Introduction

Here at Summit physio, we see a range of people come in with Lower back pain. More specifically we see a lot of clients with pain during flexion movements i.e. bending(putting shoes and socks on) or sitting. Flexion of the lumbar spine is a normal movement! Therefore, we thought it would be helpful to show you a few exercises you can do yourself to help battle the pain!

If flexion movements trigger your pain then we encourage you to focus the exercises on the opposite movement (extension) and avoid the aggravating movement in the short term.

These exercises are for the mobility of the lumbar spine, to increase activation of the stability muscles you need or begin to retrain how you bend. Try these exercises for yourself at home…

Exercise 1: Extension of the spine in prone lying

  1. Start lying on your stomach with your hands at either side of you.
  2. Keep your head in line with your body and push through your arms to lift the head and chest off the floor – This extends the spine.
  3. If it is uncomfortable do not push it too far, then control your chest and head back down to the floor.
  4. Repeat slowly 10 times. You should hopefully find the movement becomes easier and/or the pain is less.

Exercise 2: 4 Point Kneeling

  1. On all fours with arms directly underneath shoulders and knees under hips.
  2. Find a “neutral spine” position by first rounding the back, then arching the back, and finding the 1/2 way position.
  3. Try and keep the spine in this 1/2 way position as you slowly rock back towards the heels.
  4. Continue to keep the spine still as you return to the start position and continue forwards slightly – so your hips are now in front of your knees.
  5. Keep going for 2 minutes – This can take a lot of concentration not to lose your neutral spine!

Exercise 3: Bridge

  1. Lying on your back, knees bent and legs hip-width apart (I’ve placed a foam roller/pillow/folded towel between my knees to increase stability – you might find this easier)
  2. Find the neutral spine position again by tilting the pelvis forwards and backwards, and then hold the 1/2 way position
  3. Maintain this position as you lift your bottom and lower back off the floor – remember to breathe normally.
  4. You can either raise up and down slowly or raise and hold at the top for anything up to 2 minutes.

We are focusing on the glutes in the buttock here – great for lower back problems!

Exercise 4: Marching Leg Taps

  1. lying on your back, knees bent and legs hip-width apart.
  2. Find the neutral spine position to start with then maintain this as you slowly raise one foot off the floor.
  3. Lower it down again and repeat the other side. Continue for 2 minutes.
  4. The aim of this exercise is to lift the foot without moving the spine and still breathing normally.
  5. I have placed my hands underneath my back to feel for any unwanted movement. The other option is to rest your fingertips over the front of your pelvis bones to check they don’t move when you lift or lower the leg.

We are working the lower abdominal muscles here that sit close to the pelvis and lumbar spine – it can be harder than it looks!

Exercise 5: Hip Hinge

This exercise is to retrain you to bend using your hips to give your lower back the rest it needs whilst there is pain.

  1. Standing tall, shoulder blades back.
  2. I have used a stick against my back to feel for any unwanted movement. The aim is to keep your head, upper back and tail bone in contact with the stick throughout the exercise.
  3. Slowly bend forwards at the hips whilst driving the buttock backwards to counterbalance – imagine bowing to the Queen!
  4. If you focus on not dropping the head or rounding the shoulder blades and keeping a small amount of tension down the spine that is usually enough that the back will not round.
  5. Bend as low as is comfortable and by all means bend the knees if it helps.
  6. To straighten up you need to focus on pushing the hips forwards and your upper body will naturally return to an upright position.
  7. Repeat for 2 minutes.

Conclusion

if your lower back pain is too acute that it is stopping you from doing any of these exercises then just move in any way you can. This could be as simple as shifting your weight from one leg to another or getting in and out of a chair repeatedly. Movement is always important to help reduce pain!

If in doubt book an assessment or speak to your GP.!

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If you’d like some further advice on your injury, give us a call: 0800 731 2738