6 Exercises That Stop Back Pain
Updated: Jul 17
An astonishing number of Australians deal with back pain on a daily basis and quite simply, that should not be the case! This post has been developed to provide you with the know-how to stretch, activate and move all the parts of your body that commonly cause this issue. It is not just you feeling this pain, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics:
"3.7 Million Australians have back problems. It is estimated that 70-90% of people with suffer from lower back pain in their lifetime."
Movement patterns are essentially how are bodies move. They are developed through repetition, or lack thereof, and are ingrained as our default patterns. Have you ever hurt your ankle and had to adapt how you walk to ease the pain? This is an instant change in your movement pattern and believe it or not, we have all made minuscule pattern changes over the years. Now think of activities you do throughout the day, Maybe you work in an office which requires you to sit at a desk all day, maybe you activate some muscles repeatedly while others almost never. In many cases these patterns are less than ideal causing joints to move poorly (or in the same way too often) which results in inflammation and pain. As you can now gather these poor movement patterns can set you up for an injury, cause wear and tear to the spine or even inflame the muscles surrounding the back. This leads to the pain that many people experience on a day to day basis. You will be happy to hear that the pain due to poor movement and muscle recruitment patterns can be corrected with the right corrective stretching, exercise techniques and even dietary adjustments.
In my experience when training people with chronic back pain, the symptoms were rarely due to injury, or at least the initial injury was a long time ago. Here is the good news. I have identified three common reasons why people have chronic back pain, and techniques that you can implement to improve it.
3 MAIN REASONS
Over-Active Hips & Weak Core
Tight Hips & Weak Glutes
How we eat greatly influences our health in many ways and one of them is how "inflamed" our bodies become. A diet that is high in "pro-inflammatory" foods tends to make susceptible joints and areas of the body hurt. Pro-inflammatory foods include those that people commonly have intolerances to. When you have a food intolerance this means your body has a low level immune reaction.
Intolerances are an immune reaction your body increases its inflammatory markers to mount up a defence. If you are or have ever experienced any of these symptoms after eating it may have been caused by something you just consumed. This pro inflamed state makes everything feel more stiff and makes areas that are susceptible to pain hurt more.
Over eating can also increase systemic inflammation so try to eat less as well. I am surprised at how many people actually eliminate most of their pain from these dietary changes alone.
Pain, Fatigue, Digestive Issues, Brain Fog, and Sleep Problems just to name a few.
Pro-inflammatory foods to avoid
Gluten, Dairy, Eggs, Corn, Soy, Processed Sugar, Alcohol, Processed Vegetable Oils
Foods that reduce Inflammation
Whole Grains, Natural Foods, Vegetables, Fruit and Fatty Fish like Salmon
The following lists were gathered from this source: (Roma Pahwa, Ishwarial Jailal, Chronic Inflammation. 2018 Oct 28)
OVER ACTIVE HIPS & WEAK CORE
In todays society it is incredibly common to see people with tight hip flexors. This is likely due to the fact that we sit most of the day in a seated position, this shortens our hip flexors and due to the length of time they sit in this position, they tend to tighten and stay shortened. Combine those tight hip flexors with a lack of abdominal, oblique and inner core muscle strength and you have a recipe for back pain. If this is you, the solution is NOT to go and do sit ups. If you do you will activate your hip flexors while your core muscles play second fiddle. This will only make the problem worse. Here are a few exercises known as the McGill Big 3(Dr Stuart McGill, Backfitpro.2019) that you can use to activate and strengthen your core.
Modified McGill Curl Up
TIGHT HIPS & WEAK GLUTES
Anytime someone mentions back pain you can usually factor in that they will have tight hips. Loosening up the hips will allow the joints to move more freely, this means the lower back is not forced to compensate.
An easy way to stretch out the hips is a Seated Leg Crossover hip stretch which can be done at your desk. I usually recommend to clients that work at a desk all day to perform this stretch every 30 minutes and the results are almost always great. This stretch targets the lateral hip muscles as well as the Piriformis Glute muscle.
Seated Glute Stretch
When addressing the Glutes, these two exercises are my favourite for activation and strengthening. The Glute Bridge for the Gluteus Maximus and the Clam Shell for the Gluteus Medius. The Strength and mobility of these two muscles are very important to the bodies movement patterns.
In summary, if you work on eating a low inflammatory diet, focus on improving your Core/Glute strength and regularly stretch out tight hips you should see some reductions in pain. Keep in mind that everyone is different and whilst the above advice will help most people, some of you may not gain relief. In stubborn cases a more individualised approach may be needed.
Author: Pakau Morgan
Prime PT Health & Fitness