Are you experiencing back pain that is increasingly getting worse? Are you frustrated at your lack of progress? If so, this blog is for you!
Let us start off by saying that there are many different forms of back pain. The type of back pain you are experiencing will often dictate what exercises you will respond to. For simplicity, we have divided back pain into 3 categories depending on what type of movements you prefer. The first grouping are the extension responders, the second group are flexion responders, and the third group often have trouble with stability of the SIJ (Pelvic joint).
# 1 – Extension Responders
Are you experiencing symptoms that:
• Worsen with sitting and bending
• Improve with standing and walking
• Are often worse first thing in the morning
• May include sciatic symptoms (associated leg pain symptoms)
Extension responders tend to be between the ages of 20 and 65 who experience low back pain, likely accompanied by sciatica (pain that starts in the low back and travels down the leg, or pain present in the leg) that worsens with sitting and bending. Sudden and abrupt movements, like coughing and sneezing can increase the pain.
Typically, if you are an extension responder, you will find relief in standing and walking. There may be associated diagnostic imaging findings of a posterior disc herniation in the lumbar spine at the level of L4/5 or L5/S1. However, obtaining imaging is not mandatory to try movement specific exercises or to seek out the advice of a registered physiotherapist or chiropractor. If this description sounds like you, you may benefit from an extension exercise protocol. Here are our top three exercises for these extension responders.
1. Sloppy push-ups
• Lie down on stomach
• Start in push up position
• Press upper body off of floor
• Exhale at the top
• Sag the hips toward the floor
• Repeat until leg pain is abolished
• Repeat until back pain is minimal or gone
• Continue sets of 15-20 every waking hour
2. Repeated extensions in standing
• Stand with feet just greater than shoulder width
• Place hands in small of back
• Bend backwards as far as possible and return to neutral
• Repeat 15-20 reps every waking hour
• Repeat until pain is abolishe
3. Standing hip flexor stretch
• Maintain a staggered stance
• Tilt pelvis posteriorly
• Brace your abdominals
• Slowly lower into lunge
• Hold for 1 minute
• Perform 3-5 x per day