I’ve been thinking about all the changes so many of you have gone through over the past two months. Besides missing out on your time with me, your at home desk is likely not as ergonomic as your office desk. Many of you have jobs that keep you moving during the day, and now you are working at home and spending more time sitting than you normally would. I know I am! I think there is a “Covid-15” in my future, much like the “Freshman-15.”
And then the gardening. On my walk around my neighborhood I have noticed how many lawns and yards have been improved over the last few weeks. It is just beautiful seeing all the fresh looks. My own yard is getting some much needed improvements, it is always last on my to do list. All of that bending over and pulling on weeds or planting of plants and hauling dirt around can cause low back pain. I know many of you have expressed to me in the past the post-gardening pain you have experienced.
And what can we do at home to relieve the pain?
Just as I find myself treating the front side of your body to relieve back pain, these exercises will focus on strengthening your abdominal muscles. Weak, tight, or injured abdominal muscles and tight gluteal and quad muscles are primary causes of low back pain.
Here are some general guidelines to follow when stretching:
- If your muscles are tight, take a warm shower or bath before doing the exercises.
- Exercise on a rug or mat.
- Wear loose clothing.
- Stop doing any exercise that causes pain until you have talked with your provider.
- These exercises are intended only as suggestions. Please consult your Medical Doctor before starting any exercise routine if you have any preexisting conditions that warrant it.
- Caution: If you have a herniated disk or other disk problem, check with your healthcare provider before doing these exercises.
- Standing hamstring stretch: Place the heel of your injured leg on a stool about 15 inches high. Keep your knee straight. Lean forward, bending at the hips until you feel a mild stretch in the back of your thigh. Make sure you do not roll your shoulders and bend at the waist when doing this or you will stretch your lower back instead of your leg. Hold the stretch for 15 to 30 seconds. Repeat 3 times.
- Cat and camel: Get down on your hands and knees. Let your stomach sag, allowing your back to curve downward. Hold this position for 5 seconds. Then arch your back and hold for 5 seconds. Do 3 sets of 10.
- Quadruped arm/leg raise: Get down on your hands and knees. Tighten your abdominal muscles to stiffen your spine. While keeping your abdominals tight, raise one arm and the opposite leg away from you. Hold this position for 5 seconds. Lower your arm and leg slowly and alternate sides. Do this 10 times on each side.
- Pelvic tilt: Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor. Tighten your abdominal muscles and push your lower back into the floor. Hold this position for 5 seconds, then relax. Do 3 sets of 10.
- Partial curl: Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor. Tighten your stomach muscles. Tuck your chin to your chest. With your hands stretched out in front of you, curl your upper body forward until your shoulders clear the floor. Hold this position for 3 seconds. Don’t hold your breath. It helps to breathe out as you lift your shoulders up. Relax. Repeat 10 times. Build to 3 sets of 10. To challenge yourself, clasp your hands behind your head and keep your elbows out to the side.
- Gluteal stretch: Lying on your back with both knees bent, rest the ankle of one leg over the knee of your other leg. Grasp the thigh of the bottom leg and pull that knee toward your chest. You will feel a stretch along the buttocks and possibly along the outside of your hip on the top leg. Hold this for 15 to 30 seconds. Repeat 3 times.
- Extension exercise: Lie face down on the floor for 5 minutes. If this hurts too much, lie face down with a pillow under your stomach. This should relieve your leg or back pain. When you can lie on your stomach for 5 minutes without a pillow, then you can continue with the rest of this exercise.After lying on your stomach for 5 minutes, prop yourself up on your elbows for another 5 minutes. Lie flat again for 1 minute, then press down on your hands and extend your elbows while keeping your hips flat on the floor. Hold for 1 second and lower yourself to the floor. Repeat 10 times. Do 4 sets. Rest for 2 minutes between sets. You should have no pain in your legs when you do this, but it is normal to feel pain in your lower back. Do this several times a day.
- Side Plank: Lie on your side with your legs, hips, and shoulders in a straight line. Prop yourself up onto your forearm so your elbow is directly under your shoulder. Lift your hips off the floor and balance on your forearm and the outside of your foot. Try to hold this position for 15 seconds, then slowly lower your hip to the ground. Switch sides and repeat. Work up to holding for 1 minute or longer. This exercise can be made easier by starting with your knees and hips flexed to 45 degree angles.
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