail bone and try to maintain the curve in your lower back. Get up often from a sitting position – at least every 20 minutes – this will help your metabolic function as well.
Make sure you are lifting safely– get close to the object and use your powerful leg and glute muscles rather than bending over and using your back exclusively. Don’t be lazy and lift a heavier or more awkward load than you know you should!
It is never too early to start and never too late to begin!
Kris will bring you Part 2 of her article next month. She will focus on how to combat issues arising from sitting too long.
Exercise Specialist, Kris Tynan.
Watch out for more great exercise and lifestyle tips from Kris Tynan next month.