3 exercises to do after lumbago (in video)

electric lumbar pain

Article reviewed and approved by Dr. Ibtissama Boukas, physician specializing in family medicine 

You've blocked your back, haven't you? Lumbago, kidney tower, lumbar sprain…call it what you want, but one thing is for sure: you have back pain! And you are looking for exercises that could relieve your lumbago.

First thing to understand: There is no exercise found on the Internet that can be specifically adapted to your lumbago, or your particular needs. For this, it will be necessary to consult a health professional (such as a physiotherapist) who will integrate therapeutic exercises within a global care.

Second thing to understand: There is no miracle exercise that can make the pain caused by lumbago disappear instantly. Indeed, the treatment has several aspects (discussed in the following article:  Lumbago from A to Z: What to do?).

Once these elements are understood, allow me to share with you 3 exercises that I suggest to my patients when they consult a physio or osteo for a lumbago. So be sure to go there progressive way, to listen to your symptoms at all times, and to consult in case of doubt!

Exercise 1: Diaphragmatic breathing and 3 beats

Footnotes: The muscle diaphragm is a dome-shaped muscle essential for breathing. In many people, including some who suffer from lumbago, it is underused at the expense of other inspiratory muscles located in the neck. By maximizing the function of your diaphragm, you can therefore release the tension of other muscles potentially responsible for your back pain. 

  1. Lie on your back (ideally on a yoga mat, and in an environment conducive to relaxation!) 

  2. Place one hand on the chest and the other on the stomach. The hand placed on the chest should not move, because we want to focus only on the abdomen. 

  3. Inhale through your nose, expanding your stomach like a balloon. 

  4. At the end of the inhalation, hold your breath for 2 seconds 

  5. Exhale then quietly by taking the air out through your mouth until complete expiration. 

  6. Repeat ten times, going slowly. 

  7. If the exercise becomes easy, progress by trying 3-count breathing. After inhaling while expanding your stomach, extend your rib cage laterally. If you still have some breath left, finish the inhalation by lifting your sternum.
  8. Then slowly exhale in the reverse order (lower the sternum, narrow the rib cage laterally and deflate the stomach).
  9. You can add light weight on your stomach to increase resistance.
  10. Repeat ten times, going slowly.

Objective of the exercise: Relax your tense muscles, desensitize your nervous system, allow you to relax, optimize oxygenation and blood circulation, stimulate the diaphragm, relieve symptoms of lumbago.

 

Exercise 2: Pelvic tilt 

 

  1. Lie on your back on a yoga mat
  2. Arch your back bringing your navel up towards the ceiling (there should be a hollow forming in your lower back) - we call this pelvic anteversion. 
  3. Then perform the opposite movement by crushing your lower back against the ground – this time called the posteroversion (or retroversion) of the pelvis. 
  4. Once you are comfortable with the 2 extreme positions of the pelvis, try to find the position of the pelvis that would be halfway between the anteversion and the posteroversion (or retroversion) of the pelvis. 
  5. Repeat the process twenty times.
  6. Once the movement is mastered (and painless), you can repeat it in a different position. Position yourself on all fours (hands under shoulders, knees under hips). 
  7. Tilt the pelvis backwards so as to round the back. Hold for a few seconds then arch your back so as to accentuate the hollow of the lower back (squeeze the shoulder blades together). Also hold for a few seconds and then return to the starting position. 
  8. Repeat for fifteen repetitions 

Objective of the exercise:  Mobilize your pelvis in various positions, promote optimal motor control of the trunk region, activate the abdominal and spinal muscles, desensitize your nervous system, increase your level of confidence, reduce kinesiophobia (fear of movement).

 

Exercise 3: Isometric glute contraction and bridge

 

 

  1. Lie on your back 
  2. Tighten the buttocks and press with the heels against the floor (without moving) 
  3. Hold the contraction for 5 seconds 
  4. Repeat 20 times. 
  5. Once the movement is controlled (and painless), you can progress the exercise by lifting your buttocks off the floor while pushing off with your heels. 
  6. Slowly lower your buttocks to the ground. 
  7. Repeat fifteen times, taking breaks as needed. 

Exercise objectives: Activate the gluteal muscles in a safe and progressive way, stimulate the posterior chain (the "back" muscles), promote extension of the spine, increase your level of confidence and reduce kinesiophobia (fear of movement).

 

How to apply these exercises on a daily basis?

You are probably wondering when to incorporate these exercises into your daily routine.

Often, people who have lumbago have acute pain, and are off work. They also consulted a doctor who told them prescribed medication (anti-inflammatories, pain relievers and/or muscle relaxants).

With this in mind, try to do these exercises regularly throughout the day. Since they are relatively easy and safe, you should do them every 2 hours if your schedule allows.

If you are taking medication, it may be appropriate to do the exercises before taking anti-inflammatory, painkiller, etc. This will avoid masking the symptoms, and using medication to avoid aggravating the lumbago. Another strategy would be to use the heat and/or ice after exercises to relieve residual symptoms.

 

Conclusion 

Here are 3 exercises that can serve as a starting point if you ever have lumbago. Although they do not replace a consultation, they can relieve you somewhat, and encourage you to move more by avoiding prolonged rest.

Personally, I also incorporate relaxation techniques of the style "Mindfulness" in the treatment of my patients with low back pain.

Note: If you try any exercise for your back, and don't see any improvement after a while, that's a sign you need to seek professional help. Often it's because the exercises aren't suited to your condition, or done the wrong way. And if you ever suffer from one of following symptoms, see a healthcare professional right away.

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