Low back pain gets in the way of so much: your workout, your day and your fun, just to name a few. In this article, we are going to look at non-acute low back pain and how to interrupt the pain before it ruins your day or your activity. If you have an acute back injury, such as when reaching for something in your trunk and “pow” you feel intense pain, get some help from a medical professional as soon as possible.
The hacks you will learn in this article are for those of you who experience pain in your low back when you stand for a bit or feel stiffness in your legs or outer hips when you walk a certain distance or when you are sitting or when you first stand up. If you have everyday situations where your low back nags you, it becomes pretty oppressive and chips away at your well-being.
The small movements that are presented here can make a tremendous difference. I just got off the phone with a client, Julie, who recently returned from an amazing three-week trip to London and Scotland. Julie came to me in January this year after a really rough year caring for, and then burying, her father.
At the time that she contacted me, she was out of town helping a friend with three children to survive the loss of her husband. Julie was, therefore, experiencing so much heartache and drama in a short time span. She was unable to stand for more than a minute without low back pain and was unable to walk even a block comfortably. We began her program with the following small strengthening and pain-soothing exercises. Three months later, she walked 18,000 steps on a sunny day in London! (She rested for the next couple of days.)
The trick with these low back pain hacks is to implement them at the first sign of trouble, or better yet, if you know your current limits, implement the hacks to avoid the pain.
Do a sitting exercise.
If your legs feel wooden or your outer hips hurt or your low back is achy, sit for a minute. Consciously breathe in and breathe out. Sit at the first sign of trouble and you will only need a minute or even 30 seconds. If you keep going and do not rest, your pain will likely worsen and then become harder to soothe or resolve. Search for me on YouTube to find a great sitting exercise called a Tush Tilt that will ease low back pain while you build core strength.
Lean against a wall or tree.
If there is no place to sit, lean against a wall or a tree. Consciously take a few restorative breaths.
Perform a “Leaning Tilt.”
Here is a specific way to lean that will add soothing motion and build core strength. Place your feet shoulder width apart about 2 feet from the wall. Let your butt settle against the wall and bend your knees a little. Breathe in and lift your ribcage, then exhale as you press your low back towards the wall and squeeze your butt. Be gentle about this. Just let your body move while you think “motion is lotion.”
Do a “Flop Over.”
If you are not shy, find a bench or low wall and do a supported forward bend (hands or forearms on the bench) to stretch your hamstring and calf muscles and release your low back. I do not recommend bending forward and reaching for your toes without support.
Perform a “Football Huddle.”
If there is no place to sit or lean, try this. Take a wide stance, stick your butt out and bend your knees with your hands on your thighs. Keep your eyes forward. You will look like the guys in the football huddle. In that position, you can squeeze your butt and do some pelvic tilts, both of which are soothing. It is important to squeeze your butt and push off your thighs as you return to an upright position.
Do “Standing Fidgets.”
If you are standing for a time, fidget. Shift your weight from leg to leg, squeezing your butt on the leg you are shifting to. Inhale and lift your ribcage; exhale and squeeze your butt. If you are not shy, do some hip circles to loosen up. Start fidgeting right away to avoid the standing stiffness.
Take time to try out these moves so you can experience less low back pain and not let it limit your life.
Cinder Ernst, Medical Exercise Specialist and Life Coach Extraordinaire, helps reluctant exercisers get moving with safe, effective and fun programs. Her book, “Easy Fitness for the Reluctant Exerciser” (http://cinderernst.com/easy-fitness-book/), is available in paperback and E-book. She specializes in fitness and rehab for plus-size clients, but her stress-free approach is suitable for all. Find out more at http://cinderernst.com.
As seen in the San Francisco Bay Times: http://sfbaytimes.com/low-back-pain-relief-hacks/