May 7, 2017
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
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
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.
— Dr. Joseph Mercola (@mercola) April 17, 2016
Good Stretches For Back Pain
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
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
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.