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Suffering from low back pain? You are not alone!

It is estimated that over 80% of people will suffer from low back pain at some point in their life! Low back pain can have many factors involved, some of which are quite complex. Regardless of the cause, the keys to finding some relief start with building strength and learning to move well.

Aside from my work as a personal trainer, I work as a Physical Therapist Assistant for a local company. A large part of my job is teaching patients and selecting the most beneficial exercises to help them recover safely. Daily, I need to find exercise solutions that allow patients to get stronger without further injury or harm.

With respect to each patient and client I see, I select exercises that support their home, work, and hobby interests to minimize pain with movement. While each person receives his/her own custom exercises, many common movements work well for a majority of people. I like to teach exercises that can be done at home with no special equipment. This helps empower everyone to be independent and active participants in their recovery.

Building The Foundation

I favor exercises that promote natural movement patterns like pushing, pulling, lifting, and carrying. Why? These movements look like everyday activities for most of us. These selected exercises help target muscles that need strengthening, iron out muscle imbalances, and build a solid foundation. If the exercise is performed without pain, I may add a number of variables to slowly increase the difficulty of the exercise.

This allows for a safe progression and builds confidence for my patient/client. Often, they are surprised at what they can do with little to no discomfort! Here are my favorite and most universal exercises for common low back pain.

These exercises are not intended to treat or diagnose any current problem you may be experiencing.

Farmer Carry

This exercise targets the deep core muscles as well as the hip muscles. The benefits there are huge in terms of creating stability for your deep spine muscles and creating more support for your low back.

The glutes help to keep the hips level and that directly affects the lumbar spine position. Side benefits include improved grip strength which some studies have shown is a favorable indicator of overall health.

To perform, grab a weight – this can be a bucket with gravel, a laundry soap jug, milk container, baby carrier, or any similar object.

While carrying the weight, don’t let yourself lean toward the hand with the weight. Keep your spine tall and core strong.

I like to start this with the weight in one hand walk 50 feet (less if needed), and return to the start position before switching hands. The progressions would include heavier weight, carrying weight in both hands, and adding distance.

Palloff Hold

This exercise is great for spinal stability by using a contraction hold to resist rotation. This has great benefits for the core muscles as well as the small muscles that stabilize the spine.

To perform this exercise I use a resistance band but you could use bungee cords. You could even gently press your hands into a door frame creating a similar isometric hold if bands are not available.

Keep your glutes tight and your abdominal muscles engaged throughout the exercise. I like to hold for 30 seconds, repeating 3-4 times per side.

Progressions include adding a pressing movement by bringing your hands to your chest and pressing back out, using more resistance, holding for longer than 30 seconds, or even marching while performing the exercise.

Hip Hinge

This exercise teaches you to use those big strong hip and leg muscles while keeping a stable back position during lifts.

One of the most common movements I coach is a hip hinge. This helps you feel your hips and legs engage properly before you squat or bend to pick up an object from the floor.  This simple drill is my starting point for teaching higher level hip movements while keeping a strong, stable back position.

To perform, stand 6-8 inches away from the wall. Keeping your shins fairly straight, reach back to touch the wall with your butt. Think about reaching for a toilet seat in the dark. We all know that feeling!

Squeeze the butt muscles to return to the standing position. Notice how my back is straight and my chest is upright, not facing the floor. You aren’t bending forward, you are reaching back with your hips.

If you have any questions or if you’d like to schedule a free consultation to learn more about how I can help you move pain-free, don’t hesitate to reach out!

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