Bend your index finger back until it feels uncomfortable. An x-ray won't show what is causing your pain. When you return your finger back to normal, it feels fine. Similarly, some postures make your back "unhappy." When a random sampling of subjects were required to have their backs x-rayed, some showed abnormalities and others did not. Amazingly, some of the folks with spondylolysis and spondylolisthesis were pain free. Others, who complained of severe back pain showed no sign of deformity.
Weak abdominals are not always to blame for low back pain. Usually tight hamstrings are the culprit. Fitness testing may help determine the origin of your pain. If you score high in the bent knee curl up test, but low on the sit and reach trunk flexion test, focus on improving your hamstring flexibility. Muscles can be short or overtight from disuse.
Poor fitness leads to poor posture. If you carry most of your weight in your abdomen, your back muscles must counterbalance. The same is true concerning the relationship between your quadriceps and hamstrings. Your hamstrings should be at least 60 percent as strong as your quadriceps (thigh muscles). Tight hip flexors and hamstrings, combined with weak abdominals and upper back may be a prime cause for your suffering.
Drop a newspaper on the floor. Bend down to pick it up. You probably twisted in your chair and leaned over sideways from your waist. Unsupported forward flexion with a shearing diagonal force is unhealthy for the disks in your low back.
Your disks are collagen packets filled with water. You are taller in the morning because your disks are not compressed from hours of daily standing or sitting. When you wake up, sit on the potty, and proceed directly into your abdominal training, your inflated disks may protrude into your spinal nerve causing pain. Therefore, perform your crunches later in the day.
Does your back hurt when you walk? Walking loads and unloads your disks, like a massage. With most muscular problems, moving around helps to relieve pain. But more serious ailments could be aggravated while walking or moving. This may be due to a nerve impingement or herniated disk. In these cases, walking exacerbates pain because of nerve involvement. Pulsing and throbbing pain, or temperature disturbances may be a vascular issue.Check with your doctor and if he prescribes ice, try Durakold for your convenience.
Bend forward from your waist. At about 15 degrees of flexion your back muscles (erector spinae, quadratus laborum) eccentrically lengthen. When you bend to about 45 degrees your hips take over. Bend past 90 degrees and your back is supported by ligaments. Pain receptors called nociceptors are in these ligaments.
Sit in your chair with your left leg on the floor and your right ankle crossed over your left knee in a figure 4 position. Slowly bring your chest toward your right knee. Did you feel pain? Try your other leg. Disc injuries, muscular imbalances, lack of flexibility in the gluteals and piriformis (muscle under your hip) can create sciatic nerve problems. Check with your doctor if you feel tingling or numbness radiating down your leg.
Other stretches may relieve your low back pain:
1. Lie on your back and bring your knees to your chest in a fetal position. This stretches your erector spinae and quadratus laborum.
2. Lift one knee to your chest and grab it with your arms. Let your other leg remain on the floor. Switch legs and repeat. This stretches your hip flexor muscles.
3. Lean sideways into a wall keeping your pelvis stable. Bend sideways not forward. This may help if you have a disk that protrudes sideways.
4. Sit in your chair and slowly twist sideways maintaining a neutral spine throughout. This may relieve pressure on your disks.
5. Lie on your stomach. Raise your right arm and your left leg. Raise your left arm and right leg. This "Superman" exercise strengthens your erector spinae and quadratus laborum in your back.
6. Roll over onto your hands and knees. Lift your upper back and stretch resembling a "mad cat". Hold this stretch for 3 seconds.
7. Stand with your right hand against a wall. Grab the top of your left foot with your left hand. Bend your left knee until you feel a stretch in your left quadriceps. Switch legs and repeat.