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).

In this blog, we will briefly discuss the extension responders and provide some insight into exercises that may be helpful!

# 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 abolished

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

DISCLAIMER: ​Please be advised that these Lessons from LIFT Physiotherapy were created to share content on different topics. As such, we appreciate that there will be many different opinions regarding the topics discussed below. For clarification, the clinicians who have collaborated on and created these blogs are offering suggestions based on their experiences. We understand that there are a variety of exercises that would be applicable to the featured topic, however, we have chosen to highlight a select few for simplicity. The program outlined below will not be appropriate for everyone. Skill level, strength, mobility, stability and body awareness will determine whether the suggestions are appropriate. It is advisable to see a healthcare professional prior to engaging in any of the activities outlined.

To get the treatment you need and experience how rehab should be, visit us at LIFT Physiotherapy located at 2225 Dundas St. East unit 4, Mississauga Ontario.  We are a reputable provider of physiotherapy in Mississauga and physiotherapy in Etobicoke.  Call us at (905) 282 – 9922 or book online at