Why Suffer with Back Pain?
Did you know that an estimated 580 million people have suffered from low back pain at least one time in their lifetime? Roughly 8 out of 10 people experience low back pain at least one time in their lifetime. I want to spend some time introducing the importance of making sure our legs and hips are strong enough to support our low backs. This diminishes any potential cause for low back pain. It also ensures as individuals we can live a pain-free life and enjoyable life with less pain. Why suffer with back pain when you can do something to treat it?
Many studies have concluded that improvement in hip strength has shown statistical improvement in low back pain. This leads to improved functional capabilities in individuals. To make sure we are addressing all four regions of our hips, we will discuss exercises to improve hip flexion stability, hip abductor strength, and glute strength.
Those with low back pain show similarities in their primary pain complaints. Most come in with tight hip flexors. The first exercise to add to a routine is to make sure we have the proper mobility in the front of our hip capsule. This stretch is very simple to do both in standing and in a kneeling position. I like to go through both variations with patients to allow them to feel which of the exercises is best for them. Both exercises are great to do – we do not have to choose one or the other. The hip flexor exercise should be performed in 2-3 sets of 30-45 second holds.
Another important region to address is the abductor muscles of our hips. These muscles help to control our bodies on uneven surfaces, as well as when using steps. Therefore, I believe this muscle group is one of the most important to ensure proper strength. I like to start with a clamshell exercise with patients as a baseline exercise. From here, we can progress to a sidelying leg raise and further along to performing monster walks with a band around the knees or ankles. These exercises should be performed in 2-3 sets of 10-12 repetitions to promote true strength in our legs.
Lastly, to promote glute strength and proper stability on our posterior chain it is very important to make sure we are performing strengthening for this muscle group. To start, I like to add a glute bridge with 2-3 second holds at the top of the movement to activate and fire this muscle group. I also like to add a squat variation for patients who are safe and capable of performing this movement correctly and add 1-10 second holds at the bottom of the squat to activate the glute even more. Again these exercises should be performed like the hip abductor strengthening exercises with 2-3 sets of 10-12 repetitions to promote strengthening.