According to the American Chiropractic Association, 80% of Americans will experience some kind of lower back pain throughout the course of their lives. So the question tends to not be “what if?”..., the question is more like “when?” and what will YOU do about it?
In my wiser years, I have taken on the “train smarter not harder” motto but this was only after I injured myself in my early 20’s after lifting too heavy doing a front squat and not warming up effectively enough. You can say I learned the hard way.
Now I make sure I warm up before every workout and practice my mobility drills on a weekly basis.
Mobility is just as important as flexibility if not more so. When it comes to staying injury free and keeping current injuries at bay, doing weekly mobility drills will ensure your body is moving as freely and easily as possible without pain.
Mobility is an indication of the strength within the range of motion of the muscle and is usually a strong indicator of the entire structural balance of your body as a whole.
The problem with back injuries is once it happens, it’s never the same and most likely will be something you will need to work through for the rest of your life.
So you need to change your routine up and find the time to incorporate your warm-ups and mobility drills because you will have flare-ups. You’ll be brushing your teeth one morning and unexpectedly your back will seize up. Or you will be having a super stressful week at work or with a sick parent and when you go to bend over to pick up the garbage- BAM! Your back goes out. Not fun.
Unfortunately, this is the reality of life, getting older, etc and you can count on something like this happening to you at some point during yours.
Sitting is being referred to as the modern day smoking and is comparably just as bad for us. It is the worst for mobility and tends to tighten our already restricted muscles up more. And of course, most Americans sit for hours upon hours each day. And this doesn’t seem to be changing with the emergence of new technology and our long hours at our jobs.
With the statistics pointing to you most likely incurring some type of back injury in your life and with the countless hours, we sit every day, how can we combat our pain while keeping our current injuries at bay?
Here, I share my five favorite mobility stretches with you as well as my number one app to help you manage your back pain efficiently and feel better TODAY.
This is a great hip opener which can alleviate pressure or pulling on the lower back. Get into a kneeling position. Lunge forward with a knee on padded mat. Position one foot forward. Straighten the hip of the rear leg by pushing your hips forward. Don't hyperextend through the lower back. Make sure you are pushing forward through the glutes. Hold the stretch then repeat with opposite side.
This is an awesome multi-joint stretch. Start in a pushup position. Put your hands underneath your shoulders. Your feet should be hip-width apart. Bring one foot up to the outside of the right hand, then sink your hips down while keeping your chest up. Make sure the chin stays tucked. Hold for a 2-seconds. Then bring that foot back to the starting position. Switch and do the other side. Do 4-6 on each side.
This is a great stretch for the hamstrings, hips and lower back. Stand just outside hip-width apart. Reach down grab the toes of shoes. Use that as leverage to pull yourself down to the bottom position. Then push the knees out with the elbows. Keep the head aligned with the body and keep your chest up. Hold this for two seconds. Stay there, lift hips up, then repeat without unlocking hands from toes. Do 6-10 reps.
Lie face up on the floor, with your knees bent and feet flat on the ground. Keep your arms at your side with your palms down. Lift your hips off the ground until your knees, hips, and shoulders form a straight line. Squeeze your butt like you have a quarter stuck between your butt cheeks and you’re trying to keep it there. Hold this bridged position while squeezing your butt. Hold it for 2-3 seconds and then release the contraction and bring your hips back down to start. Repeat 20-30 times.
Lie down on your side with knees bent and spine in a neutral position. This can be done with a band or without a band. Engage your lower abdominals to stabilize your spine and pelvis. Be sure your hip bones are stacked on top of each other (the tendency is for the top hip to rock backward). Press your fingers into the back of the top (left) hip to monitor contraction of your muscles. Keeping your heels touching, raise your left knee and rotate it back, creating an arc with your left knee. Do not allow your hips to roll back; keep them stacked! Lower your knee only to the point at which the muscles turn off -usually 1/4 to 1/2 inch for beginners. Continue rotating the knee up and down, keeping the contraction. Perform 5 to 15 repetitions or until fatigued, then switch sides.
Finally, my secret weapon I want to introduce you to Ouchie. Ouchie’s an app that I enjoy using when I’m experiencing any of my flare-ups and need to monitor what mobility drills are working and what aren’t. It’s free and available on iOS and Android: you can use it to track what hurts, learn about what you can do to treat your pain and engage with other people who have similar issues/pain as you to get some new insight and help manage your pain more efficiently.
Whether it’s back pain, neck, shoulder, knee, hip- whatever! It’s crazy to think but there are over 120+ million Americans who suffer from chronic pain on the daily, so you're not alone! There is an entire community experiencing a similar variation to what you are going through.
Ouchie offers evidence-backed tools to help engage chronic pain patients. This includes tracking on a day to day/week to week basis, cognitive behavioral therapy, community support, and educational resources which are all available to you for FREE. Download it today and check it out for yourself.