By Dr. John Schott PT, DPT
Low back pain is experienced by nearly all of us at some point in our lives. The root cause of it varies greatly from person to person. Sometimes it can be as simple as a muscle strain or something more serious like compression of a nerve or herniation of a lumbar disc.
In the case of acute low back pain, where you “throw your back out” a common symptom is severe stiffness that prevents you from doing something like bending forward to put on your shoes. The best way to get some relief to this stiffness is to get muscles in the immediate area around your low back to relax, mobilize your lumbar vertebrae, and exercise your core musculature. Here are three foundational exercises to get your low back feeling better right away:
Pelvic tilts are a great way to start with getting some mobility into your lumbar spine. Lie down on your back (preferably on a moderately firm surface) with your knees bent. The idea with this exercise is to simply rock your pelvis back and forth on the ground. To do this, start with pushing your low back into the ground (hold for 3 seconds). Then do the opposite, try to arch your back away from the ground (rocking your pelvis forward). This movement should be done slowly while moving back and forth. If you have low back pain when your first wake up in the morning try doing this to start your day!
Bird Dog’s are excellent for core strengthening. Start on your hands and knees on a moderately firm surface. To begin the exercise, brace your core as if someone was about to punch you in the stomach. As you hold that brace, one arm and the opposite leg (e.g. right arm, left leg) will kick out at the same time. Hold for about 3 seconds and then return to starting position. Make sure to hold your abdominal brace through the entire movement!
McGill Curl Up
This exercise is similar to the pelvic tilt, but slightly more difficult. Lie down on your back with one knee bent, the other leg straight, and your hands in the curve of your low back. We want to activate our lower abdominals by pushing our low back down into our hands. Then we slowly lift our chest up towards the ceiling. The key here is to lift your chest straight up, do not just lift your head up towards your chest. Hold for about 3 seconds and then relax.
All of these exercises should not aggravate your low back pain symptoms. They can be performed multiple times a day and start with 10 repetitions for 3 sets.
Check out our video at the top of the blog to see how these exercises should be performed. Follow us on Facebook, Instagram (@balanceptmove), and YouTube for more exercise videos and educational content!