Now, we’ll focus on helping you navigate through the exercises to determine which ones can relieve pain and restore the health of your back.
Designed for movement, your body needs to stay active for good health. When you’re sedentary for long periods, muscles weaken, connective tissue stiffens, and joint lubrication is reduced. On the contrary, movement heals and supports you. Physiology rewards your activity by releasing feel-good hormones and reducing stress.
The most common causes of back problems include poor breathing and posture mechanisms, hip tension, physical trauma, age-related degeneration, a sedentary lifestyle, excess weight or pregnancy, and stress. Since most of these factors are related to muscle problems, using corrective exercises to mobilize and strengthen the muscles that support and move the spine is key to reducing and preventing back pain.
listen to your body
The mind-body connection is the bridge that helps you develop a harmonious sense of your bodily state, allowing you to respond to your body’s messages.
With back pain, misunderstanding or ignoring pain messages can cause an injury, while overreaction can lead to unnecessary tests, medications, and procedures that can slow down recovery. By taking advantage of your mind-body connection, you can better distinguish between the warning sensations that warn you to avoid certain movements and the less intense movements caused by muscle tension and joint stiffness. The latter is the type of pain we want to move through to achieve relief.
Breathing techniques and mindfulness meditation can help strengthen your mind-body connection as you do the exercises below.
Do corrective exercises
Here are three categories of exercises for lower back pain with examples you can try.
When doing any exercises, stop immediately if pain increases or you feel “wrong”. Remember to pay attention to any sensations you are feeling.
These exercises are designed to address the most common causes of back pain, but because not all back pain respond to the same treatment, not all exercises work for everyone. Talk to your doctor to understand the source of your pain and get approval before beginning any exercise program.
Although many of these exercises can be successful in treating low back pain associated with sciatic nerve symptoms, the third part of our series will focus on sciatica and offer additional ways to manage nerve-related presentations.
1. Breathing and posture exercises
Practicing proper abdominal breathing is the foundation of all back pain treatment and prevention programs I use in professional sports. Since the primary breathing muscle, the diaphragm, is also a central and postural muscle that connects to the lumbar spine and rib cage, by creating the proper biomechanics of breathing, you can realign your spine, pelvis, and rib cage while strengthening your heart. Deep breathing also reduces the body’s response to physiological stress and facilitates recovery.
Start on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor, thighs spaced apart.
Hold a foam yoga block or rolled up towel between your knees to prevent them from splitting.
Place your hands on your lower ribs to guide and monitor its movement in and out with each breath.
Exhale fully, pulling your lower ribs toward each other, feeling your heart working and moving your rib cage down. At the end of this exhale, without inhaling, bend your tailbone to flatten your lower back and raise your hips 3 or 4 inches off the floor.
Maintaining bridge position, take five long, deep breaths, focusing on proper rib movement, especially on exhale.
Hold this position using the strength of your core and muscles to avoid letting your lower back arch.
Avoid upward movement of the rib cage during breathing; You should not feel tension or tension in your jaw, neck, or shoulders.
If you feel warning pain when raising your hips to the bridge, keep your hips and backs on the floor as you practice your breath.
Practice two sets for a total of 10 breaths.
2. Hip and pelvic movement exercises
The lumbar vertebrae in your lower back are not designed to twist; It is supposed to be stable. The hips are designed with ball and socket joints to enable rotation in all directions.
Unfortunately, if your hips are tight or your pelvis does not move freely, you are putting pressure on your lower back. It is important to avoid this pressure by creating a healthy balance between hip and pelvic mobility and lumbar stability.
3. Mid-back rotation exercises
The thoracic spine in the middle of your back is designed to rotate, and when it doesn’t rotate well, it causes your lower back to compensate. Mid back rotation exercises are good for relieving low back pressure and creating healthy spine movement.
This double knee twister uses breathing and opposite rib motion to support healthy rotation from the middle of your back while keeping your lower back stable. When trying any type of mid-back twisting exercise, keep these instructions in mind.
double knee flexion
Lie on your right side with your knees bent at a 90-degree angle and aligned in front of your hips.
Use a pillow or pillow under your head to keep your neck neutral.
Place a yoga block or pillow between your knees.
Make sure your shoulders, hips, and knees are stacked.
Extend both arms straight out in front of you in line with your shoulders with your palms on the floor.
Inhale as you open your left arm to the left while keeping your lower body in place to the right; The knees and hips remain aligned and stacked. This is important to keep your lower back stable.
Roll from the middle of your back – not your lower back.
Place your right hand on the outside of your left leg to help hold it in place.
Exhale and focus on pulling your lower ribs inward on the right side of the rib cage to help rotate the rib cage and rib spine into a twist.
Take four more breaths, while continuing to focus on the movement of the rib on the exhale to direct the rotation. Then release back to the start.
Repeat from the left side.
After trying the exercises that fit into these three categories, decide what works for you and do them daily for at least two weeks.
If sciatica is an aspect of lower back pain, find the next article in this series to learn about nerve pain relief techniques. Once you begin to see an improvement in the health of your back, return to the fourth installment of the series to create a proactive maintenance plan to keep you out of the pain.