Three of the most common questions we get at PEAK Physical Therapy in regards to Back Pain are: Can My Back Pain Be “Fixed’?; What are the Best Exercises for Back Pain?; How Do I Prevent Back Pain?
Most back pain can be resolved once the primary issue has been determined and embarking upon the correct course of treatment including exercises, limiting trauma to your back, and proper preventive measures.
This post contains vital information that can not only help you now but in the future as well. You don’t have to suffer with back pain. Read and get some answers. After you finish reading this post and should you have any questions, please contact us for answers.
What Are Common Causes of Back Pain?
There is both a simple yet a complex answer for this question. The simple answer can be due to a single factor and any combination of the following:
* Compressed or Pinched Nerve
* Spasmodic Muscle
* Disc Herniation
* Neural Tension
* Bone Spur
Any single or combination of the previously stated can cause your back pain.
The complex answer is…What is specifically causing your back pain?
What Is The Cause Of My Back Pain?
Unfortunately, a simple test by a medical individual is not likely to determine your back pain. Back pain as stated before can be complex but not if you are armed with some basic knowledge.
Write down and keep a log of when you have your back pain. We instruct our patients that they should keep a Pain Log ( if you would like a Free Pain log, click here to give us your email and we will send one).
A Pain Log is helpful for a few reasons. First, you can see a pattern of what may be causing your back pain. Second, you also see what may not be causing you pain that you previously thought did. Finally, if you need to go see a specialist, a physical therapist for instance, about your back pain, you are able to provide valuable information.
Once you find the cause from keeping your pain log, now you can embark on the journey of healing.
The first ‘back exercise’ is to reduce trauma and irritation to your back thus causing continuation of your back pain.
Ways to Reduce Back Pain
Your pain log will show what positions, movements, activities cause your back pain. Now, you just have to listen to your body and don’t aggravate your back unnecessarily. This is the same advice we give in the clinic.
Dr. Karel Lewit, Czech neurologist who is commonly referred to as the Father of Manual Medicine, once stated: “The first treatment is to teach the patient to avoid what harms them.”
Stay away from what harms you. It’s that simple.
Failing to listen to your body, is a recipe for continued back pain and back problems.
Best Exercises for Back Pain
So you have been searching for the best exercises for back pain? Stop! We have what you have been looking for – The Best Exercises For Back Pain:
Lying down is a simple exercise but for many it is extremely difficult. Sometimes our back pain is from excessive improper movements thus causing too much stress and back trauma. Our back may just need to be placed in an unloaded non-compressive spinal position so it can heal. Let the irritation and inflammation subside.
And if you don’t think laying down is an exercise, you are wrong. It’s not a conventional exercise as most view it. It’s an exercise in not doing anything. Which is significantly more difficult in continuous movement.
Go ahead and try to lie still on your back or tummy without moving for 10 minutes. Just be and let your body completely relax. Let me know how it went.
Back Exercise #1: Lying Down for 10’ – Six times per day
Walking is simply one of the best initial recovery exercises for back pain. Have you heard of ‘bed rest’ for back pain? It is a common recommendation by medical doctors for back pain but it is the worst thing you can do!
The body is built to move, not rest, decay and become deconditioned. Deconditioning makes us weaker, less mobile, less resilient, and less capable. How is this a good strategy for back pain? Walking prevents this.
Walking allows for low level muscle activation, gentle pumping of healthy fluids in and out of joints, beneficial movement of tissues and blood-flow, maintains balance & coordination to name a few.
And for most of us, walking is our most basic mode of transportation and is essential to us being mobile. Walk your way out of pain and into health!
Back Exercise #2: Easy Walking for 20’ – Three times per day
No, you shouldn’t sit and watch television. There is nothing therapeutic about that. Actually, sitting and watching too much television may caused you your back pain in the first place.
“TV Watching’ is the lay persons term for ‘up on elbows’. You get into position by laying on the floor on your tummy. Lift your upper body up off the floor while resting up on your elbows. You can hold your head up or like we used to do as kids since there wasn’t enough room on the sofa with the adults, we rested our head on our hands.
Before attempting this exercise, make sure you can perform the lying down exercise as prescribed above with any pain problems.
Back Exercise #3: TV Watching for 2’ – Six times per day
Hip Mobility Drills
Mobile hips are very important. If the hips don’t move well, all that lack of movement overly stresses your back. The back is designed to be a stable system not excessively mobile set of joints.
To keep happy, healthy, and mobile hips, knees to chest exercise is a great start. There are two versions: Single Knee to Chest (SKC) and Double Knees to Chest (DKC).
Single Knee to Chest (SKC) is just like it sounds. Lie on your back and pull one knee to your chest while the opposite leg is straight along the ground. Hold for the prescribed time. Put your leg back down next to your other limb. Repeat on contralateral leg. Repeat for prescribe number of repetitions.
Double Knees to Chest (DKC) is just like it sounds. While lying on your back, pull both knees to your chest and hold for the prescribed time and repetitions. If you are in severe back pain, you can keep your knees bent the entire time causing you to rest your feet during the relation phase of the movement.
To reduce back pain, a simple exercise for your back actually focuses on mobilizing your hips.
Back Exercise #4a: Single Knee To Chest or 30 sec. for Hold – 3 Repetitions per leg 4 times per day
Back Exercise #4b: Double Knee to Chest for 30 sec. Hold – 3 Repetitions per leg 4 times per day
With chronic or prolonged back pain, muscles become deconditioned and weak. This not only happens to back muscles but neighboring muscle groups as well. This especially happens to the gluteals.
Gluteals become deconditioned quickly and even more so if you are sedentary. If the gluteals become overly weak, then the body excessively recruits nearby muscles (ie low back muscles) to perform necessary movements.
To keep the gluteals active, hip lifts are beneficial exercise. A hip lift is performed by lying down on the floor with your knees bent at 90º, feet & knees together, and hips resting on the floor. Lift your hips up and hold. Repeat for prescribed amount (See below).
To keep moving forward toward eliminating your back pain, make sure you have your ‘butt’ in gear! Perform gluteal hip lifts.
Back Exercise #5: Hip Lifts – 15 Repetitions for 4 sec. hold 4 times per day
Should you find any of these exercises painful or not helpful, contact us to schedule a meeting with a physical therapist who specializes in back pain. You may need more assistance and guidance than a home remedy.
Ways to Prevent Back Pain
The best way to prevent back pain, as you may have guessed, is to perform the exercises that got you better. You just need to be consistent.
Make sure you aren’t putting excessive and unnatural loads through your spine and tissues by being in repeated poor postures and motions. Your back does not tolerate excessive flexion, extension, and/or rotation movements so avoid these as best you can.
And get up and move. Especially if your lifestyle consists of excessive sitting. We recommend once every 20 minutes.
It’s that simple.
Wrap Up – Best Exercises For Back Pain
While having back pain can be complex, the exercises previously listed are a good place to start.
A few additional points need to be made.
If you have had continued back pain and if self-treatment exercises have not helped after 2 weeks, please get a movement professional (ie physical therapist) to properly diagnose and assess you.
If you have had continued back pain and if your self-treatments have not made a difference in your pain or motion, it may not be due to a back problem. Make an appointment and go see a movement physical therapist.
Don’t seek out the sexiest, latest & greatest, and ‘hot’ exercises as treatment for your back pain. Usually, the simplest and mundane work the best.
Finally, keep a record of your self treatments. If you don’t, you won’t be consistent and able to determine patterns of what works and what doesn’t, your progression, and in time if you go see a movement physical therapist, they will be able to give recommendations and guidance based on your treatment records.
Most importantly, go slow, give your body time to acclimate, and be kind to yourself.
You don’t have to Live with Your Back Pain
Our mission at PEAK Physical Therapy is to make people better! We treat individuals, just like you, who have chronic to recent back pain. You don’t have to suffer. Whether you need help with a diagnosis, functional medical advice, or want a second, or third or more, opinion and vantage point, remember we are always here to help you.
Don’t delay, appointments times are limited.
If you want to live an Active, Independent, Dynamic, & Enjoyable Life without back pain and are not getting answers and no-one can find what is causing your pain & problems – Choose Physical Therapy. And, If You Need Physical Therapy and You Want Your Health To Last…Choose PEAK PT FIRST!™
Until We Chat Again…
Be & Stay Well!
Sasha Digges PT, ATC, CSCS
Senior PhysioTherapist & Clinical Director
We’re here to help with your Back Pain…
If you would like to speak with a Physical Therapist, schedule a Meet & Greet or a physical therapy evaluation, please click here to complete our contact us form or CALL us at 757-564-7381.