Nearly two thirds of Americans experience low back pain at some point in their life. Over 30% of Americans do not seek medical help to manage their back pain and of those that do seek help, over 70% are taking pain medications. Physical therapists are working hard to educate Americans on how to decrease their back pain without the need for opioid medications. One of the best ways to manage back pain is to keep MOVING and one of the best ways to do this is by walking daily. The worst way to manage back pain is by staying in bed and not moving. As joints stop moving, they become stiffer which in turn causes more pain. By moving, you are lubricating the joints in your spine to promote movement which can improve pain. Below are 3 simple exercises that promote movement, that you can try if you are experiencing low back pain. If you do not see any changes in your low back pain after trying these exercises, you will likely benefit from a one-on-one examination by a physical therapist. You should call a physician or physical therapist if your back pain is accompanied with loss of bowel or bladder control, numbness or tingling in your feet or legs, or inability to walk.
When performing the “TA contraction”, it is easiest to start lying down with your knees bent and your feet flat. It is a very small contraction, not like you are sucking in your stomach. If you notice that you are sucking in your stomach, you are then using other abdominal muscles. The purpose of this muscle, is to provide stability to your lower back, so that you can move with less back pain. It is very important that you do NOT hold your breath while performing this exercise. Try counting out loud while holding the contraction, this will help you to breath. You should have no back pain while performing this exercise.
An easy way to begin to promote mobility to your low back is by performing “Pelvic Tilts.” Simply, lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat. Imagine that a there is a clock lying on our stomach. Rock your pelvis back and forth from 12:00 to 6:00. This should be performed slowly and with control. You should have no pain with this exercise.
Another simple exercise to promote mobility to your low back is with “Trunk Rotation.” Start by lying on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat. Next, drop your knees to one side while rotating your low back, return to the starting position, then drop your knees to the other side. Stay within a pain free range of motion when completing this