In early January 2012, I hurt my back at the gym. I was doing a workout I had done many times before. I wasn't even performing an exercise when I got hurt - I was moving a weight plate out of my way and I happened to turn just the "right" way. I didn't know it at the time, but I injured my sacroiliac joint (SI Joint). I had never really experienced back pain like that before. It hurt to do just about everything, including sitting still. Obviously I had never truly grasped the debilitating nature of a back injury before and had been very lucky up until that point.
After a few weeks of pain and not much improvement, I went to see my primary care doctor who also specializes in sports medicine. I was prescribed anti-inflammatories and sent to physical therapy. While I did see improvement, it took close to 6 months for the pain to diminish. Not fun.
Since that injury, I have had flare-ups on occasion. I manage these by seeing my chiropractor regularly, staying consistent with my physical therapy stretches, strength training, and knowing my personal limitations when it comes to exercise.
Fortunately, low back pain isn't always as severe as what I experienced and there are stretches and strengthening exercises you can do right in your own home to help alleviate low back pain.
While on your back and keeping your right leg out straight, pull your left leg into your body as close as you can (keep it bent) by reaching behind your thigh. While holding there begin to straighten your left leg until you feel a gentle stretch on the back side of your thigh (hamstring). Hold for 30 seconds. Repeat on opposite side.
Low Back Reach
While sitting with legs bent in front of you begin to reach forward slowly. Stop when you feel a gentle stretch. Hold for 30 seconds.
While on knees reach forward. You can move the knees further apart for a deeper stretch. Hold for 30 seconds.
While on all fours in "table top" pose, round back as shown. Hold for 30 seconds. Slowly move into the opposite position where there is an arch in your back. Repeat.
While on your back bend your legs with your feet on the floor. Push through the heels and use your glutes to lift your hips. Hold at the top, squeezing the glutes for 30 seconds.
Plank can be done on hands & toes (high plank) or on elbows & toes. If you are new to plank begin by holding for 5-10 seconds at a time working up to longer periods of time. Shoulders should be over hands or elbows. Engage the core by pulling the belly button to the spine. Squeeze your glutes, hamstrings, quads, and calves. Relax your shoulders. Breathe.
Begin on all fours (table top pose). Extend your right hand and left foot at the same time using caution to engage the core first by pulling the belly button towards your spine. Hold. Start by holding 5-10 seconds working your way up to 30 seconds. Repeat on the opposite side.
We work on many of the above stretches and strengthening exercises in our shared and private personal training classes at the studio. Consistent stretching and strength training can help keep you feeling your best, help you live your life on your terms, and help keep you injury free.
Contact me to schedule a quick tour and discuss how we can help!