At this point I think most of us have either complained about our “sore back” or have heard someone in our life complain about the same. Lower back pain, in particular, is the world’s leading cause of disability and missed work. That alarming fact is making low back pain a hot topic and one that deserves a lot of attention.
The vast majority of low back pain is due to mechanical or non-organic causes. Which basically means that most of the time we have no idea why our back is in pain or what caused it. Often there is no specific injury that we can blame nor was there likely any trauma, it usually just “comes out of nowhere.” Chances are 50/50 that you or someone you know will experience low back pain this year!
Alright, now that I have you attention I’m sure you’re wondering “what can I do to deal with the back pain I currently have?” For those of you who have never experienced low back pain (lucky you) you’re question is probably “what can I do to prevent low back pain from ever getting to me?”
I’m going to break that all down for you right here. Your 4 part routine to controlling your back pain and working towards a life free of back pain:
Step 1 – Be more aware!
Have you ever taken a look at yourself in the mirror and noticed that you like to lean on one side? Is one shoulder higher than the other? Do you like to put all of your weight on one leg? If you answered yes to one of these questions, I know I did, the next question you need to answer is what posture do you assume for the majority of your day? That posture becomes habit and puts pressure on certain parts of your body and less on others. So the solution is BE MORE AWARE.
Step 2 – Create mobility in your spine
You may have hear that the secret to a better back is increasing your core strength. This is definitely true as a more stable core will give your back a better platform to take on life’s challenges. However, stability is half the battle. The other half is making sure your spine is MOBILE.
As much as your core needs to be strong it also needs to be able to move well and move under control. Often our spines are faced with the challenge of having to be put in provocative positions for prolonged periods of time simply due to the realities of day-to-day life. So we have to do more to prepare our spines to be in these compromising positions. The best way to do that is to introduce these positions to your back so when you get in them your brain is aware and comfortable of what these positions look and feel like. That way your brain will be better prepared to set your back up for success.
Here in this video I break down the amazing and underutilized tool being the cat/cow. This drill is an amazing way to mobilize your spine and get better control of your pelvis, which is a huge player in low back pain.
CONTROL YOUR PELVIS TO CONTROL YOUR BACK PAIN [Back pain advice] Before we get rolling with PART 1 in your 4 PART ANTERIOR PELVIC TILT FIX. Let’s visit pelvic control as many of the tools we will be going over in the next couple of posts will require you to master this movement first. It takes some practice but once you get it down pat it will unlock your potential to control your pelvic tilt and not let it control you Many of you will feel like you don’t have control of this movement at first. Trust me neither did I. It takes reps to get in control. But getting in control is imperative to controlling your back pain Work on this slowly performing 10 reps both ways moving back and forth between anterior pelvic tilt and posterior pelvic tilt. Take inventory of what being in both positions feels like-comfort, discomfort, ease, difficulty etc. Swipe ⬅ for a vid of the pelvic movement being performed. Once you feel like you have control then you’re ready for PART 1. Stay plugged✌. . . #myodetox #futureproofyourbody #wordsandideasyoucouldfeel
Step 3 – Have a self release routine
There are many muscles that contribute to lower back pain. Tension in many areas of the body can create a lot of overload on the back. There is only so much your lower back can handle, it already has to deal with the stressors of lifting, sitting and standing for prolonged periods. All of these tasks put stress on your back and in the process many muscles start to develop tension and pulls your body into all types of unwanted positions.
Your best way to fight back against tension is to have a couple of self-release tools that you could utilize to alleviate tension your muscles build up. The tensor fascia latae, better known as your TFL, is an important muscle that gets shortened very easily throughout a day of prolonged sitting or even standing.
Here are 2 videos where I breakdown more on this particular muscle and an effective way you could self-release tension in you TFLs and take pressure off of your lower back.
BACK PAIN FIX PART 1 [Anterior pelvic tilt advice] As promised here is PART 1 of your 4 PART ANTERIOR PELVIC TILT toolbox⛏. After these 4 tools you will feel more empowered to take control of your back pain and get your pelvis in a better position to help offload the tension in your lower back Here in the we are addressing the TFL. Really quickly let’s breakdown what a TFL even is and why it seems like every manual therapist in the seems to care about it We all mention it because it’s important to address. So TFL is short for TENSOR FASCIA LATAE. It gets its name mostly because it literally tenses your IT BAND (fascia) to create movement. It acts to do a couple things in addition namely assist in bringing your knee to your chest and bringing your leg away from your body. Above all it works tirelessly to help keep your hips stable Take a look at where it is in the pic on the top left. You could start to appreciate how tension of the TFL could drag your hips down and forward creating an anterior tilt but more importantly overloads your low back In this we go over a quick self release technique with a lacrosse ball to help decrease the tone in this muscle Hang out on the ball, move around, look for tension/discomfort and stay there for a couple seconds waiting for the sensation to decrease then move on. Honestly don’t over think it JUST DO IT and stick with it for a couple weeks Work on both sides for 1min daily. I think we could all agree our backs deserve 2 mins of our busy day✌ PART 2 coming at you soon. Going to move on to learning how to use your TFL less which = looser hips. Stay plugged #myodetox #futureproofyourbody
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BACK PAIN FIX PART 1b [Anterior pelvic tilt advice] Here is a little more advanced and a little more effective version to the TFL self release in the last post It’s kind of a combo of the last two posts. Once you feel comfortable with the TFL release and you have a couple reps of the cat/camel under your belt (check out the last 2 posts to catch up) you’re ready for a little harder but more effective TFL release So this time you’re going to get your TFL on the ball just like in the last post but you’re going to add a little twist. You’re going to POSTERIOR TILT while you’re on the ball So you are basically going to cat/camel while you lie on the ball. Since the goal is to bring you into more of a posterior tilt and get you closer to a more neutral and even pelvis you may as well tilt while you release Hang out on the ball for 10 tilts/side and see how you feel✌ As always don’t over think it. Just lie on the ball, rock your hips back and forth. Stick with it for a couple of weeks and see how it creates a change in your body and the way you feel #myodetox #futureproofyourbody #wordsandideasyoucouldfeel
Step 4: Your glute strength is key
Your glute strength and your back pain have a lot in common. The more force you could generate through your glutes the more protection you could offer your back. Usually when we think about glute strength one of the first exercises that comes to mind is the squat. The squat is an amazing way to build glute strength. But with that being said it’s a challenging way to develop glute strength, not to mention if you are currently in low back pain it may aggravate your low back more in the process. So the goal is to strengthen your glutes in easier and less intense ways.
The fire hydrant demonstrated here is an incredible way to increase glute strength and give your lower back more support. Being on all fours is a very safe position for your lower back and allows you to build up glute strength without worrying too much about the complexities of form, foot placement, depth and all of the other variables that come along with squatting and other complicated movements. By no means am I saying don’t squat; I’m saying add more tools to your toolbox when it comes to building glute strength.
LOW BACK PAIN? POOR SQUAT DEPTH? THIS IS FOR YOU [Exercise advice] As we keep rolling with our low back pain tools here is an exercise to help you on your journey In this I’m joined by our newest #myodetox therapist Steph. We breakdown the concept behind the effectiveness of the FIRE HYDRANT exercise and how to tweak your execution of it. Adding this format to this common exercise increases pelvic stability, glute endurance and hip mobility SWIPE ⬅ FOR THE BREAKDOWN AND THE EXERCISE VIDEOS INSTRUCTIONS . . Get in the all fours position. . Put something on your back to give you a cue to not rotate or tilt too much. . Raise your leg out to the side as high as you can without dropping what’s on your back . Hold for 10s for 3 sets/side . . As you improve your hip mobility and increase your glute strength and capacity your lower back will thank you a million times over #myodetox #futureproofyourbody
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There you have it, your 4 part routine to taking control of your back pain. Move well, move often, have a regimen, have patience and know that your battle against low back pain is a life long journey but being equipped with the tools makes the journey that much more enjoyable.
- American Chiropractic Association
- Vallfors B. Acute, Subacute and Chronic Low Back Pain: Clinical Symptoms, Absenteeism and Working Environment. Scan J Rehab Med Suppl 1985; 11: 1-98.