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January 28, 2021

How To Improve Low-Back Pain

Let’s be honest, if you’ve got lower back pain, you’re probably missing out on a lot of fun in life. Fortunately, here are a few simple tricks you can do at home, without any equipment, to improve, and hopefully, eliminate your low-back pain.

DISCLAIMER: Before following any advice given here, please refer out to a doctor or other medical professional.

What Causes Low-Back Pain?

 

Aggravation of the low-back usually occurs due to improper alignment, or if our mobility has been disrupted. Usually misalignment is caused by a previous injury, or by improper repetitive movement over time. As many of you know, it takes only one vertebra to be out of alignment to experience pain. 

Discomfort also occurs if two or more vertebrae are stuck together. Consider that each vertebra has 4 joints/facets that are held together with tiny ligaments. That’s 20 joints that can be sprained or fixated potentially leading to aches and pains!

 

3 Tips to Reduce or Eliminate Low-Back Pain

 

You can resolve low-back pain at home by taking the proper steps. First, you’ll want to reduce any inflammation, if possible. This is beneficial to remedy joints, nerves, and soft tissue that are irritated, raw, and swollen, causing discomfort and/or aggravation. In particular, your doctor or chiropractor may recommend oral anti-inflammatory medication, applying ice and/or stretching.

Here are 3 tips that you can do in the comfort of your own home to try and remedy that pesky low-back pain!

 

Tip #1 – Your Low-back Wake-up Call

How To Improve Low-Back Pain

How you start your morning contributes to the flow of the rest of your day. Your initial actions when you wake up prepare your body for sitting, standing and moving about your day.

Here’s an example of how to stretch your low-back before you even get out of bed each morning:

  • Lying on your back with legs bent, gently pull one knee toward your chest
  • Relax your low-back muscles while holding this position for 3-5 seconds, or longer if desired. 
  • Slowly switch legs.
  • Now, do the same thing, but bring both knees toward your chest.
  • Repeat 5-10 times to wiggle free from stiffness 

 

Tip #2 – Your Core is Key to Resolve Low-back Pain

How To Improve Low-Back Pain

Strengthening your back is obviously important, but it’s just as important to strengthen your entire core. All the muscles extending from your head to your pelvis deep within your trunk provide support for your spine.

Exercises to aid with low-back pain are those that provide simple, low-impact movement of the whole body. The more you move, the more your lymph and circulatory systems flow. This increases the delivery of oxygen and nutrients to the joints keeping them healthy and removes waste products from your body.

Examples of Exercises for Mobility:

  • Walking
  • Swimming
  • Biking

 

Specific Exercises for Building Core Strength:

  • Pelvic tilts to create movement in the pelvis.
  • Partial abdominal crunches lifting the head and shoulder blades off the mat.
  • Crisscross, also referred to as Bicycles to strengthen the obliques

 

Give the core a hand by strengthening the glutes, quads and hamstrings with these exercises: 

  • Glute bridges to activate the glutes & hamstrings.
  • Step-ups
  • Walking lunges
  • Single leg deadlift 
  • Elevated split squat

 

On the other hand, if lying on your back to exercise is not comfortable, then perhaps getting down on all fours for:

  • Cat-cows
  • Bird-dogs
  • Planks, either low planks on your forearms or high planks with arms extended 

Many exercises are beneficial and improve low-back pain but only if they are performed properly. Please be mindful when involved in the following to make sure your form is correct. If an exercise is too difficult to hold proper form, then modify the exercise appropriately.

Here are some exercises & behaviors you may want to be cautious of when dealing with low-back pain:

Planks

I know this may sound contradictory since I mentioned planks as a beneficial strengthening exercise above, however, ensure that you have proper plank form. To do this, align your body in a straight line from your head to your toes. If your low back sags or if you experience pain, try planks on your knees, elevated on a bench/chair or against a wall. 

Prone positions

Although prone positions are beneficial for building core muscles, please use caution. Prone positions, such as Superman, can compress the spine by lifting your upper body and lower body too high off the floor. Instead, focus on making your body as long as possible by reaching with your fingertips and toes or lift only the upper body or lower body independently. 

Excessive bending

Exercises that pull on the low-back such as, trying to pick something up off the floor without bending your knees. This movement can strain your low-back, especially if you cannot comfortably touch your toes with straight legs and/or if your hamstrings are tight. In other words, the low-back tries to provide the slack necessary to bend farther and could increase the chance of injury. 

Quick twisting movements

Remind yourself to engage your core to support the low-back before slowly rotating the torso. 

Contact or high-impact sports

Even though these sports may be fun, there is a risk of injury to your low-back if your core is weak. Low-impact exercises where there is always a grounded body part (whether it be a hand, foot or even a behind) can build muscle for more strenuous activities.

Heavy lifting that compresses the spine

Lifting heavy weight can increase the chance of low-back injury, even with proper precautions. In fact, it is possible to build muscle using body weight or light weight exercises. 

 

Tip #3 – Strike a Pose to Relieve low-back pain

How To Improve Low-Back Pain

Posture! Posture! Posture! 

Be mindful of your posture whether sitting, standing or lying down by:

  • Engaging the core to support the low-back
  • Aligning your head with your spine by lengthening through the back of the neck and pulling your chin back so your ears are over your shoulders
  • Slightly pulling your shoulders back and shoulder blades together
  • Using lumbar support when needed

Granted, nobody enjoys a moment of “Ouch! My back!”, as it impacts our enjoyment of life. Starting with the wake-up call exercise above and following through with these simple tips will help improve your low-back pain by keeping your joints mobile and your core strong.

For more on posture, check out this article!

If you found this article helpful, please consider sharing it with someone suffering from low-back pain.

 

Swing over to our YouTube channel to check out our latest videos here:

Hybrid Fitness YouTube Channel

And remember…small steps, big results.
January 6, 2021

Good Posture is Your Partner for Mobility

Why is Good Posture Your Friend For Mobility?

 

 

If you’re a busy adult who’s committed to staying active (maybe you hike or kayak on the weekends) and you want to be healthy to keep doing those activities…you must have good posture. Good posture is your ally for mobility by helping your skeletal system stay aligned and your muscles and joints limber. Here’s how to do that with just four simple “posture” tips.

 
Tip #1 “Who is that sitting over there?”

 

We’ve all glanced across a crowded room and spied a divine human emanating confidence and grace just by the way they are seated. Keep reading to see how that could be you! 

Why seated posture is a big deal

 

We live in a society where many of us sit while commuting to work, sit at work, and sit again on the way home. Then, we sit to eat dinner and wonder why our backs are sore and stiff. At that point, all we want to do is sit on the couch and watch tv or read.

The truth is, sitting is one of the worst positions for our bodies because it increases the pressure on our backs exponentially and shortens our hip flexors.

You can prevent spine discomfort, avoid poor postural habits and increase your confidence when sitting by:

 

  • Supporting your lumbar spine with a small pillow or a rolled towel.
  • Placing your feet flat on the floor with legs at 90 degrees. 
  • Aligning your head with your spine
  • Keeping your chin parallel to the floor
  • Pulling your shoulders back by slightly squeezing your shoulder blades together
 
Commuting in your car

 

Using the tips above in referring to your daily commute to or from work, place your hands at 4:00 and 8:00 on the steering wheel instead of 10:00 and 2:00. This position is more ergonomically correct because your arms are bent at 90 degrees and your elbows are right by your sides.

good posture is your friend for mobility

 

Sitting at your desk

 

The same tips apply if you are sitting at your desk in front of your computer. Keep your arms bent at 90 degrees with fingers on the keyboard and make sure your monitor is at eye level. 

Taking a load off

 

Another option to combat sitting throughout the day is to decompress from gravity. Simply lie down. Why not watch tv while lying on the floor or the couch?

 
Tip #2 Standing posture for your best first impression

 

Nothing says confidence like a person standing tall with a smile on their face. Chances are that person is smiling because their posture makes mobility their friend.

You can radiate your own confidence simply by following these standing tips:

 

  • Planting your feet hip width apart
  • Evenly distributing your weight in both legs with a natural arch in your back 
  • Slightly pulling your shoulder blades together and keeping your chin parallel to the floor
  • If you have to carry a bag try to choose something where the weight is evenly distributed across your torso and held close to your body, such as a backpack.
Tip #3 Lugging laundry, groceries and children?

 

Think of the many times during the day when our bodies act as transportation for something or someone.

We can continue to stay limber and safely mobile by following these lifting tips:

 

  • Bending with the legs to pick up the item
  • Holding the weight close to your body
  • Lifting with your legs without rotating or twisting your body

    *For a great core exercise that carries over to rotating your body, check out this video on how to do a Russian twist

It can be slightly tricky if you need to lift and hold weight on one side of your body, such as lugging a basket filled with laundry, a bag full or groceries or a child on your hip. This creates an uneven bend in the spine and loads the tiny joints of the spine with all the weight on one side.

You can safely carry weight on one side of your body by:

 

  • Shifting the weight from side to side often
  • Engaging the abdominal muscles to help support the back. 
 
Tip #4 Who doesn’t want rejuvenating beauty sleep simply by practicing good posture?

 

Sleeping sounds restful, but our sleeping posture can determine how our skeleton aligns and our muscles and joints stay limber. When you sleep on your stomach the joints in your lower back can jam together by hyperextending. It also doesn’t help the creases on your face caused by the pillow.

How to sleep well rested with crease-free skin

 

  • Sleeping on your back with knees bent slightly
  • Or sleeping supported on your side for a straight spine

We spend a third of our lives sleeping, so make sure to rotate that mattress and pretend you’re Goldilocks seeking a mattress that is not too firm nor too soft but just right. 

Bonus Tip

 

Add movement wherever you can, such as choosing the stairs at work and walking at lunch time. 

Good posture is your friend for mobility and by following these simple posture tips you’ll stay limber to enjoy your favorite fun activities. 

If you found this article helpful, please consider sharing it and check back for more tips from the coaches at Hybrid Fitness…and remember small steps, big results. 

To watch the video format of this article, click here: 
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ATWlf45NlnE

If you’re just getting started on your fitness journey, and not sure where to start, check out our newest article here:
Getting Started with your Health & Fitness Routine