Has being stuck at home flared up your back pain? Or maybe you’re experiencing back pain for the first time? Or maybe you’ve suffered from back pain before?
On any given day 1 in 7 Australian’s will suffer from back pain. It is the most common presentation to a GP and it affects up to 90% of the population at one point or another.
If you are suffering from back pain it is worth noting that only a small percentage is indicative of serious pathology. Most of the time (90-95%) it is pain related to the muscles or joints in the lower back and is of a musculoskeletal origin (something you can work on from home).
If you’re in the 90-95% that have pain related to biomechanical factors, it’s important to consider any muscle weaknesses or imbalances that are causing an excessive load (putting increased pressure) through the back, resulting in pain.
The key chain of muscles that you can assess from your own home or with a professional is the erector spinae (a group of muscles and tendons which run more or less the length of the spine), the glute complex, the hamstrings, and the calves. Functionally these muscles all contribute to hip extension. If there is a weakness through any of these muscles the load will be taken up elsewhere (usually by the back).
In addition, the glutes play a very important role in stabilizing the pelvis. In a single leg stance, the glutes prevent the pelvis from dropping excessively. If there is a weakness in the glutes and the pelvis does drop, the lower back must work hard to compensate for the strength that the glutes lack.
Again, over time pain can develop as a result of this weakness.
So…. my top 3 exercises to do to strengthen this muscle chain that can be done anytime, anywhere (including from home):
Don’t have weights?
Just use something heavy of your desired weight from around the house.
E.g. a large water-filled drink bottle or a grocery bag filled up.
- Weighed or unweighted hip thrusts or bridges: We suggest 3 sets of 6-12 reps
2. Unweighted or weighted Goblet squats: We suggest 3 sets of 6-12 reps
3. Romanian deadlifts: We suggest 3 sets of 6-12 reps
All 3 of the exercises above have been proven to get great activation of the glutes which will help to develop better strength in the pelvis and offload the back. In addition, the hip thrusts and deadlifts are great for the hamstrings and the whole chain as a unit.
These exercises are great but they’re not for everyone.
If you try them and you feel your back is becoming loaded further (putting more pressure or causing pain) try some other exercises that target the same areas.
If you need a professional opinion on your lower back or require some help with the exercises listed above, come into the clinic and we can give you a plan to get you to your goals as quickly as possible! Book an appointment HERE or call 9481 7794 today.
Written by Dr. Nick Giovas ( Fitzroy North osteopath)