Quick Tips for Lower Back Pain
Lower back pain has many causes and treatment pathways. Two of the potential causes? 1) core instability, 2) hip/glute immobility. I have a secret: the exercises outlined in this article will benefit mostly everyone, even if you DON'T have lower back issues, so I'm SORT of cheating.
If you are just a curious member of society (with a healthy back), work these exercises - and their variations - into your routine 2-3 times per week and see what effect they have on your daily life and your exercise regimen.
If you DO have lower back issues, I'd recommend working these exercises into your routine every day for 2 weeks and reassessing at that point. Are they helping? Are you engaging the proper muscles? Do you feel your lower back taking over when it shouldn't be? Perhaps at the end of the two weeks you realize that you really need more stability exercises or more soft-tissue mobility and you swap out one of the exercises for another. Use this opportunity to improve your body awareness. It WILL pay off in the long run.
As with anything recommended here - please check with a medical professional if you suspect ANY issues.
1) Plank and plank variations
A few principles should stay consistent in any plank: 1) Pull your bellybutton into your spine, 2) push your heels back to engage your lower body, 3) pull your shoulders down away from your ears, 4) make sure your back is within a neutral range, AKA not sinking down and not sticking up. You should not feel lower back tension during your plank. If you do, reset your position, fight to engage your core and glute muscles, and try again.
Plank variations are a-plenty. I have several of them in my eBooks, including plank...wall taps, shoulder taps, step outs, body saws, mountain climbers, cross climbers, rotations, and so on and so forth. Once you've got a solid foundation for your plank, adding in more balancing exercises and variations is a great idea.
Try working on a plank variation for 1-3 minutes at the beginning or end of your routine.
2) Figure 4 stretch
The figure 4 stretch is a staple. It is a fantastic stretch for loosening up the tight hip and glute muscles - those that tend to shorten after a long day of sitting. There are MANY different ways to attack a figure-4 stretch. In the graphic above, you can see the supine (or lying down, face up) variation. In the video below, I demonstrate a seated dynamic version. The main points of performance are 1) cross one ankle over the other knee, to make a "4" shape, 2) make sure your back is as straight as possible and not over-rounded, as a rounded back is a compensation and will decrease the potency of the stretch.
Start with 1:00 per side of this stretch, and try a few different variations to see which are the most comfortable and most effective for you.
Have a Pain-Free Day!