Are you living with low back pain, maybe with pain shooting into your hips and legs? Check out these tips from an expert in the field, Dr. Katherine Rainey, Lead Physical Therapist for Advanced Rehab Center.
- Get moving—If you have a job that requires many hours of sitting, take stretch breaks at minimum every hour. Stand up and reach arms overhead, stretching the spine tall. Then introduce a slight back bend by extending the spine backward. Next, separate feet shoulder width apart and side bend the spine to the left and right, while continuing the overhead reach
- Use a lumbar roll—Take a small towel, roll it up, and place it at the small of your low back when you are sitting for prolonged periods of time. A small pillow can also be used, or you could purchase a specific lumbar pillow online. This promotes proper spinal alignment and loading to the disks of your low back.
- Take a Yoga class—Whenever you sit for long periods of time, your hamstrings and hip flexors are in shortened positions. You must counteract this by performing mobility exercises; otherwise these muscles will lose their functional length, creating increased tension in the low back. Adding a Yoga class to your fitness routine will ensure that you are properly stretching and warding off the damage of a sedentary lifestyle.
- Be mindful of posture—Throughout the day, perform posture checks. If you are sitting or standing think of a string being attached to the very top of your head. Someone is constantly pulling that string straight up, creating length and decompressing the spine. Do not give in to gravity and hang on your spine.
- Strengthen your core—The deep muscles of the abs and low back are what support your spine and protect it from unnecessary stress and strain. The major function of the core is to stabilize the spine to create more efficient movement and longevity of health. These essential core exercises teach body awareness and how to engage the Transverse Abdominis (TRA):
- Pelvic Tilts: Lie on your back with your knees bent, feet flat on the ground. Place your hands on your hipbones, then let the fingers drop inward toward each other. Take a breathe in and on the exhale, flatten your low back into the floor, feeling the tailbone slightly lift and abdominals engage. Hold for 5 seconds and then release. Perform 10 repetitions.
- Bird Dog: On hands and knees, knees in alignment with hips and hands directly under shoulders, try to maintain neutral spinal alignment by bracing the core (pulling the belly button inward and tightening). While keeping the core engaged, lengthen one arm forward and the opposite leg backward. The goal is to not let the spine lose the neutral position. Hold for 5 seconds, and then switch sides, opposite arm reaching and opposite leg lengthening behind. Perform 10 repetitions on each side.
If you have a history of low back pain or referral pain into your legs or hips, it would be in your best interest to come in for a thorough evaluation at Advanced Rehab Center. Dr. Rainey can fully assess your strength, range of motion, posture, and perform movement tests, which can lead to a specific diagnosis and treatment plan individualized to you.