Low Back Pain: How To Get Past It
Written by Thaddeus Taylor
Let’s set the mood…
It’s the day after a big snowstorm where you shovelled not only your driveway but also your 80-year-old neighbour Ms. Harrisons’ because it was the right thing to do. Your alarm goes off and you wake up slightly groggy however fully rested a solid 8 hours of sleep… You take two steps out of bed, throw your arms in the air to perform your routine morning stretch… “OUCH, what the @!#$” you feel this extremely sharp pain in your lower back that makes you want to do nothing but crawl back into bed!
Guess what: YOU’RE NOT ALONE! Experts say that 80 percent of people experience lumbar or low back pain at one point in their lives or another (1). Although the natural reaction to the pain is to want to lay horizontal and do absolutely nothing, studies over the last few years show that a combination of stretching and physical activity is the best way to relieve your pain and make it feel like you’re not carrying the weight of the world around (2).
Below I’ve listed some of the best exercises and stretches that will help reduce that low back pain and get you back to your daily routines without dreading every step.
TIPS BEFORE WE START:
Remember to perform these movements within your level of comfort. You’re likely doing these movements because your back is already in pain, meaning that you are not going to be able to perform them the same way as if you didn’t have pain. While performing just keep in mind that discomfort is okay but stop if it is making the pain worse.
Get to that position of discomfort we talked about, hang out there for 10 seconds, and take a deep breath. If the discomfort is still bearable as you take a deep breath go a little bit further into the movement. Resist the urge to hold your breath as this will just stop oxygen from going to your muscles.
Place your hands and knees on the mat. From this position separate your knees so that they are shoulder-width distance apart. Take a deep breath in. As you breathe out, bring your chest to the floor and sit back into the position as far as you can without pain, essentially placing your butt over your feet. Stay in this position for about 10 seconds while controlling your breathing. Slowly return to the starting position and repeat 5 times.
Place your palms and knees on the mat so that you are down on all-fours, ensuring that your arms palms are under your shoulders. From this position take a deep breath in. (First we are going to hit camel pose)
Camel: As you breathe out slowly you are going to sink your low back down to the ground as you lift your head and force your tailbone up. This will cause an exaggerated “S” curve in your back and two humps like a camel. Sit in this position for about 5 seconds before switching to Cat.
Cat: Take a deep breath, as you breathe out you are going to lower your head into your chest and think about pulling your belly-button away from the mat. At the same time think about lifting your chest away from the ground as well, causing an exaggerated hunched back position. Hold for 5 seconds and repeat 10 times.
Laying on your stomach extend your arms and your legs as straight as they can go. Engage your core (Brace it as if you are wearing a girdle, as opposed to trying to flex your abdominal muscles) In a co-ordinated motion, you are going to lift your left arm and right leg off the ground at the same time. Slowly lower both limbs and repeat with the other side. Repeat 10 times per side.
Laying on your back, push your low back into the ground while keeping your arms and legs in the air (Knees bent at 90 degrees). Core engaged, as you exhale, lower your left arm and right leg towards the ground at the same time. Slowly bring both limbs back up and perform the same movement with the opposite sides. Repeat 10 times.
- American Chiropractic Association, Patients. (n.d.). Retrieved February 18, 2021, from https://www.acatoday.org/Patients/What-is-Chiropractic/Back-Pain-Facts-and-Statistics
- Andrea Schaller, Charalabos-Markos Dintsios, Andrea Icks, Nadine Reibling, Ingo Froboese, Promoting physical activity in low back PAIN patients: Six months follow-up of a randomized controlled trial comparing a MULTICOMPONENT intervention with a low-intensity intervention. Retrieved February 18, 2021, from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27496696/