A stiff or sore lower back is something the majority of us experience from time to time. When left unattended it can negatively impact on a persons day to day activities and quality of life. Over the years we have helped hundreds of people manage and relieve pain with the simple drills shown below.
For more exercises for hip mobility check out our blog 5 Exercises for Tight Hip Flexors.
Hi, guys. Ben here from Movement Enhanced, and today we’re going to talk about five quick drills you can do to help relieve a stiff or a sore lower back. Now, in the case of lower back pain, what we generally see is that we see poor posture and an anterior-tilted pelvis. Now, what this means is that when the pelvis is tilted forward, we see extra strain being placed on the lower back, and often that stiff or sore feeling.
What we need to do in this case is identify the reason this is happening and not just address the symptom. In the case of most lower back pain, we see the lower back pain being the symptom and the cause being tightening flexors, inhibited glutes, and a weak anterior core. What we’re going to run through today is five quick drills you can do. They’re going to help with this problem and relieve some of the tension through this area.
The first drill we’re going to talk about today is a hip mobility drill, and in particular, the couch stretch. Now, if you’ve followed some of our videos before, we’ve posted a blog or an article on the top five drills we use for hip flexors, which are going to be attached below, but for the purpose of today, we’re going to simply talk about the couch stretch.
To begin the couch stretch, you’re going to place a bit of foam close to a bench. You’re going to walk your foot back up on the bench and place your knee on the ground. Get your hip into extension by trying to squeeze your glute and posterior tilt your pelvis. From here, you can raise your arm up overhead, being sure to not lean too much into your lower back and overextend.
The second exercise we’re going to talk about today is a single leg glute bridge. The reason we’ve chose a single leg glute bridge in the case of lower back pain is to void any axial loading of the spine. Now, in the case where the lower back is stiff or sore, we want to minimize the compressive forces through the spine and use an exercise like a glute bridge to activate the glute and the hamstring, but not get that compressive force. To set up for the glute bridge, you’re going to lie flat on your back, bring your heels in close to your bum, and then straighten one leg. You’re going to push your heel into the ground and push all the way up until I could draw a line from your shoulder, through your hip and your knee.
The third drill we’re going to run through today is called a dead bug. Now, a dead bug is an anti-extension based anterior core drill, which is great to teach posture and position of the pelvis. In the case of lower back pain, we generally see an overextended posture, and this is the purpose of this drill, is to bring the pelvis back into neutral and in a little bit more posterior tilt.
To set up for a dead bug, you’re going to lie flat on the ground. Now, in this position, you’re going to ask the client to push their lower back down against the floor to bring their pelvis back into neutral. They’re going to try and crunch their ribcage down to increase the tension through their anterior core and then gently dropping one leg down to the ground and bringing it back up. Now, this is the most basic dead bug variation and there’s 10, 20, 30 variations out there that all progress in difficulty, but for the purpose of this video, we’re just going to focus on the most simple one, which is the leg drop.
The fourth drill we’re going to run through today is with the mini band. Now, the drill in particular is a monster or a crab walk. The reason this becomes important in the case of lower back pain is, generally, we see the glute med switching off, leading to excess or compensation through the lower back, trying to stabilize. When we move in a squat or a deadlift or any athletic based movements, we need the glute med to stabilize the hip and provide stability.
Now, to set up for a mini band crab walk, what you’re going to do is have the client place the mini band around their knees. From there, they’re going to drop into an athletic stance, where they’ll have a slight bend at the knee and at the hip. From there, you’re going to cue the client to corkscrew their feet into the ground, generating torque or tension through the hips. Holding that position and a neutral spine and posture, they’re then going to lead with their left foot, taking a step, following with their right foot, holding tension through the hips the whole time.
Now, the final drill we’re going to run through today is a self myofascial release drill. We’re going to use a peanut, which is a trigger point ball, and we’re going to use that apply some pressure either side of the spine. The reason we didn’t start with this drill is because, generally, we’re treating the symptom and not the root of the cause if we just trigger point all the time and don’t address the bigger, underlying issue.
To start the movement, you’re going to lie flat on the ground and you’re going to need a box to place your feet on. From there, you’re going to lift your hips up and place the trigger point ball either side of the spine, into the erectors. What you’re going to do is relax, and try and breathe and use the pressure of your hips, or the weight of your hips, to sink into the erectors and provide some pressure to help relieve some of the tension through this area.
Now, in the case of lower back pain, what we generally see, is we see certain muscle groups getting really tight, and certain muscle groups getting really weak. In the case of the pelvis and lower back pain, we see the hip flexors becoming really tight for long, extended periods of sitting, and we find the anterior core and the glutes switch off and become inhibited. Now, our role in a gym is, when a client comes in and presents symptoms like a stiff or a sore lower back, is try and release the hip flexors and do specific work to switch on the glutes and strengthen the anterior core.