Back Pain Prevention
Now everybody wants a healthy back, good mobility and no pain even as we get older. That’s what we are going to explore today. Something quick you can do that’ll give you the biggest bang for your buck to make that happen.
This came about after I’d seen a patient in his 80s. They came in to see me due to some knee pain. During the assessment looking at some of his movements, I noticed that he had really good mobility in his back. Like the best I’d ever seen from anyone at that age. So, I asked him what’s your secret?
And he told me that due to having some back pain in his 30s. Therefore, every morning since then for the past 45 years he does some simple back exercises. I’ll go through exactly the exercises that he did later in the video.
Now we know moving and exercises are good for the back, motion is lotion. However, it got me thinking what exercises would be the ultimate for this. Something you do every morning, that’s quick so like 5 minutes, so more likely to do it and stick to it. As we know consistency is really important, so I chose these 3 exercises.
Exercise 1 – Downward Dog, to Child pose to Cobra
Ok, this is a bit of a cheat as it’s not one exercise. However, trying for the ultimate here so can combine them into one and each of these has an interesting thing they can help with. The downward dog part is great because for one it gets us into thoracic extension. In this day and age, we spend so much more time in flexion, everything is in front of us, we sit at computers, on our phones, driving, watching TV. One of the best ways to get into thoracic extension is reaching overhead and looking up. This is something we never do anymore. Back in those original days we would have been looking up at trees for food, reaching for it, looking at the sky, and nature, but no more. We can counteract this with the downward dog though.
It also helps stretch that sciatic nerve off, which is only a good thing.
With any of these exercises though you’re only going into a comfortable range, not forcing it which might hurt you. Like if I was going to do the splits which I can’t, but if I was I wouldn’t force the movement I’d tease into it and look to gradually improve it over time. Remember tease it don’t force it.
From the downward dog, you’re moving into the child’s pose a real nice stretch of all the back muscles to help with mobility.
You’ll then flow into the cobra, a nice lumbar extension, and an exercise commonly used to help with disc issues, from this you’ll then flow back into the downward dog and keep repeating.
For each of the exercises shown, to keep it around 5 mins total do 45seconds on each so this whole flow multiple times in 45s seconds rest between exercises 2 and 3 and do 2 sets.
Exercise 2 – Sprinter stretch with rotation
This is a great stretch to add rotation to the spine. Start on all fours and bring one foot forward in line with the same shoulder. Next, you’ll put the opposite hand on the floor and reach the other hand to the ceiling also looking up to the ceiling as you do it. You’ll then swap to the other side.
If lifting the knee up it’ll help to increase that hip flexor stretch, also so important. Again if spending so much time seated in just work adjusting that position.
Exercise 3 – Extensor loading
Now another important thing to be thinking about is keeping the back strong. A classic for this would be deadlifts. Alternatively, some kettlebell swings. You’re going light for this, more about getting the movement in and rather than going for PBs first thing in the morning. Obviously, it’s not like you’re going to roll out of bed first thing in the morning and be able to start doing this for most. So instead you can do swimming, not in the pool but as an exercise to help with loading the back, laid on your front you’ll lift an arm and the opposite leg little hold then swap to the other side, and keep alternating, will start your morning well getting your brain in gear coordinating this.
If you want something much simpler than this, then the exercises the patient has been doing for 45 years follow a very similar approach but the exercises are simpler so if you find any of these too hard maybe start on these and then build up, so he was doing touching the floor then reaching to the ceiling, he did side bends just moving each side, he was doing this probably a bit more aggressively than I’d suggest but hey maybe that’s helped and he finished on rotations side to side.
If wanting ideas for other extensor exercises you can do in the gym then check out this video which is an alternative to the deadlift check it out and I hope this was useful for you, if you’re wanting us to do exercises for other body parts then let us know!
Finally, if you already have back pain and would like some structured help with it, you could check our low back pain management blog