Daily physical activity can help boost your mood, reduce the risk of chronic disease, help maintain a healthy body weight, relieve muscle tightness causing pain, and improve muscular strength providing support to your joints and bones.

Surprisingly, approximately only 20% of adults meet the recommended physical activity guidelines. Despite the often endless reasoning and excuses, your inactivity may be the cause of your back pain.

The problem? Many are, often, unsure of what kind of exercise or how much exercise they should be doing to help or prevent their back pain.

The Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology recommends at least 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity every week, combined with 2 days of strength training. However, if you are experiencing back pain erring on the side of caution is wise until pain levels have reduced or dissipated. Always consult with your local healthcare practitioner before starting any exercise program. Further, always make sure to include a proper warmup and cooldown when completing an exercise routine.

As mentioned in 5 Tips to Prevent Back Pain, strengthening the frequently neglected TA muscle is a great starting point to ease and prevent low back pain. Strengthening of the TA muscles is the primary focus of most low back rehabilitation programs. They can relieve the stress on the spine and provide support to the low back and pelvic girdle.

Further, stretching of tight muscles, often due to long periods of sedentary activity, can release and reduce associated back pain. The hamstrings, piriformis, and low back muscles can become tense from sitting in the same position for too long. Most healthcare professionals highly recommend breaks every hour or so to walk or stretch out these muscles. The following provides a brief overview of three stretches frequently prescribed for those suffering from low back pain.

The Hamstring Stretch

The hamstring muscles make up the bulk of the back of the thighs and are responsible for flexion of the knee. When these muscles are tight, they can pull down on the pelvis causing pain. To stretch out the hamstring muscles:

● Sit on the edge of a chair, with one leg out straight in front and your heel planted.
● Slowly bend forward at the waist. You should feel a gentle stretch in the back of your thigh. If you do not feel a stretch, place a stool under your outstretched foot.
● Hold this position for 20-30 seconds, for each leg. Do 2-3 times a day.

The Piriformis Stretch

The piriformis is a tiny muscle located deep in the buttocks. It can be problematic when it becomes tight and compresses on the sciatic nerve, causing low back pain and possibly radiating nerve pain down the legs. To stretch out this muscle:

● Lie on your back, with your knees bent and your feet planted on the ground.
● Cross one ankle overtop of your opposite knee. (If you feel a stretch in the buttocks, you can hold here for the count.)
● Reach your arms through and grab just below your knee. Pull your knee toward your chest.
● Hold this position for 20-30 seconds, for each leg. Do 2-3 times a day.

Knee to Chest Stretch

The knee to chest stretch eases tension in the low back, posterior hip, and buttocks. To perform this stretch:

● Lie on your back, with your legs straight.
● Bend one knee and bring it toward your chest.
● Huge your knee toward your chest.
● Hold for 20-30 seconds for each leg, and do 2-3 times a day.

If any exercise or movement causes pain, stop. You could be aggravating the problem.

There are many different causes and types of back pain. Thus, it is recommended to get a proper assessment conducted by a physiotherapist, such as our registered therapists at Aquafit Physiotherapy, to diagnose your pain correctly. Book your appointment to get on the right track to eliminate pain from your life, starting today!

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