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Health

3 Best Lower Back Stretches | Beat Persistent Back pain

• By

Lower back pain is very common and all too often becomes a frequent occurrence, leading to people suffering prolonged pain or repeated bouts of back pain. This doesn’t need to be the case. A huge proportion of back pain resolves within 6-12 weeks, you just need to give yourself the best conditions to recover and the best lower back stretches do just that!

Back Pain is Pretty Common

Nearly 80% of the population get back pain in their lifetimes with 30% of us getting lower back pain each year! That is a really high rate and indicates a high rate of re-injury (regular flare-ups).

The good news though, is that 60% of people recover from a bout of back pain within 6 weeks and 80-90% recover within 12 weeks(1). BUT, the issue is that if a lot back pain of recovers well within 6-12 weeks – why does it regularly come back?

Passive Approach – Not Helping You

There are a few reasons for recurring back pain but it is partly because people are often passive or fearful of back pain.

People tend to take a passive approach when they have a sore back. They take the passive approach by taking it easy until the pain has settled or even actively avoid things that they think may make it worse or “harm their back” such as lifting things.

The issue with the passive, “rest” approach?

While waiting for the back pain to ease, you get stiff, you get weaker and often you learn to avoid things that load your back. Not ideal and here is why:

As with a lot of injuries or pain, with rest and reducing load, pain can settle with time but by doing less, our body adapts to that – not ideal.

  1. Weaker Muscles: Your muscles get weaker due to pain inhibition and low use and if you don’t make this come back, it often won’t. It’s the “use it or lose it” saying, so not only should you really work to regain strength once the pain has settled, it is actually best to keep moving and active as able when sore, to limit loss.
  2. Tightening of Muscles: Your muscles get tighter, to protect you. Whenever you have pain, your tissue responds by muscle guarding around the area of pain in order to limit movement and brace the area. This can be useful for a short time as it allows you to keep moving but after a few days, we need to start reducing this spasm to avoid losing too much range

Lower Back Pain – Anatomy Lesson

With lower back pain, we often get spasm through 4 main areas:

  • The quadratus lumborum, which tends to brace down the side of your spine
  • The gluteals, which tighten and causes loss of hip flexion, inability to bend down well and sit comfortably
  • The Hip flexors. These are like guy ropes form your hip right to your spine and when they brace up, we lose extension and can’t always straighten up well, particularly after sitting.
  • Hamstrings, causing further loss of flexion and cramping in the legs

Lower Back Stretches to the Rescue

Lower back pain often feels far worse than it is because of this secondary spasm. Fortunately, our 3 best lower back stretches combine to address all four areas of concern mentioned above.

You can follow the best lower back stretches we show below to:

  • Help regain range of motion
  • Increase flexibility
  • De-load your lower back to allow it to get better, faster.
  • Help reduce asymmetry and mal-alignment remaining once you are better, meaning less risk of re-injury!

Through the best lower back stretches you can help reduce risk of re-injury. You can get rid of asymmetry and you can help your back pain get better, faster, ideally for good!

It’s up to you how you approach your back pain. You can:

  1. Rest it, avoid aggravating activities, and wait for it to settle.
  2. Keep moving and proactively stretch and strengthen for a faster, longer-lasting recovery

1. The absolute Best Glute stretch for lower back pain

We want you to be able to move and bend well still and we can do this through the hips, IF the glutes are guarding and limiting your movement.

Stretch your glutes to improve hip range and de-load your lower back.

YouTube player

We’ve written a previous post on this stretch HERE.

2. Hip Flexor stretch for lower back pain

Hip flexor stretch lower back pain

Your hip flexor muscles come from your hip and run up and attach onto the inside of your pelvis and along the sides of your lower spine. Their job is to not just flex the hip but also to tilt the pelvis forward and extend the low back.

When you get back pain the hip flexors can go into protective mode and brace up to act like guy ropes, increasing the tension on your lumbar spine and causing an achy lower back.

hip flexor stretch for lower back pain

Instructions:

  • Get set up as shown above and lunge forward slowly, keeping your back straight, thrusting forward from the pelvis.
  • If it helps, contract your glutes to help ensure you are extending at the hip to stretch the hip flexors rather than arching your back.
  • You should feel a good stretch in your hip and/or thigh and minimal or no lower back pain.
  • Hold for 30 seconds each side and if you have a sore knee, place a cushion or folded up towel under your knee for comfort.

3. The McKenzie extension stretch (Cobra)

This is a great stretch for regaining lumbar spine mobility and very commonly used by health professionals.

McKenzie extension stretch for lower back pain

Instructions:

  • Start lying on your stomach with your hands under your shoulders.
  • Breath in slowly and using your arms, push your upper body upwards.
  • If you cannot straighten your arms right out, that is OK, just push up to the point of discomfort.
  • Hold there and breath out slowly and then return back down.
  • Repeat this TEN times and if you cannot do this then start just lying propped up on your elbows for 1 minute.

In Conclusion

That is our 3 most effective, easy and best lower back stretches – give them a go, do them 1-2 times per day and notice the difference and as usual if unsure, no improvement or worsening pain, see a health professional.

Quadratus lumborum pain

Note: You may also benefit from a muscle release of your Quadratus Lumborum muscle which tends to go into spasm and is hard to effectively stretch. Check out our earlier post HERE that shows how to do that at home.


Back pain

Sciatica | Immediate Relief with Traction

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sciatica treatment with inversion tableSciatica is one of the most painful, common and debilitating nerve pains there is. Luckily, an effective treatment method is right at your fingertips.

Half the patients we see in our clinic our back pain patients and sciatica is a common issue, causing a lot of pain and limitation.

But there is something else that we have noticed as well, often, a patient with sciatica has come in for a follow up significantly better after using an Inversion Table of a friend or family member. The nerve pain has improved markedly afterward.

Due to this, we started looking into it further, and even though there isn’t any high-level solid research showing that it works every time, there is both theoretical and anecdotal evidence to say that it really does help relieve sciatica and low back pain.


Note: Various forms of lumbar traction has been used for the relief of pain since the time of Hippocrates. So this is in no way a new thing. It is now just far more accessible!


Sciatica is not a diagnosis

Sciatica is a symptom of an underlying back pathology. That helps a lot in understanding how traction and inversion tables help relieve back pain and sciatica.

The nerve pain that people with sciatica feel are pain referral due to nerve irritation or compression somewhere higher up in the low back by the real cause. This underlying cause is what needs to be treated.

Often sciatica and other forms of back-related pain are due to a number of underlying pathologies, including:

  • Stenosis – Narrowing of the spine, where the nerves travel through
  • Spondylosis – This is effectively Osteoarthritis of the spine
  • Degenerated discs
  • Herniated or prolapsed discs

Note: You do not need to have sciatica or nerve pain for this to be relevant to you.

How Inversion tables actually helps sciatica

how traction tables help low back pain, sciatica

Short answer:

By inverting your body, your spine is tractioned. This improves the space around the nerves as well as stimulating healing and flow of fluid.

Long answer:

Traction of the vertebrae changes the position of the nucleus pulposus. This is the gooey part of your intervertebral disc. Tractioning the vertebra has been shown to improve space and reduce pressure on the disc. This also increases the area of the lateral foramen where the spinal nerves exit.(1) It isn’t known how well this maintains once full bodyweight is back on your spine though.

We often get asked for recommendations, so here is a quick link to the most popular, most affordable Inversion table on Amazon:

 sciatica treatment with tilt tableAre inversion tables safe to use

When instructions are followed, yes they are.

The main things to remember are to have someone with you to help if needed and check with your GP first to ensure there are no medical issues that may not be able to handle the change in position, such as a cardiac condition.

How far should you tilt on an inversion table

Studies show that you need to have at least 26% of your body weight force on your spine to achieve an effect on your low back.

Maitland suggests 30-45kg weight to be ideal on average, so it does not need to be your entire body weight and often just part of half way can achieve the required effect.(2)

Conclusion

The evidence is inconclusive on traction and inversion tables but anectdotally and theoretically that can be beneficial in helping relieve low back pain and sciatica. If you have had experience with low back pain and inversion therapy, let us know how it helped you.

Looking for more? We have compiled all the best info in one, complete, evidence based rehab guide


Back pain, Chronic Pain, groin pain, Hip pain

Quadratus Lumborum – Why it hurts and How to fix it

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Back pain, Quadratus lumborumThe Quadratus Lumborum can cause some real grief through your back, buttock, hip, and groin but with the right management, exercises and self-treatment, you can be pain free – long term.

Where is quadratus lumborum pain felt?

You can see the pain referral patterns below for the deep (closer to the spine) and superficial fibers of the QL muscle. Referral from the quadratus lumborum can vary a lot between people due to this varied referral pattern, in some, it can be a literal pain in the butt and others it is the side of the back, hip or the groin.

Quadratus lumborum pain Quadratus lumborum pain

Quick anatomy

You can easily see from the video below that is the quadratus lumborum tightens up, it can pull at your bottom ribs, vertebrae or pelvis and if this happens one side more than the other, it can lead to some real asymmetry and not just cause back pain but a whole raft of other things.

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How can a tight quadratus lumborum effect you?

Apart from being painful, it can also increase the load on quite a few other structures. Often when one side tightens up it can lift that side of your pelvis a little making you feel out of place or out of alignment (even though your back can’t go out of place,1). It can also pull at your ribs, tilting you to the side, limiting your reaching and restricting your breathing. And last but not least if the QL is tight on both sides, you get more compression on your spine.

The QL can also:

  • Cause a sharp stabbing pain in the low back
  • Cause pain and limitation when trying to turn in bed or stand from sitting
  • Make it look like you have a leg shorter than the other by holding one side of your pelvis higher
  • Contribute to a lot of other issues such as patellofemoral pain, trochanteric bursitis and scoliosis due to asymmetrical tension

So how do we fix it?

In three steps:

  1. Ease the pain by decreasing tension by releasing the muscle (stretching often doesn’t help)
  2. Get you back to normal by regaining full range of motion through your back and hips
  3. And finally, treat the cause by improving strength of the QL so that it can handle everything you throw at it

1. Ease pain

For this, we need the muscle to relax so the most important thing is reducing aggravating activities and applying heat. Heat can be applied be a wheat bag, hot water bottle, heat rub or anything similar, it will make a big difference. Of course make sure you don’t make it too hot or hurt yourself, by following the instructions.

Also, you can directly release the quadratus lumborum, which is far more specific than stretching. Check out our past blog post to learn how to do a myofascial release for your Quadratus Lumborum with a simple massage ball or the QL Claw.

2. Regain normal range

We need to now get everything back to normal – not just the quadratus lumborum but the muscles that have changed because of the asymmetry that the QL caused. The following stretch is perfect for this, just remember to relax into it and that it isn’t, no pain-no gain.

Gluteal stretch: This will help even you out and regain hip range

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3. Strengthen

Now get you quadratus lumborum stronger so that it can handle what you want to be able to do. A stronger QL means less pain and you have more control and power, without having to avoid things constantly.

To load the QL, we need to load the side of your body and the best way to do this is the side planks and the one sided farmers carry:

Side plank Level 1

Hold for up to 1 minute. Once you can do that comfortably, progress to level 2 below.

side plank for core strengthening

Side plank Level 2:

In the side plank, raise your top leg up and down up to 10 times. Repeat 3 times each side.

Side plank leg raises

one sided farmers carry for QL strengtheningOne-sided farmers carry:

Hold onto a dumbbell, kettlebell or anything with a bit of weight to it in one hand and do some laps (e.g. 10 x 10m laps on each side).

Carrying a weight on one side makes the QL and obliques on the opposite side work hard to keep you upright.

Note: Don’t do two-sided carry like in the picture! Carrying in on the right for example makes the left torso work hard to stop your upper body tilting over and vice versa but also do one side and then the other. This can work great to strengthen not only your quadratus lumborum but also your lateral hip and obliques.

Tip: try to stay upright!

And that’s it.

Heat

Release

Stretch

Strengthen

Work at that most days and notice the results. For a more detailed rehab plan, download our  Complete Low Back Self-Rehab Guide to get great results.

On a side note, once you are feeling improved, don’t slack off on the exercises, they are great to do just to maintain yourself in great condition, even if it is just three times per week.


Back pain

Slipped Disc: What is it and how to fix it

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Slipped discs are very common, right? Well, to tell you the truth… they don’t actually happen! Find out what a slipped disc really is and how YOU can sort it out yourself.

Slipped disc, Herniated disc, disc bulge and sciatica are all interchangeable and often used to explain the same thing. Now I need to say first of all that intervertebral discs cannot actually “slip” as they are firmly attached to the vertebrae above and below vertebrae by very strong ligaments – Slipped disc is just a colloquial term which has bred a lot of fear over the years but really there is nothing to fear!

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!

Discs cannot actually “slip” as they are firmly attached to the vertebrae above and below vertebrae by very strong ligaments

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 vertebra is an 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 of a harder outer layer, holding in a gooey middle.

How does a Disc herniation occur?

When too much force is repeatedly put through the front of the disc (such as bending forward, slouching and lifting heavy objects) the gooey center 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.

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 one 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 stabilize 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.
  • disc bulge, slipped disc, herniation - self treatment physiotherapyAggravated 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 go to the hospital or see your Doctor

  • Weakness in your legs
  • Change in bladder or bowel (toileting) function.
  • Constant unremitting pain or pain not improving

If in doubt see your local health professional as this information is not meant to replace the assessment and advice of a health professional.

“Slipped disc” Self-treatment

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 and remember, a slipped disc doesn’t exist!

For a more thorough rehab plan, download our Complete Low Back Self-Rehab Guide

Also see: progressed exercises for keeping back pain away


Back pain, Core strengthening, Health, physical therapy, physiotherapy

Beating Low Back Pain – Must know Physiotherapy Exercises

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Don’t put up with low back pain and Sciatica. Below are the best and safest exercises to treat your low back pain yourself.

With 80% of the population experiencing low back pain in their lifetimes, and 84% of those having a recurrence within the same year, this is a huge problem, but a problem that can be helped… alot! As with most other pain and injury, treatment and exercises combined lead to optimal results, so below are five exercises for you

As with most other pain and injury, treatment and exercises combined lead to optimal results, so below are five of the best exercises for you to rehabilitate your low back pain at home.

1. Bridge, level one:

Start by lying on your back on the floor or bed with your knees bent. Squeeze your buttocks together and lift buttocks off the floor until your body is aligned. Hold for 5 seconds, then lower down. Repeat 10 times twice.

Brideg - up

Bridge level 2:

For the next level up if the above is too easy, keep one leg straight out in the air and perform with one leg. 10 reps each side, 2 sets.

For the next level up if the above is too easy, keep one leg straight out in the air and perform with one leg. 10 reps each side, 2 sets.

SL bridge 1SL bridge 2

2. Glute sling stretch:

Our favorite stretch!

glut and Lat stretch - Hip flexibilityglut and Lat stretch - Hip flexibilityglut and Lat stretch - Hip flexibility

Start on your hands and knees then bring one knee between your hands. stretch the other leg out behind you and across to the other side. Now slowly walk out over your knee with your hands until you feel a good stretch.

Hold for 1 minute each side.

Tip – If that is too much of a stretch then go down onto your elbows first.

3. Bird-dog: 

Instructions: In four point kneeling slowly raise one arm and leg on opposite sides, making sure to keep your back straight (imagine your dinner is sitting on your hips – it is all about control). Lower down in a controlled manner and repeat, 10 times each side twice.

Beginners: Start by raising one leg only.

birddog 2birddog 1

4: Hip flexor stretch: This is important to unload the Low back and pelvis:

hip flex 1hip flex 2

Tip: to get a good stretch “tuck your bum in” or draw the bones at the front of your pelvis up towards the roof. You should feel it in the front of your hip or top of your thigh.

Hold for 1minute.

5: McGill Curlup

Place your hands down on the floor underneath the natural arch in your lower back (Don’t flatten your back.) Only lift your head and shoulders off the ground – unlike crunches, there should be no movement of your lumbar spine. Your hands are there to make sure your back is not curling off your hands or crushing them.

Once you have good spine control then you can take your hands onto your thighs and slide them to the top of your knees to do the curl-up. It doesn’t feel like you are going far but with repetition, it can get your abs firing well.

Begin with 20 at a time, and build up.

mcgill curl up

The key to all of these exercises is to maintain control and don’t rush them.  Do these exercises twice daily for 6weeks and notice the difference (but don’t stop there!)

Also check out our Lower Back Rehab Guide

And if you want more and harder exercises to strengthen up your low back: Get into some QL strengthening!

Please Share, like and comment to let me know how you go.


Back pain, Core strengthening

Acute Low Back Pain – Getting up and moving

• By

Low back pain is an incredibly common condition and is the single most common thing I see in practice every day. Luckily there are some great exercises to do early on to get you up and moving.

The following facts show just how seriously we should take back pain!

The bad

  • Low back pain affects 84% of the population at some point in their lives (1,2)
  •  38% of people have back pain each year (3)
  • Close links with low back pain and neck pain (15 fold increased the risk of neck pain)

The Good

  • 50-80% recover within 4-6 weeks
  • This is not uncommon

It may feel really sore and at times disabling but as long as you follow my recommendations below you have a good chance of recovering 100%

In most cases, the majority of low back pain is not serious. What a lot of health professionals do not tell their patients is that 85% of low back pain is categorized as “Non-specific low back pain”. This means that the pain and disability do not have a definitive cause or diagnosis. This non-specific low back pain is what we will be talking about today and I will be giving you the information and exercises to get you walking right and up straight again.

Because 50-80% of people recover in 6 weeks the usual advice is to take painkillers and keep active – but the thing is there is more you can do to speed it along!

First I need to say, yes there is the remaining 15% of back pain that is specific and does have a diagnosis so it is important to have these ruled out and see your doctor – especially if the pain is not improving.

Below I am going to outline a guideline for getting your back to the best it can be when you experience acute low back pain.

Phase 1. Initial inflammatory phase:

This is the stage where most likely it is uncomfortable to walk, bend over etc and you just want to curl up in a ball and stay there (that will not help!). In this phase you need to abide by the Tips below:

  • Number one rule is to keep moving, within reason. This prevents the structures around the spine such as the muscles in spasm from stiffening up too much. This is also very important in order to decrease the loss of stabilizing muscle activity. Now you don’t need to continuously keep moving – just don’t stay in one position for a long period (more than 20 minutes).

Bed rest is one of the worst things for back pain

  • Gentle range of motion exercise: knee rocker – Lying on your back with your knees bent up and feet on the ground – slowly let your knees drop to one side, and then the other. This is a gentle exercise and not to be forced or pushed into pain. Little and often throughout the day.
  • Safe sleeping positions: The best position is in side-lying with your knees bent up a little and a pillow between the knees. This position decreases the forces on the spine and allows muscles to relax.
  • If you must sleep on your back then have a pillow under your knees to unload the spine.
  • Stretch to straighten up: when in back pain your hip flexors tighten up and put a shear force through your spine and cause you to have a bent over, shuffling posture.

hip flex 1hip flex 2

Tip: to get a good stretch “tuck your bum in” or draw your front hip bones towards the roof. You should feel it in the front of your thigh or hip.

Hold for 1 minute.

Phase 2. Recovery:

In this phase, the main things causing stiffness and pain are muscles that are tight and in spasm in your hips, glutes and low back.

1. Glute stretch: To get into the below stretch, start in four-point kneeling and bring one knee forward between your hands. then extend you

To get into the below stretch, start in four-point kneeling and bring one knee forward between your hands. Then, extend your other leg out behind you and across to the other side. Lean forward in this until you feel a stretch in your glute region. To add more of a stretch, walk your hands out in front of you. Hold for 1 minute each side

glut and Lat stretch - Hip flexibility glut and Lat stretch - Hip flexibility

2. Hip flexor stretch: as above in phase 1

3. Bird-dog exercise:

In four-point kneeling slowly raise one arm and leg on opposite sides, making sure to keep your back straight (imagine your dinner is sitting on your hips – it is all about control). Lower down in control and repeat, 10 times each side twice.

Beginners: Start by raising one leg only.

birddog 1birddog 2

4. Bridge, level one:

START POSITION: Lying on your back with your knees bent.
Stabilization: Tighten abdominals.
Squeeze your buttocks together and lift buttocks off the floor until your body is aligned. Hold for 5 seconds and then lower down. repeat 10 times twice.

Brideg - up Brideg 1 legges - up

Phase 3: Strengthening and back stability – and maintain!

To do this make it a routine to do my top five Low back pain exercises daily.

Maintaining core stability is important in preventing flare-ups and ensuring you at your best if flare-ups do happen, to speed up recovery.

Thanks for reading and remember looking after your back is ALWAYS important, not just when it is sore.

Looking for a more detailed self-rehab plan? Download our Complete Low Back Self-Rehab Guide


Back pain, Core strengthening, Spine

QL Muscle Strengthening: Beat Low Back Pain

• 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

.

.

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 farmers carry

one sided farmers carry for QL strengthening

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.

Looking for more? Download out Complete Low Back Self-Rehab Guide

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


Back pain, Health, Hip pain

The Best Glute Stretch

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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:

YouTube player

What does this glute stretch actually stretch?

  • 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!

Looking for more? We have this and much more in a full, evidence-based, rehab guide.


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