By Tim Ong BCAK-RK, BSc, BCRPA- PT
These are my top 5 suggestions, in no particular order, for ways to reduce low back pain. I find that it’s always worthwhile to try the easy fixes first rather than jumping to conclusions.
- Get off that Chair
Sitting for extended periods of time usually enhances lower back discomfort due to poor posture, weak glute muscles and tight hamstrings. Instead, try to find ways to take small breaks that force you to stand and/or walk around throughout the day.
- Reduce the Anterior Pelvic Tilt
Aunt who?! Anterior Pelvic Tilt happens when your spine doesn’t maintain neutral position. This could be due to genetic reasons or bad habits and can cause your lower back to cave in towards the front. Try performing a “dead bug with ball” exercise on the floor to strengthen the muscles that are weak while maintaining a neutral spine or flat back. Also, remember to engage your glutes and abdominals while carrying or lifting anything heavy so your spine isn’t doing all of the work.
- Stop Using Your Lower Back to do Things
Your lower back is like your best friend who helps you out anytime you can’t quite do a movement or lift properly. The problem here is if you always rely on it, you may end up abusing it and not even know it. Practice “engaging your core” when doing a plank. Try to concentrate on feeling the tension at the front of your stomach rather than the lower back. Be progressive and aim for 20-30 seconds to start, making sure to use proper form.
- Strengthen and Lengthen the Glutes
Strong glutes support the low back by allowing you to use the much bigger muscle to perform movements and lifts properly. Exercises like the bridge and clam shell, are a great way to get proper glute activation and strengthening. On the flip side, if your glutes are super tight, stretching might be the way to go. Stretching hamstrings, latissimus dorsi (upper back muscles), quadratus lumborum (deep low back) and erector spinae muscles of the lower back area is also recommended.
- Don’t Forget the Hip Flexors
People don’t realize that tight hip flexors, usually caused by lots of sitting, can also contribute to back pain. Performing hip flexor stretches, foam rolling, or self-myo-fascial release with a lacrosse ball on the area can significantly reduce your pain. Pain is not gain in this scenario so ease off the pressure if it’s too much. Consistency and duration are more important than intensity for desired results.