Easy Remedies for Low Back Pain - Exercises, Stretches and Treatment
Dealing with constant lower back pain? There's a lot of reasons that could explain why you may be having it - but more importantly here are some remedies, solutions and treatments to help resolve any stiffness or constant lower back pain you've been feeling.
It's all in the Lower Back.
Low back pain sucks! There’s just so many ways that we could describe what it feels like to have it.
I occasionally will have it every now and then – likely because of many factors, the same factors that anyone else would have to take into consideration when contemplating the origins of low back pain.
Exercise, Diet, Sleep, Day-to-day Posture, Activity levels – these are all things that can affect how your low back pain experience is.
Sometimes there might not be a pathoanatomical reason as to why your back is hurting – as in, if any imaging were done – they might not find anything.
The reason for this lies in the fact that pain is brain.
We can only feel because our nervous system has the capacity to – without it, I could whip a boulder at your back and you wouldn’t feel a thing (although I would hope it wouldn’t have to come to that!).
Sometimes our nerves or the environment supporting the nerves can have issues that need addressing. After all, you’d be grumpy too if your house was a complete mess wouldn’t you (well, maybe)?
Manual therapy, exercises and other interventions can address and re-correct those issues to resolve that unidentified, mysterious and irritating pain.
Let’s first talk a little about the anatomy of the lower back – yes I know, it might sound boring – but this is you we’re talking about! Basically everyone has a lower back, and if you have pain their, you should know a bit more about it!
Important Anatomy you should know!
Here’s some relevant anatomy that you probably need to know about when it comes to your own body, especially if we want to create a plan of action to tackle this pain!
Image Reference: Complete Anatomy App – Erector Spinae Group (The muscles surrounding our spine right in the middle!)
Here we have the Erector Spinae Group – a set of muscles that all the way from your low back into your head! Amazing isn’t it?!
These set of muscles are responsible for exactly what they sound like – keep your spine, erect – or straight! I know you know what I mean.
In any case, these muscles work tirelessly all the time to keep you upright, as us humans have evolved to do. It’s because of this, that it becomes quite easy for this muscle to start feeling achy and painful!
Image Reference: Complete Anatomy App – Quadratus Lumborum
Next up we have the infamous QL – short for Quadratus Lumborum. This muscle here is the one that you see connecting from the top of the hips into the last little rib on either side of the body in the image above.
This deeply situated muscle helps us with rotating and side-bending our low backs, and a few other things as well.
These muscles can become quite painful when filled with muscle knots (whether in the actual muscle itself or the surrounding fascia).
Since it’s such a deep muscle, it can become annoyingly difficult to try to release without someone’s help, which is where having someone massage you can become a glaringly unavoidable option!
Remedies for Lower Back Pain!
Those were just two sets of muscles of all the bountiful and plentiful ones that exist in our low back, or play a role in our lower back qualms.
We’ll cover the rest another time in another blog post – however, knowing these two ones just to start can help immensely! Remember that knowledge is power!
Without further delay – let’s get you into the meaty part of this post – the solutions, the remedies, the fixes; basically what you need to do for yourself to help rid yourself of this achiness, permanently!
It’s always a good idea to check in with your health care professional to make sure that you’re safe to perform these exercises so that you don’t hurt yourself and/or neglect yourself of care that you could be getting in-person. What we discuss in this post isn’t a substitute for medical advice – and is for educational purposes only!
To start off – mobility exercises, motions that help increase your (pain-free) range of motion, the amount that your musculoskeletal system can move into without being in pain or becoming ‘stuck’.
We should mobilize our bodies dynamically before anything else – especially before heading towards doing any form of strengthening exercise.
A light warmup in the form of a cardio exercise like running, skipping, dancing or what have you not will DEFINITELY help too. A little more blood flowing throughout your body will do you some good!
Classic Cat Cow! This is a yoga pose that you do while on your hands and knees. You can choose what part of the spine to isolate if you have an area that you’d like to focus on.
Typically when you see cats stretch – you see the middle of their spine go up, that’s the thoracic spine! We want to target the lumbar spine as well, to help with this, you can also go on your elbows instead of your hands.
However the most important part is to try and isolate the low back with a mind-muscle connection! Really focus on the part of your back you want to stretch outwards!
For the Cow portion of this yoga pose, you want to pretend to let your stomach drop down to the floor, and let your hips and glutes stick outwards, while keeping your head up!
Child’s Pose into Cobra – another effective combination of yoga poses!
For the Child’s Pose, get onto your hands and knees, and lean back until your buttocks are sitting on your heels. Reach forward with both your arms as far as you can as long as it’s not painful (it may be uncomfortable, but as long as it’s not causing you any grief!).
Classic strengthening – the old principle of ‘Use it or Lose it’ is more than applicable here. Our core, our stabilizing muscles, need to be intact for us to function in a… well, functional manner.
You don’t need to be a gymnast or Olympic athlete to avoid back pain, actually many athletes despite their intense training still experience it. However having the strength definitely plays a huge factor in diminishing the amount!
Glute bridges are an awesome all-encompassing exercise – they work your core, your glutes, the erector spinae group (remember that? I told you’d knowing about it would come in handy!). Whether your goal is to increase the three-dimensional space that your glutes can occupy or strengthen the muscles that directly affect your lower back pain experience – this is a MUST-DO exercise!
The cues here are to squeeze your buttocks like you’re holding in going to the washroom, squeezing your abs together and to make sure you KEEP BREATHING.
You can choose to go up and down while doing your glute bridges without delay, or stopping and holding it at the top for several seconds. Isotonic or isometric – your choice!
Resisted glute bridges can, in addition to normal glute bridges, can help target the sides of your glutes – the glute medius and minimus! They’re important muscles for stabilizing your body while walking (especially in that moment in time when you’re standing on one leg while walking!).
If your pain only occurs in the low back when you’re going about your day walking, then this is definitely a muscle you need to keep in touch with; not through letters or phone calls though, I mean that wouldn’t make any sense…right? Right.
The Bird Dog is traditionally an exercise that works on core stability, as well as helping your subconscious mind keep track of where your limbs are in without you having to look at them – a body sense that we have called proprioception. (in addition to the traditional 5 senses we have, like touch, taste, smell, etc.)
Of course, we’re told that a weak core can be a contributor to low back pain – and yes it can, so try out this exercise!
Massage Techniques & Myofascial Release
Next up we have Massage! Classic Massage – something that we can all turn towards whether we’re in severe pain or just need to mellow out.
Massage is highly effective at decreasing pain and promoting relaxation!
If mobility & strengthening haven’t helped you quite yet, or if you’d like to add massage techniques to the end of your pain rehab – then here are some things you can do for yourself!
Here you’ll just need a foam roller and a recovery ball. If you don’t have one of those, hopefully you have a tennis or lacrosse ball at home that can be a perfectly fine substitute.
Our goal here it to promote local blood flow to our entire back – including the entire erector spinae group, as well as indirectly to the Quadratus Lumborum muscles.
We’re also looking to rid ourselves of any muscle knots or trigger points here, which can be anywhere in our upper back all the way down to our glutes!
Releasing knots can sometimes be rather uncomfortable – you’ll know you’re on one when it’s suddenly irregularly painful (to a tolerant amount), and you feel a little soft bump as well.
Let’s say that doing it yourself doesn’t really work – that’s fine! Sometimes a little help will come along the way. You can always see a health care professional, wherever you are, and whether or not that’s a Registered Massage Therapist is up to you!
However, if you’re looking to have treatment with a health care professional about a pain problem or functional issue you have, and happen to live in the Greater Toronto Area, specifically Mississauga. You’re always welcome to come see me in person! You can book online with a click of a button!
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