Simple Exercises To Help Ease Low Back Pain
Dr. Michael Lella Jr, has been posting exercises to help people suffering from low back pain. Our goal is for our patients, clients, and internet audience to have the tools necessary to live a pain free life.
If your back is acting up give these a shot!
The movement in the first video is called a posterior pelvic tilt. As explained in the video, this exercise serves as a targeted stretch for the lower back, as well as an activation of the deep core muscles. When done properly, this movement can provide a great deal of relief to the lower back and is a MAJOR building block of more exercises to come.
How to perform:
- Lie on your back with your feet flat on the ground.
- Roll the hips back and flatten your lower back against the ground.
- Engage your lower core by trying to push the lower back against the floor.
The Glut Bridge is an excellent way to introduce extension into the lumbar spine and progress towards more pain free movement. This is not only helpful for anyone with back pain. It is also an excellent way to prep your body for squats or deadlifts. If you are the type of person to do squats and not feel them in your butt, then this is for you!
How to perform:
- Posterior pelvic tilt
- Squeeze the glutes together
- Raise the hips off the floor
- Come back to the floor while maintaining the pelvic tilt.
In this video I am demonstrating a typical hip flexor stretch. I mention how a “passive stretch” may actually cause your muscle to fire rather than relax. This is a protective mechanism built into your muscles to stop them from being overstretched or torn. You can override this mechanism by firing the antagonist muscle, in this case the glutes. It is called reciprocal inhibition which essentially means if you are using a muscle, whatever muscle performs the opposite movement is subconsciously told to relax. Firing our glutes helps the hip flexors relax and accept the stretch.
At the end of the video, I also add an elastic band to our stretch. This is a great 2 for 1 technique. A tight hip flexor can jam the hip joint. This elastic band distracts, or un-jams, the joint while simultaneously stretching that hip flexor.
How to perform:
- Get into a half kneel position.
- Do not lean the entire body forward. Instead squeeze the glute and feel it push your hip forward.
- Hold this glute squeeze for the duration of the stretch (20-30 seconds). If this is a challenge, hold the glute for 5-10 seconds and repeat for a few reps.
Good luck and remember to be mindful of your movement! Think about what you want to feel and make it happen.
Are you experiencing pain where my hand is? That’s your Quadratus Lumborum muscle, or “QL”. Often overlooked, this muscle is commonly a major player in low back pain. Here is how you release it!
Both lying or standing, the general concept is the same.
- Find the soft tissue between your hip and rib cage. The spot that hurts the most, needs this the most!
- Apply pressure and breathe.
- Lift the leg and place it back down repeatedly. This will make the release more painful, but more effective as well.
The Cat-Cow 🐈 🐄:
- Begin in quadruped (hands and knees, back straight)
- Curve the entire spine by arching the low back, squeezing the shoulder blades together, and looking to the ceiling.
- Reverse the curve* by looking between your legs and reaching the spine towards the ceiling.
*You want this curve to be even throughout. Don’t let your lower back be the only part that moves like my last few reps!
The Trunk Twist
- Begin in same quadruped position.
- Place your hand on your ear (notice your elbow is pointing towards the floor)
- Rotate the spine to point the elbow towards the ceiling.
*Limit the amount of extra movement during the trunk twist. Don’t cheat for extra rotation like my last few reps!
Low Back Series No.6
Combining this with our last video is a nice way to prep your body for exercise by loosening the lower back, opening the hips, and activating the glutes.
- Begin in quadruped (hands and knees on the floor, back straight)
- Create a circle with your knee in a clockwise direction. You want this circle to be as big as possible while keeping your knee as close to the ground as you can the entire time. This will help keep the lower back flat and uninvolved.
- Reverse the circle into a counter clockwise direction with the same principles.
- What should you feel? Movement through your actual hip capsule as well as stretching of the surrounding musculature.
- Begin in quadruped again.
- Bring the knee straight out to the side (abduction). Keep the knee as close to the ground as possible for as long as you can.
- Once abducted as far as possible, lift the knee.
- The lower back should remain still.
- What should you feel? Your hip opening, a stretch on the inside of your thigh/groin, muscle activation of your glute on the side of your hip.
- Begin lying face down (prone) with arms out to the side in a “T” position.
- Bend the knee, kick the foot towards the ceiling, and then down towards the opposite hand.
- Keep both shoulders flat on the ground.
- What should you feel? A stretch across the front of your hip, activation of the glute, rotation through the trunk.
Pain or incorrect sensation during these? Try again but slower with more attention to the details. Your brain is a muscle too. Use it to help you! If this doesn’t work, refer back to the previous videos in our low back series and work out some of your remaining kinks.