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Back pain

Back pain, Core strengthening, Spine

QL Muscle Strengthening: Beat Low Back Pain

February 16, 2016 • By

Your Quadratus Lumborum muscle (better knows as your QL muscle) can cause you all sorts of back pain and refer pain into your hip and glutes. Having weakness in your QL muscle can mean recurring and frustrating back pain that can cause way too much trouble

So following on from our previous article on how to treat the QL yourself through an easy muscle release, here is how to strengthen it up and beat low back pain.

Strengthen QLSo, what does your QL muscle do?

Easy, it comes from the top of your pelvis (the iliac crest) and attaches on to the bottom rib and the side of your spine. From there, it acts to help you extend backwards, bend to the side, bend forwards and can help in breathing.

So the QL does rather a lot. Not only that but because it attaches to all your lumbar vertebrae and your pelvis, when it goes into spasm, it can really pull on your spine and can also lift one side of the pelvis – Making it seem like your “back is out”

 

Strengthen Quadratus lumborumAnd you know what? The QL can be a real pain in the butt.

Literally. As with a lot of muscles in the body which cause you to feel pain elsewhere and not where the real issue is. The QL refers pain into the buttock and side of the hip, making it quite deceiving as to where the pain is actually coming from.

 

Symptoms of QL muscle dysfunction:

  • Deep, aching in the low back, often worse in sitting or standing
  • Pain with coughing and sneezing
  • Pain rolling to either side when lying on your back
  • Pain can refer to the groin and mimic sciatica symptoms
  • You may have one side of your pelvis lifted higher than the other

 

Strengthening exercises for the QL:

  1. Side plank

Level 1: Hold

Side plank QL strengthening

Build up your QL endurance by holding a side plank.

Aim for a one minute hold (this is the goal, you may not be able to do it straight away!)

Tip: don’t stick your bum out, tuck it in

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Level 2: Leg lifts

Side plank leg raises

When you can hold a straight side plank comfortably for a minute, step it up.

Lift your hips up into a side plank but now lift your top leg up and down while holding the side plank.

Aim for 3 sets of 10 reps, but you may need to start with less reps!

Tip: don’t let your top leg come forward or toes point up.

 

 

2. One sided carry

Ql strengthening exercise

Here, the QL muscle on the opposite side to the weight you are carrying is working hard to keep you upright.

Hold onto a dumbbell or kettlebell in one hand and do some laps (e.g. 10 x 10m laps on each side)

Tip: try to stay upright!

 

 

And that’s it. Easy. Combine those few exercises into your workout at least 3 x weekly to improve the strength of your QL muscle and help beat back pain.

Tip: This is a great stretch to help unload the low back!

 


Back pain, Health, Hip pain

The Best Glute Stretch

August 25, 2015 • By

This is the stretch my patients rave about the most and about the only stretch they keep doing once injury free – because it makes you feel so much better – and gets results! So give this glute stretch a shot, it can really work wonders.

The great thing is that the title is not an exaggeration.

First of all I will show you the glute stretch and a video to make sure you are doing it right and then I’ll fill you in on why it is so good for your hips, knees shoulders and especially your low back.

 

The Best Glute Stretch:

What you’re stretching:

  • the best glute stretchYour glutes, hamstrings and other hip rotators. All of these muscles at the back of your hips get stretched out here to unload the pull on your low back and hips. This also increases the mobility of your hip joint by increasing the rotation – which is essential for something as simple as walking, but also for sports such as golf where hip rotation is crucial.

 

  • Lat stretchYour latissimus dorsi is stretched out when you bring your arm across your body as shown in the video. When tight the lats can pull your shoulder down and forward, so great to stretch out!

 

Try and do this stretch daily and make it part of your routine as it can work wonders, but as with other exercises, it isn’t a quick fix!


Back pain, Health, Mobility, Spine

Treat your stiff back and neck with a peanut…

March 3, 2015 • By

The peanut - for neck and back stiffnessThe self-treatment tool I use the most, especially while on tour with teams, has got to be the Peanut. This is a handy little tool that you can use to loosen up your stiff back very effectively, and it’s not bad for doing a bit of muscle work too! The great thing it, you can make one at home and I’m going to show you how.

It is perfectly suited to giving you’re spine a good loosen up as it has a nice groove down the middle for your vertebrae to rest in while bulging out to give the muscle down either side of your spine a nice firm massage. You can move it up and down your spine slowly, meaning at each level it;

1. Loosens up the muscles and other soft tissues and

2. Mobilizes your spine at the same time.

Your thoracic spine is very key for pain-free and strong neck and shoulders and is far too often overlooked and missed. So if you have any neck, shoulder or upper back pain or a stiff back – This will be a great exercise for you to try and even better to combine with this myofascial release for tight shoulders.

So, here is how to make your own peanut to mobilize your spine at home:

What you need:

1. Two balls (Mind out of the gutter!) – I prefer to use lacrosse balls but it is up to your preference, tennis balls can do a really good job too.

lacrosse balls

 

2. Tape: A good, strong and durable tape it best. I use strapping tape but that’s just because I have a lot of it! – Use what you have available.

Strapping tape - rigid

 

Put it all together:

Now all you need to do is strap the two balls together – the best way to do it is lengthwise around both balls at once and then around the middle before going around and around where-ever needed to hold them together. In other words, just give it a go, there is no exact way to do it!

How to use it?

It is best used in your upper back, otherwise known as your thoracic spine. Lie on your back and use you knees bent up and feet on the ground to roll it up and down. Stretching your arms over your head or across your chest can help also – experiment and give it a go, you will feel much better for it!

I will be making a video in the coming weeks to show you exactly how to give your upper back a good loosen up so stay tuned or make sure to follow us on Facebook or Twitter.

Good luck and let me know how you go!

 


Back pain, Chronic Pain, Health

Low Back Pain – Why it sticks around

February 11, 2014 • By

Lower Back Pain can be very limiting, annoying and really hang around. Her is how you can help that with some great info and lower back exercises!

In my previous posts on low back pain I have shown you how to get up and moving when in acute low back pain, what sciatica is and how to treat it and finally I made you a maintenance regime to keep your back strong and mobile.

Today I want to run through one of the reasons back pain can really hang around and affect our lives so much AND run through some effective lower back exercises to address these reasons.

 

As with a lot of other injuries such as ankle sprains, simple injuries can linger around and even turn chronic because proprioception is lost in that area. This means that you lose kinetic awareness, the ability to know where your body is in space. Our bodies are amazing in the fact that normally you can know where your body parts are with your eyes closed – like holding your arm up in a certain position, closing your eyes and copying it with the other arm – you will be very similar if not spot on. You can do this because you have proprioception.

A recent study compared chronic low back pain patients to pain free patients and looked at the ability to reposition into a good sitting position from being slumped down. they found that the patients with low back pain were undershooting and not getting into good positions – this increases the risk of further back injury and aggravation and you wouldn’t even know it. Also when a sample of the fascia surrounding the back and connecting the legs and arms together (thoraco-lumbar fascia) is taken and analysed – patients with back pain have lost the innervation to that area. This all adds up to you not knowing when your back is in a bad position when you have back pain and this can lead to ongoing problems.

So to re-train your back and get the feeling back there is a couple of things you can do:

  1. bird-dog exercise for glute and spinal strength, stability and balance. physiotherapy exerciseBird-Dog: This lower back exercise is great for retraining the thoraco-lumbar fascia – this connects two of the largest muscles in your body – Latissimus dorsi (Lats) and gluteus maximus. It helps to promote coordinated movement between upper and low limbs while having a stable low back. Action: start on your hands and then extend opposite arm and leg. Do this slowly and KEEP YOUR BACK STRONG (imagine there is your dinner or a fish bowl on your low back!). Do 2 sets of 20, alternating each side (you may need to start off doing less or just using the leg).
  2. Body checks: when at work, at the gym and especially when sitting – stop and check where you are in space , make sure your low back isn’t rounded out and your shoulders aren’t rounded forward. every 20 minutes check your self and right it.
  3. Keep you back strong and mobile with these great lower back exercises

 

Please comment, share and follow me for more!

 


Back pain

Slipped Disc: What is it and how to fix it

September 16, 2013 • By

Slipped disc, Herniated disc, disc bulge and sciatica are all interchangeable and often used to explain the same thing. So here I will out-line what a slipped disc is and how YOU can sort it out yourself. and just remember, a disc herniation IS NOT THE END OF THE WORLD!

Now I need to say first of all that vertebral discs cannot actually “slip” as they are firmly attached between vertebrae – so from now on I will be referring to them as a Herniated Discs.

The two common sites for herniated discs are the lumbar spine (low back) and the Cervical spine (neck). Today we are going to cover the low back as this is the most common, but stay tuned for self-treatment of herniated discs in the neck!

Basic anatomy:

lumbar anatomy - slipped discs and herniation

 

The spine is made up of vertebrae stacked on top of each other, held together by ligament and muscle. in between each vertebrae is a intervertebral disc. Now in the lumbar spine there are 5 vertebrae and the most common level for disc herniations are L5/S1 – this is the Disc between your lowest lumbar vertebrae and your Sacrum. roughly 80% occur here with the second most at L4/5 above it.

The Lumbar discs are made up by a harder outer layer, holding in a gooey middle.

 

How does a Disc herniation occur?

When too much force is repeatedly put though the front of the disc (such as bending forward, slouching and lifting heavy objects) the gooey centre of the disc is forced forward and eventually (after thousands of bends)it forces through the outer layer.

A lot of Discs are injured doing very simple things light, changing a light bulb or picking up a baby but it is not that action that does it, it is a build up over time and it can take any little thing to tip it over the edge!

Now there is different levels of disc damage as you can see in the picture below:

disc bulge levels herniation - how to fix slipped disc

 

Now Sequestrations are serious and often need surgery but the remaining levels can be and should be treated conservatively (non-surgically) first.

 

 

 

 

 

 

disc bulge, slipped disc, herniation - self treatment physiotherapy

Depending on the level of disc herniation, they can cause symptoms in different places down the leg due to the nerve roots that get annoyed. Keep in mind though that Disc herniations often do not have pain or change on sensation into the legs – there is a very wide range of presentations.

 

Herniated disc symptoms: You can have some or all of these.

– Pain worse in the morning and cold/bad weather

– Sciatica – Common back and leg pain caused by irritation to on of the 5 Lumbar spinal nerves. The nerves are irritated by the disc compressing on it or inflammation from the disc herniation. This usually only occurs down one leg.

– Back spasm – often people are given this as a diagnosis but muscle spasm DOES NOT HAPPEN FOR NO REASON – there is always something behind it. Muscles around your back tighten up and go into spasm to protect your back and try to stabilise it so that no more damage is done.This is called muscle guarding and is a natural mechanism initially but in the following days it can lead to a lot of discomfort, pain and limitation.

– Aggravated by sitting, prolonged standing, bending and twisting.

Recovery and healing time

Recovery: Up to 80 percent recover within 6 weeks

Healing time: 12-18 months due to poor blood flow into the discs.

 

When to see a health professional: It is best to get your back checked out if:

– Pain refers down your leg

– tingling or numbness down the leg

When to go to the hospital:

– worsening weakness in your legs

– Change in bladder or bowel (toileting) function.

 

Self treatment: Now here is what you can do to hugely improve you back!

1. keep active: back in the day bed rest was the first port of call, now it is the opposite. keeping relatively active is the best thing for your back and you need to remember that the chances are your back will get better and that over 80% of the population get back pain just like yours!

2. Exercises: to get the right muscles firing again to stabilize your spine and to loosen off the tight muscles (so that you dont feel hunched over and shuffling!) follow this link: Must know exercises for acute low back pain

3. Stiffness in your upper spine puts a huge amount more stress though your low spine and gets worse when in back pain! Here is a great way to mobilise your own spine

4. The greatest exercise for Disc Herniations: this exercise was developed by a top Physiotherapist Robin McKenzie. Repeated Extensions IN Lying (REIL) act to centralise the disc and gradually reduce the disc Herniation.

Prone extensions in lying McKenzie exercise for disc low back pain

 

Position: Lying on your Front with your hands in front of you like you are going to do a push up.

Action: Keeping your hips and back relaxed, push your shoulders up. Do not push into pain, so stop when and if you feel pain and hold it for 10 seconds then relax down and repeat 10 times.

 

Initially start on you elbows as shown, then progress to straight arms.

Prone extensions in lying McKenzie exercise for disc low back pain physiotherapy

Reps and sets: 10 x 10 second holds 3 x daily


Remember: if pain worsens with this exercise do not push as far or as hard. If pain continues to worsen then consult a health professional.

 

These easy steps will help you so much, just remember that you WILL have good days and bad days but if you stick to the above 4 things, your Disc pain will get a lot better. Try and persevere with these exercises for 6 weeks at least!

Let me know how you get on and don’t forget to like, share and follow!

Also see: progressed exercises for keeping back pain away