If so there is a commonly used exercise you must avoid

If you’ve found this blog, no doubt you are proactive and I’m sure have spent time looking for stretches and exercises to help relieve your lower back pain. There are a wide range of exercises that are well known to help lower back pain, however some are better than others.

In the same way that doctors used to recommend bed rest for back pain, something that had since been found to be detrimental, there are equally some exercises we used to think helped relieve the pain but may actually be holding your progress back. At our clinic we often hear patients saying they do one exercise in particular because they read about it or were told about it, with the aim to help their lower back pain, however it’s doing just the opposite.

lower back pain an exercise to avoid this picture shows a lady on her back hugging her knees to her chestThe image on the left shows the exercise in question. The one where you lie on your back, bend your legs towards your chest and hug both knees in tightly. Whilst it may provide you with initial lower back relief, it may only be temporary.  Often after 10-15 minutes your lower back will start to tighten up again. If this is a pattern you recognise, this article is for you.

In this situation the hugging position has woken up the stretch receptors in your spine. Their reaction to a stretch is to lengthen the muscles, in turn giving you with the sensation of relief. However, if all is not well around the lower back, the body will quickly tighten it’s muscles up again to protect the area. It is this that then causes your lower back pain to begin to return. Due to the fragile state your brain sends a message to the local muscles to tighten up again. Your brain knows it needs to protect your lower back and stiffen the area to avoid the risk of further damage.

Have you ever experienced this pain cycle?

1. You have Back pain

2. you proactively stretch your back

3. back pain is relieved temporarily

4. After a short time the back pain builds, and builds to the point that you have to…

5. stretch your back again.. and so the cycle repeats again and again.

If this is happening to you, please STOP doing the stretch/exercise. By making a few changes and adjustments to your daily habits you can often stop this happening in the first place.

A common reason that this stretch/exercise may not be appropriate for your lower back pain is due to sitting posture. If you tend to sit with a rounded lower back/slumped posture during your daily life, you will be putting an extra strain on your spine, a subtle strain that builds up over time. By hugging your knees into your chest you re-create this same outwards curve to the lower back. The position puts extra pressure on the joints, discs and ligaments of your spine. The natural shape of your spine is an ‘S’ shape, with an inward curve at the lower back In this shape your vertebrae are aligned in the strongest way to avoid unnatural loading and the pain that can result.

There is an exercise that is be far more appropriate and just a easy to do. Watch the short video below to see what you need to be doing to help your lower back pain: