Do you experience back pain during certain activities in your life? Are you constantly exploring the internet for back pain relief? You’re not alone. Experts estimate that 80% of Americans will have symptoms of back pain at some point in their life (ACA). Eighty percent seems like a daunting number. Americans are more likely to experience back pain then they are likely to get in a car accident. Unlike a car accident, back pain can be remedied under your control with the right guidance. It’s time to take back control and as we say at Road to Recovery Physical Therapy, live life on your own terms. Keep reading along to get the relief you need from your own home.
- Core Work
When we think of our ab muscles we think of a six pack. What we don’t realize is our deeper core muscles actually attach to our spine. By strengthening the core as a whole we can protect our back and help alleviate some of the pain. Check out the simple core exercise below called a plank.
- Thoracic Mobility Work
The spine is sectioned off into four parts – the cervical spine (neck region), the thoracic spine (mid region behind the ribs), the lumbar spine (low back region) and the sacral spine (tail bone region). Our thoracic spines are designed to rotate, bend and extend. They’re designed to be flexible. Typically this section is very stiff in people. Usually there is an imbalance of mobility in the upper region or lower region that compensates for a stiff thoracic spine. Stiffness creates pain. Check out the simple mobility exercise below called Cat-Cow.
- Glute Strengthening
The glutes, the scientific name for your buttocks, are composed of three muscles: the gluteus maximus, gluteus medius, and gluteus minimus. “These muscles play a key role in facilitating daily activities. The glute muscles impact the lower spine directly as they are positioned directly above the lower pelvis. Weak, underactive, or tight glutes can cause biomechanical imbalances in the pelvis and hips, as well as instability in the lower spine” says Physical Therapist Renuka Wadhawa. Below Exercise Specialists, Sonia and Chelsey demonstrate a simple glute strengthening exercise
- Find your Movement Directional Preference
Most spinal injuries have a directional movement preference depending on what your doctor given diagnosis is. What does that mean? Well, your spine is flexible. Most exercises concentrate on moving forward, flexion, or backward, extension, depending on the injury. According to Road To Recovery Physical Therapist, Happy Patel, Injuries such as Osteoporosis, Scheuermann’s Disease and Ankylosing Spondylitis are all extension biased. This means exercises that focus on extending your back relieve pain. Spondylolisthesis is flexion biased meaning your back pain will feel better with exercises focused on moving forward such as a toe touch. Herniated Discs can be flexion or extension biased. If your back pain feels better after touching your toes or doing a child’s pose you are most likely flexion biased. If your back pain feels better arching backwards, you are most likely extension biased. It is recommended you consult a physical therapist to determine your movement preference. Happy Patel demonstrates some common exercises we use below.
- Flexion based:
- Extension based:
- Sciatic Nerve Glide
Your sciatic nerve is the source of back pain that radiates down the leg. It is the nerve involved with the common back injury, Sciatica. When the root of the sciatic nerve is compressed it can cause numbness and tingling, weakness and radiating pain in your lower back and leg. A nerve glide can help reduce pain by giving a gentle stretch to the nerve and increase the nerve’s range of motion. Nerve glide’s achieve the best results when combined with other therapeutic techniques from a licensed physical therapist. Below, Road to Recovery Therapist, Rashmi, demonstrates a Sciatic Nerve Glide.