Care for your lower back: 4 things you can do.

About 4 years ago I took a class and at one point, the class participants had to perform some form of baseball slide on a mat. Run and go prone on a mat. I was up, ran and with speed hit the mat prone. Mid- way into my slide, I felt pain shooting from my lower back. I played it cool but, was a bit concerned. After moving around a bit, I knew for sure that I needed to take a break from physical activity for, at least a few weeks. Getting home was a pain; Couldn’t walk fast and I couldn’t sit. On the bus ride home I quickly got to thinking about how to take care of this. Here are a few things that I did to help diminish pain and help accelerate the healing process.


1: Go horizontal- and when vertical, try standing as opposed to sitting. As soon as I got to my place, I just needed to lay on the floor with my knees bent and feet flat on the floor. I had hyper extended the lower back during the slide and to give more detail, I had a stiff low back to begin with. When I needed to send e-mails, I was standing most of the time. I could not sit for extended periods of time.


2: About a week later, I was feeling better and started mobilizing the low back. It was easiest to start lightly rotating. I was laying down again and for this movement, It just required me dropping my bent legs side to side. I later progressed with picking up my feet having the thigh perpendicular and lower leg parallel to the ground and dropping the legs side to side. This improves the R.O.M. (Range of motion) but also has an added benefit of working the internal and external obliques.


3: Flexion and extension of the low back. I tried sitting after a couple of weeks and it wasn’t as bothersome. So I started to mobilize the back in a different way with the abdominal curl up. Have your feet grounded and back on the pad so that you are in an incline position. As you come up, think about peeling off of the mat- trying to leave the lower back on as long as possible. When you are seated, get tall through your spine before coming back down. Keep in mind, get tall but do not over extend! When you come down, act as if you are rolling out a carpet with your spine, one vertebrae meeting the mat (L-5,L-4,L-3, etc.) The abdominal curl up from the sit-up bench will help facilitate movement of the spine because your spine will be flexing and extending. Through this move try to keep the feet grounded.


4: Side bend w/ Reach. I like doing this against the wall because I have an easier time making sure I’m not overworking my lower back and can concentrate on the quadratus lumborum contracting on one side and stretching on the other. This movement happens through the frontal plane; a plane, for most of us, don’t get a whole lot of movement through. Get your back against a wall and contract the abdominals. Your heel will be about 1 foot away from the wall. Next, bend your torso to the right while maintaining contact with the wall. As you continue to laterally flex to the right, get your left arm to reach over head. When you bend to the left, you will reach overhead with your right arm.

As wIth anything, if you feel any discomfort and it gets worse, STOP! Also, do not rush through it. Some movements might be a bit too advanced if you just recently sustained an injury.

Start out slow and eventually try aiming for 3 sets of 15 repetitions of all the movements.

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