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5 exercises to kill back pain

Imagine you’re sitting in a TED conference, I walked onto the stage and opened with this question – Who in the room, has experienced low back pain? I would guess that around 3 out of 5 people would put up their hand.

I confess, I may be relying on studies that have shown that up to 60-70% of us will experience this pain at some point. What’s more concerning is that around 15% of us will experience ongoing symptoms that don’t seem to settle!

For this reason, it’s important that we think about how back pain is managed. I will stress, that initially the best thing you can do for an acute back injury is take some pain medication!

Research would show that Panadol and ibuprofen taken as recommended and under the advice of a GP should help with the back pain.

My goal in this blog is to give you some “killer” exercises, targeted specifically for your lower back. These exercises can help you through that painful process of acute back pain and are all safe to do as soon as you’re able.

#1. Bridge

The bridge will help to activate your gluteal muscles (bottom muscles) which are the biggest muscles in your body.

These help to take the pressure of the small muscles which run parallel to your back, as they perform a similar function. The key to this exercise is that it doesn’t matter how high you go, in fact initially it’s better to not go high into the air as this will arch your low back and possibly cause pain.

I would recommend around 10 repetitions every couple of hours.

#2. Knee to chest

Most back injuries are followed by acute inflammation, which causes the pain. The knee to chest exercise can help to flush some of this inflammation out of the system.

Gently rocking the knees forward and back, will flex and extend the spine, which pushes some of that fluid out of the system.

A recommended amount of this exercise would be 30 seconds of every hour and keep it pain-free.

#3. Knee rocks

Following the same principle as the knee to chest, knee rocks encourage subtle movement of the back and help to reduce inflammation.

The key with this exercise is not to push the knees too far side to side, but just slowly go into a pain-free range. Again 30 seconds every hour will help initially.

#4. Seated low back bends

It’s often very hard to isolate movement to your lower back. With this exercise, you want to sit tall and only move your pelvis forward and backward.

This encourages bending and extending of the low back.

I often use the example of imagining that your pelvis is a bowl filled with water, you can empty the water forward by tipping your pelvis forward, or you can empty water backward by curling your low back.

It can be hard to perform this well, but any isolated movement of the low back will help to recruit your deep supporting muscle, called your multifidus.

You can do 10 repetitions of this every couple of hours, and again keep the movement pain-free.

#5. Lying heel slides

This is a great exercise once your pain has settled a little.

You want to gently pull your low back into the bed by tightening your stomach muscles, then slide your heel down the bed so your knee straightens. As the heel goes further away from your body, your back will want to lift, but if you keep your stomach muscles gently recruited you will hold your back against the bed.

This exercise targets your lower stomach muscles called transverse abdominals.

Repeat for 10 repetitions and every couple of hours if possible.

There are many different means offered to treat low back pain. Most research will say that things such as massage and acupuncture can be beneficial, but only for a short duration. The best thing you can do in the long term is stay fit and exercise regularly.

What’s the take-home?

If you have had back pain before, you may want to consider seeing someone who can recommend an exercise program to keep you going.

If you need any further advice with your rehabilitation, don’t hesitate to book an online appointment at Click Physiotherapy, one of the first online clinics, offering help to people all over the world! We wish you all the best with your recovery!