Back pain can be one of the most annoying things on the planet.
A lot of the time there is no specific cause to it, but it hurts like hell.
The back is also a weird area because you cannot work directly on the joint to improve symptoms.
Usually, back pain is mediated by activating the glutes and core and mobilizing the hip and thoracic spine.
This is different than what most people want to do: stretch it out.
Stretching the back is a bad idea. The lower back is supposed to be a stable joint. Stretching is an attempt to increase flexibility. This will decrease stability and add to the problem.
Also, stretching is going to feed into the exact dysfunction we are trying to avoid. The spinal erectors usually exist in two forms, long and weak or short and tight.
People who sit at a desk for a long time are in a constant state of lengthening for the erector spinae. Stretching these muscles out is only going to make the issue worse.
Solving the problem involves less sitting and getting out of the poor posture.
People with extension based pain from standing or playing sports all of the time face the opposite problem. When the curve in the low back becomes more of a C shape, the spinal erectors are tight because they are constantly under tension.
This tension must be removed before we try to make things better. This can be done by postural change and soft tissue work. Shutting off the spinal erectors is magical for those that have overused them.
Try these tips to help deal with back pain.
- Change your posture as much as possible
The best posture is one that is always changing. Staying in one for too long starts cause pain. Vary it up to relieve symptoms.
- Utilize the peanut
The peanut is two tennis/lacrosse balls taped together and it is a great tool for the muscles of the back.
For those that have the tense muscles, the pressure of the ball will release tension in the back.
On the other hand, those with long muscles and slumped posture can also benefit. Putting the ball in the upper middle of the back and laying down will create extension through the thoracic spine.
- Activate the glutes
Most people have no clue how to use their glutes. This is devastating for back pain.
Activating the glutes is as simple as squeezing your butt as hard as you can, as though you were trying to crack a walnut.
- Activate the core
Front planks and side planks can be insanely helpful in activating the core muscles. These two movements hit the majority of the muscles used to support the spine.
A strong core is one of the best defenses to low back pain. Holding these lifts for short periods of time (about 7s) and repeating reps will help to build the endurance needed.
Bed rest is one of the worst things for bad backs. It reinforces poor posture and does not create activation of any musculature.
Sitting at work, in the car, and at home is borderline bed rest. The solution is to get moving as much as possible.
Movement will relieve back pain and make you feel better in the long run.
Back pain does not have to be debilitating. Good management of the body will help reduce the effect of low back pain.
Stick to these 5 strategies and you will start to feel better without pain.