An article by exercise physiologist, Jennifer Smallridge.
The lower back consists of five large, strong vertebrae which sit on top of one another in a curved formation. The very bottom of the lower back leads to the sacrum (a flat bone between the two sides of the pelvis) and continues further down to become the tailbone.
These fives bones are surrounded by muscles to form what we know as the trunk. Because of the way the bones are stacked, we are able to bend, extend, twist and tilt with ease.Chances are, if you’re reading this, you’ve experienced lower back pain at one point in your life. The good news is, from all of the available research, the overwhelming agreement is that people should keep moving when they are in pain. When we start to avoid particular movements or activities, muscles get weaker, the brain becomes fearful, and pain tends to get worse.
How movement can help:
• Preventing back pain in the first place - exercise combined with education (just like in this book!) has the highest level of evidence for preventing lower back pain. Being active is a surefire way to reduce your risk of getting back pain.
• Managing back pain when it occurs - gone are the days of bed rest and keeping still! It is now commonly accepted that keeping involved in normal activities is essential to overcome an episode of back pain.
• The better you move, the better you are – think of your spine like bamboo, which can bend with ease but also stand strong. Experiencing back pain can also be linked to other areas of life, such as stress levels, not being hydrated enough, and not sleeping enough. It really does take a whole-body approach!
Did you know:
Standing or sitting with good posture has been shown to instantly increase mood. You are a tiny bit taller first thing in the morning than last thing at night – while we sleep, our discs can decompress slightly from the force of gravity.
Before you start:
For each of the following exercises, ensure that your back is nice and warm (for example, after a hot shower or brisk walk), or after placing heat packs on your back for at least 10 minutes. It is important when exercising the back to only go as far as comfortable, and not to push through strong pain. Make sure that you aren’t holding your breath!
- Walking: Most days of the week, building up to 30 minutes
- Seated twists: 1 x 10, breathing out as you twist and in as you return to centre
- Seated side bends: 1 x 10, 3 second hold each time
- Cat/cow stretch: 1 x 10, 5 second hold each time
- Hips to heals stretch: 1 x 10, 5 second hold each time
- Widescreen wipers: 1 x 10, 5 second hold each time
- Opposite arm/leg extensions: 2 x 10
- Bridges: 2 x 10
- Tabletop and leg lowers: 2 x 10