One of the most common complaints that bring patients to doctors’ offices is lower back pain. Of course, it comes with no surprise since most people, at least in the US, live sedentary lifestyles. Even those who exercise after work or on the weekends are still sitting behind a desk at least 40 hours a week. This blog will provide you with the tools necessary to relieve and prevent lower back pain including:
- Hamstring stretches
- Lower back exercises
- Ergonomic tips
- What to avoid to prevent lower back pain
Preventing Lower Back Pain Over Treating Lower Back Pain
In order to look at this issue from a preventative perspective, we first need to understand some basic facts.
- Your lifestyle may not be the root cause of your pain but it is contributing to it.
- Little things add up!
With the Covid pandemic so many people are working from home and the sit-to-stand desks have become very popular; this is great as long as we remember the sit-to-stand desk is meant to be used for both sitting and standing and not standing only.
If you have a sit-to-stand desk or you’re thinking about getting one (which you should!) make sure you watch the video below to make sure you’re using it correctly and to your advantage.
Don’t stop with replacing your desk. There are so many adjustments you can make to maximize prevention including sitting on an exercise ball instead of a chair. Sitting on an exercise ball activates the part of your brain (PMRF) that tells your body to be upright against gravity so you sit up with better posture. You want to make sure you use the right size ball for your desk height which is OVER 95 cm in diameter.
Everything you need to adjust in your workspace is too much to list in this blog, and I suggest you use my Ergonomic Checklist to make those adjustments as soon as possible.
You may be thinking, “Ehh, it can wait a few days” but don’t forget the little things do add up, so make your health a priority and make the necessary adjustments. I also have an Ergonomic Playlist on Youtube with everything you may need in case you are more of a video-watching type of a person.
Hamstrings and Lower Back Pain?
Believe it or not, there are more than your lower back muscles that are involved when it comes to having a healthy back. No one area is in pain or becomes a problem on its own because movement requires many body parts working together to perform.
Areas you want to assess for dysfunction, weakness, or imbalance include:
- Lower abdominals
- Upper abdominals
- Lower back
- All gluteal muscles
- Hip flexors
In other words, you need to assess the front and back of the lower portion of your spine, hips, and legs. That is because when it comes to sitting for an extended length of time, day in, day out, these are the muscles that become shortened and overstretched.
How does that impact the lower back and contribute to the pain you may ask! The most common misconception of pain is that the location of the pain is the source of pain, but most of the time that is not the case!
When it comes to chronic (occurring over a longer period of time) issues, there are many things that contribute to the pain and the root cause can be a dysfunction stemming from somewhere else.
You see, movement is like a concert. The body parts are the individual musicians that need to play their instrument, the brain is the conductor that guides the flow of the ‘musical notes’ and the concert is it all coming together. A good concert requires every musician not only to play the correct notes but to chime in and out at the right times; this is functional movement with all the body parts playing their role and having the correct timing.
This is why stretching your hamstring in isolation with a band for example is not the answer you’re looking for because this does nothing to address the poor timing of the other ‘musicians’ and how they contribute to the harsh sounding concert aka dysfunctional movement.
Through Postural Neurology and Functional Movement, we get down to the root cause of the pain, correct dysfunctional movement patterns, and correct the map of movement in the brain. Find out how in the video above!
The Best Hamstring Stretches to Relieve Lower Back Pain
When stretching you never want to disregard the rest of the body, and isolating the specific area will not last long. No body part performs movement alone and the dysfunction that has resulted goes beyond the area of complaint.
When it comes to stretching the hamstrings, specifically, you want to take into consideration maintaining a neutral spine especially in your lower back, otherwise, this can change the quality of your stretch and what body part you end up actually stretching.
When I say a neutral spine, that means you don’t arch your back nor tuck your tailbone under you. The video below demonstrates this best.
And the exercise below is my favorite way to stretch the hamstrings while paying attention to the other body parts, building the lower abdominals, stretching the lower back muscles. Ironically we did this at 6 months of age in an attempt to put our big toe in our mouth! Nature is amazing, isn’t it?
Dynamic Neuromuscular Stabilization (DNS) is rehabilitative and functional movement exercises based on the natural movement progression that we all went through as babies learning to move, roll over, crawl, stand, and walk.
DNS is the ideal way to stretch and strengthen when it comes to injury, pain, and musculoskeletal imbalances because it addresses the whole body rather than just bits and pieces of you. If you want to learn more about DNS use the link above and visit my Youtube Channel for more exercises that are great for relieving and preventing lower back issues.
Don’t Do This When it Comes to Lower Back Pain
Don’t make the mistake of thinking stretching your tight hamstrings is going to solve all your lower back problems because it’s not. Most lower back pain cases are a result of lifestyle resulting in dysfunctional movement patterns and muscular imbalance. Adjusting lifestyle factors, especially ergonomics, is a vital component to treatment and in preventing further damage, but what about the current dysfunctional state of your movement?