Back Pain Relief

The Single Best Exercise For Lower Back Pain

If you have back pain and your doctor has told you its from tight or sore muscles, then the single best exercise for you to do for your low back pain is probably going to be the Psoas, or hip flexor stretch.

The Psoas (So-az with a long ‘o’) muscle lies deep in your abdominal cavity and attaches to the front of your back bone. It helps to stabilize your body when you’re walking or upright. And it also helps to raise your knee as when you’re going up steps or kicking a ball.

It’s one of the essential “core” muscles everyone has heard about and is a workhorse when it comes to keeping you from falling over when you’re walking, running, carrying a heavy load, etc. In short, it’s a really important muscle.

The Problem With Sitting

The problem is this: They get neglected in this high tech 21st century. And because they get neglected, they get weak and tight. This happens because of all the sitting people do nowadays. People are sitting in their cars, on trains, on buses, at desks, at dinner tables and so on.

Since these muscles attach to the lower portion of your spine, when they get short and tight from prolonged sitting, they tend to pull on your lower spine when you’re in any position other than sitting.

You may feel that it’s hard to straighten up when you first get up out of a chair. Or, you may have a lot of back pain when you’re walking for longer periods of time. Both of these issues with back pain are probably coming from the fact that your hip flexor muscles have become shortened and tight.

In order to be healthy and not cause any back pain, they need exercise. They get worked out and stay healthy and strong with a lot of physical activity. Like when you’re using your legs to hold you up against gravity like when you’re walking, running, dancing, playing sports and so on.

You hear a lot about how you should stay active for good heart health and lose weight. But, it’s essential to stay active if you want a healthy back also.

Hip Flexor Stretch Is Best Exercise For Back Pain

Now when I say that the one best exercise for back pain is the stretching the psoas, that is not to say that others should be avoided. Not at all.

However, for someone that has back pain, doing a simple stretch may be more convenient an exercise than trying to do something else. Plus it may not hurt as much if you find a good way for you do do it.

There are several ways to stretch your hip flexor muscle group. You can do it in standing, kneeling, sitting, and even lying  on the bed on your back.

Hip Flexor Stretch In Standing

Doing this stretch in standing is easier for those of you who may not be in as much pain or may be able to move better. You basically  just place one foot on an elevated surface like a step or chair. Then you simply move your belly button forward stretching the front of the thigh of the rear leg.

 

 

Hip Flexor Stretch In Sitting

You can do this stretch in sitting also. Simply move your rear end to the front of the chair and turn your body slightly so that one leg falls off the chair. This is the leg that will be stretched. You need to really stretch your foot behind your body to feel this stretch.

 

 

Hip Flexor Stretch in Kneeling

If you have bad knees you may need a pillow to do this one. I like to call it the “proposal” stretch. You simply rest on one knee, place the opposite foot a short distance ahead of it’s knee and lunge forward. This will stretch the psoas on the rear leg. Remember to keep your body straight with your head and shoulders above your hips.

 

 

Hip Flexor Stretch Lying Down

This technique is for folks who have a lot of back pain or are stiff in other areas of their bodies. It keeps your back straight and supported through the whole stretch. Drop the leg you want to stretch off the bed or bench. Then pull the opposite knee towards your chest. You only have to pull until you feel a stretch in the opposite leg. Don’t try to tie yourself in knots.

 

 

 

Each method will stretch the Psoas to one degree or another and should relieve some of the pain that may be caused by tension in your hip flexor muscles. But it’s important to remember that for any exercise program to work, it needs to be done on a consistent basis and over the course of several weeks.

After you limber up a progressive strengthening program for your hip extensor muscles may be in order.

 

Get On A Stretching Program

So, while I believe this particular stretch to be the single best exercise for you to do if you want to start getting a handle on your back pain, it’s not a quick fix.

Keep in mind that if your back pain is caused by sitting all day at work, in front of a computer, or in a car, doing one or two exercises a couple of times a week isn’t going to reverse something you do day in and day out. You need an exercise plan thats simple and easy to do and will fit in with your life’s schedule.

 

 

 

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What Exercises To Do For Lower Back Pain?

Freedom From Back Pain

 

A lot of the time, people who have a lot of back pain find that they can’t really walk or be active for an extended period of time because their back starts to bother them and they have to sit down and get off their feet.

Does this sound like you? Does your back start to hurt after walking for a while?

You’re not alone. Many people who go thru this think that they’re weak. More specifically, they think that their back is weak because it’s the first thing that starts to get tired when they’re on their feet too long.

You may not agree with me, but I’m willing to bet that it’s not their back that’s weak. It’s the surrounding muscles that are weak. And then, other muscles are tight.

And because some muscles are tight and the others weak, your low back muscles have to work overtime just to keep you upright and headed in the right direction.

It’s more common place than you realize. The reason for this is because more people are more sedentary than before.

Lower back pain from sitting all day

Sitting at Desk All Day

350543 / Pixabay

If you have a sit down job or a long commute, these are probably the culprits for your lower back pain. I have touched on this in several blog posts. But, let me explain it a little more here.

When you’re sitting or lying down, the muscles in your back, hips, and legs, aren’t working and so, they get weaker. This is natural since you’re not using them.

But, in addition to these muscles getting weaker, other muscles get shorter and tighter. Specifically your hip flexors, hamstrings, and piriformis muscles.

It’s these muscles that are most in need of stretching if you sit at work all day and end up with a stiff and sore back.

Now the best way to strengthen your back and all the surrounding muscles is to start a daily walking program. Walking is probably the single best exercise for your back pain. Strengthening exercise that is.

Don’t try to lift weights with a sore back. Going to the gym and “getting stronger” is not what’s needed at this point.

Back Stretching Exercises For Lower Back Pain

Yoga Stretching

janeb13 / Pixabay

As I noted above, there are just a few specific muscles that you could start to stretching to feel a lot less pain and be able to get around better.

The most notable and important to understand are your hip flexor muscles. Making sure they are stretched out is essential for treating or preventing lower back pain.

These muscles are attached to the front of your back. That is, they are attached to the front side of your backbone. They are in your abdomen behind your stomach and intestines.

Your hip flexors bring your knee up toward your chest and work to stabilize your spine when you’re walking, bending, or carrying something in your arms.

They get tight by staying in a forward flexed position like when you’re sitting. It doesn’t matter where you’re sitting or what you’re doing while you’re sitting. That flexed posture is what does it. And, after several months or years, sitting at a desk, in a car, on a commute, etc. these muscles are pretty tight.

It really starts to be obvious when it gets pretty to stand up straight after sitting for a period of time. This puts a big strain on your lower back muscles that are trying to keep you upright against these tight hip flexors which are working to keep you in that sitting position.

A tell-tale sign is when you go to the supermarket and see people bent over on their shopping carts. This is an indication that they probably sit at work for a living or are otherwise sedentary.

Good Stretches For Back Pain

Hip Flexor Stretch

energepic / Pixabay

There are several ways to stretch out your hip flexors. Some are more involved than others. And choosing the right technique will really depend on several things from how much pain you’re having to what clothes you’re wearing to what setting your find yourself in at the time.

If you’re having a lot of back pain, it’s probably better if you’re stretching while lying on your back. Having your back supported will eliminate the need for your back muscles to support your body weight against gravity.

If you’re wearing business casual or straight up business attire, then your clothes may not lend themselves to being stretched aggressively and you may have to modify the intensity of your stretches.

If you’re a woman and wearing a skirt, it may be that you need to find a more private setting to do your stretches.

I would encourage you to experiment and figure out what’s best for you at any given time. A good stretching program should be done several times a day.

Bad Back Stretches

Bad Back Exercise

tpsdave / Pixabay

If you do have a bad back, there are some types of exercise you should avoid altogether. Namely, you should avoid anything that increases your back pain. This should go without saying, but there is a myth floating around about whats needed to deal with most types of chronic pain.

That myth is the “no pain, no gain” theory.

This is so misunderstood that it’s probably the cause of a good percentage of injuries and even hospital visits.

The better rule of thumb to follow when trying to treat your back pain at home or on your own would be to understand that “if it hurts, stop doing it”. This means you have to really key into what’s happening in your body as you’re doing the stretch or the exercises.

You wan’t to pay attention to it and see if your’re causing the pain and discomfort to escalate. If this is happening, you have to figure out why, what’s causing it, and then to adjust your technique so that you’re not feeling any increase in symptoms.

Home Exercise Program For Low Back Pain

Walking Program For Back Pain

jackmac34 / Pixabay

As a physical therapist, I have treated a lot of people suffering from back pain. Some of them have had serious conditions and injuries that could only be addressed by medication or surgery or both.

However, the majority of people I have worked on and with found that with a few simple exercises they were able to reduce or eliminate the the pain they were feeling. This was because the back pain they were feeling was caused by weak and tight muscles.

Learning how to treat your sore and aching back may be easier than you think. But, it takes a little bit of learning to get there. First of all you need to understand how your lower back works. Next, what bad habits you may have that may be causing some problems. And then, how to correct those habits to restore the natural muscular tension and bring your lower back into balance.

And the purpose of this website is to help you do just that. Make sure you book mark this blog so you can refer to it as needed.

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9 Things To Keep In Mind To Treat Your Back Pain

If you’re anything like me, you try to solve your own problems with little fanfare or inconvenience to others around you. And, as a last resort, you may break down and go to see your doctor.

In the case of back pain, there are a few things to keep in mind if you have the misfortune of having to deal with it.

In most cases the pain isn’t caused by anything serious and will usually get better over time – it could be caused by a pulled muscle or as a result of having slept in a more unusual position.

1. Most people worldwide will experience back pain during their lifetime

In these cases – 98 per cent, according to research – people recover reasonably quickly, and many do so without treatment. Some people experience repeat episodes, which can be distressing, but again these are rarely dangerous.

2. You rarely need a scan and it can do more harm than good

3. Avoid bedrest, stay in work and gradually resume normal activities

4. You should not fear bending or lifting

5. Exercise and activity reduce and prevent back pain

6. Painkillers will not speed up your recovery

7. Surgery is rarely needed

8. Get good quality sleep

See more…

The original article goes into a lot more detail in each of these points. So head over there and have a read.

9. Don’t panic if you’re not able to get relief fast enough. In many cases, stress can actually make you feel even worse. In most cases, back pain is usually the result of a strain of an already weak muscle.

If you’re sedentary and pretty inactive, it doesn’t take much to feel a twinge here or there.

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Back Pain Treatments: Stretches are Important

Plow Ahead - Stretches

 

So, you have back pain. You’ve been to your doctor and they say that you have a muscle strain and nothing serious is wrong. This is good. But, what do you do next?

Besides just taking a lot of pills, figuring out how to fix your back pain at home, can be trial and error for a while. But, treatment has to start somewhere. And, it’ll probably start with a few basic steps.

We already know that there isn’t a serious diagnosis, so you shouldn’t have to worry about “breaking” anything. If your x-ray/MRI came back negative, and there is nothing alarming about your lab work. Chances are you’re dealing with a simple (but excruciating) muscle strain.

This throws a lot of people off at first and they think their doctor has missed something or isn’t telling them the truth for one reason or another. But this probably isn’t the case at all. The fact is this: strained muscles don’t show up on any test. So, they’re easy to miss but they make you feel like you’re dying.

So, what do you do for them?

For back pain of the more common type you may start your home remedy search with one or more the following routines:

  • Rest

People often get the wrong idea about what is meant by “rest”. It’s simply means to “take it easy” and realize that you’re injured. Don’t try to do a lot of work or activity.

Resting for an injured back is a combination of walking, sitting, and lying down. Each are important. And, you should “listen” to your back pain to know when enough is enough.

You don’t want to be a vegetable. Sure, get up and get around. But, don’t lift or do housework. Walking is probably the most strenuous activity you should be doing.

You’re going to want to avoid irritating any affected parts of your spine and the muscles that surround this area.

  • Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs)

Your doctor is probably going to tell you to take some Motrin (advil) or Naproxen (Aleve) in order to manage the pain. For most people, these medications work wonders when you have a back strain or back pain.

  • Cold/Hot Packs

Some people will want to put heat on their sore muscles because it feels good. But, you may want to save this for the very last resort. This is because if you have swelling or inflammation in the area, putting heat on it will just make it work.

Heat is good for tired muscles but for injured muscles, ice works better. Applying the ice to the tenderest point with a thin layer of fabric between the skin and the ice will be better than a hot pack.

  • Exercise

You may not realize this but stretching exercise is probably the most important element in a good lower back pain treatment plan. Stretches for lower back pain not only increases your overall flexibility, but it can also relieve the muscular tension that may be causing the pain in the first place.

Experts also know that stretching the legs and hips is very effective in reducing or eliminating back pain altogether in people with low back strains. This is because the muscles in the lower back are helped by the muscles in the hips and legs. And if one is doing good, the other is doing good also.

  • Narcotic Pain Medications

If your pain is severe, anti-inflammatory medications may not be enough to make you comfortable. This is when your doctor may prescribe narcotics. Medications like Norco and Vicodin are common. But, some people don’t like them because narcotics may affect your brain and make you feel “foggy”.

  • Muscle Relaxers

Muscle relaxers are another type of medication that your doctor may recommend. But, like narcotics, they may have side effects like drowsiness and also give you that “foggy” feeling. But, if your pain is keeping you awake, a muscle relaxer like Flexeril, Valium, or Soma may be prescribed.

You may have success with one or more of these approaches in combination. But, the thing to keep in mind is the need to keep moving. An important thing to keep in mind is that doing leg and hip range of motion exercises are good back pain stretches.

 

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