As someone born with a hemivertabra (a tiny extra bone fragment that tilts my spine out of alignment) I’m aware of the ways lower back pain can restrict your ability to function properly day to day.
I know the feeling of waking up and not being able to stand up straight, of struggling to breathe due to excruciating muscle tightness, of walking hunched over and moving like someone three times your age. But, I also have lived pain free for the last 15+ years.
How do I do it? By using these suggestions to avoid/manage lower back pain:
THE MORNING WARM UP
First thing every morning, I do 2 things. I drink 30 oz of water and I do my routine morning warm up. I go through 10-20 reps of knee raises, huggers, kickbacks, core rotations, squats, and toe touches to make sure my muscles are warm and my body is ready to handle my daily activity.
By warming my body up, I loosen the muscles of my lower back and reduce the risk of injury throughout the day.
STRETCHING AT NIGHT
I know you’ve heard me say this before, but it’s true. At the end of every day, I spend 5-10 minutes stretches my hips to maintain range of motion and flexibility. But wait, those are your back muscles! Well, the pigeon stretch I use on my hips is also known as the ’sciatica stretch’ and helps relieve pressure on the sciatic nerve that often leads to back pain as we age.
Also, stretching the hips improves quality of life an allows you to function more easily, which means taking pressure off your joints (hips, knees, ankles). By keeping your joints safe, we mitigate the risk of other injuries that can contribute to lower back discomfort. We can also use yoga stretches like cat and camel to directly massage our spine and release pressure in our lower back.
HANGING FROM A PULL UP BAR
This is access dependent, but a great way to relieve/prevent lower back pain. Every morning, I hang from my pull up bar for 30-60 seconds to relieve the lumbar spine compression that occurs while I sleep. I can literally feel the muscles in my lumbar spine relaxing the longer I hang.
If you have access to a pull up rack in your gym, I suggest starting by using a chair or bench and bending your knees to allow the stretch to occur. This lessens the stress on your forearm and gripping muscles, and allows those without a surplus of upper body strength to still maximize this stretch.
If you don't have a gym, you can purchase an inexpensive pull up bar that can safely fit above your door frame. Just follow the instructions and use carefully.
USING A LUMBAR SUPPORT IN THE CAR, AT YOUR DESK, OR ANYWHERE YOU SIT
I don’t go anywhere without my lumbar support brace. As someone who spends half their day in the car driving to clients, the lumbar support is a life saver, keeping my posture upright and preventing lumbar spine compression.
You can also use the lumbar support at your work desk or when lounging on the couch to protect your back. You can find any number of great, inexpensive lumbar supports on Amazon, at target, or most home stores like TJ Maxx, Marshalls, etc.
JUST BEING ACTIVE
The best way to maintain overall quality of life and good health is by staying active every day. Going for a walk, doing a strength training workout, or a yoga class is a wonderful way to strengthen your posture, build a strong body, and improve overall health.
Avoiding a sedentary lifestyle is crucial to mitigating injury risk and the deterioration of your health. If you’re new to fitness or looking to increase your activity, start slowly with a goal of 2-3,000 steps per day and increase as your endurance increases.
If you need help increasing your activity, improving your health, or losing weight, book your free personal training session today!