If you’re still working at home, sitting at a desk or spend most of your days seated and your lower back is tight, angry and painful then try these five QUICK methods to reduce or remove your pain. Whilst I cannot guarantee that these will remove your pain completely, they’re a good place to start if you need a little temporary relief. Sometimes all that we need is a quick fix to get us moving with a little less pain and that means we can do the more long term, meaningful stuff! Try them out and let me know how you get on!
Roll the balls of your feet - 2-3 mins.
The superficial back line is a huge piece of connective tissue that runs up the whole of your posterior chain - from the sole of the foot to the back of the head. It is so large that it can be dissected as one whole fascia and tightness through the superficial back line can contribute to lower back pain. Rolling your feet on a golf, lacrosse or new tennis ball for 1-2 minutes on each foot can ease up some of this tension. A good visual of how much difference it can make can be seen in the images above. As you can see, after rolling the soles of my feet for 1-2 mins each side there is a visible difference! This is without any further warming up or stretching and it only lasts an hour or so but such a considerable reduction in tension is a great tool to prepare for some meaningful strength training.
Roll your feet either barefoot or in socks. You really need to get stuck in there - it doesn’t feel that pleasant at first but keep at it and any areas that feel particularly tight, roll them a little longer. Take a before and after picture to see the difference!
2. Stretch your lats - 5 mins
Your lats are big muscles that in short, attach your lower back and pelvis to the front of your shoulders. They’re a big contributor to an anterior pelvic tilt and if they’re tight - can play havoc with your alignment. Using stretches that also incorporate deep breathing as a way of easing off tension are my favourite choice when it comes to tight lats as you’ll hit more than just the lats - you’ll also hit most of the muscles surrounding your ribs and abdomen.
My personal preference is Hanging Lat Stretch (image 1). Hang from a bar, ideally with an underhand or neutral grip either until you are holding 95% of your weight (using your toes to stop you swinging) or squatted down and holding enough of your weight to feel a stretch. This may provide enough of a stretch initially to elicit the desired response. To increase the stretch, introduce breathing to the exercise. First take a slow and deep breath in through the nose - trying to expand your rib cage out in all directions. Then, as you exhale - breath out of your mouth and forcefully compress your ribs down towards your pelvis. Repeat for 5-10 breaths at a slow pace.
Alternatively, if you haven’t got access to a pull up bar you can do Kneeling Lat Stretch (image 2) - essentially the same exercise, just in a kneeling position using your sofa or a chair. This one requires a little more control over your core and lower back but once you find that initial stretch position you’ll be good to go. Kneel in front of your chair/sofa and rest your elbows on the edge. Then, sit back onto your heels keeping your chin tucked down. Try to avoid arching your lower back as you push your chest down into the stretch. From this position, follow the same breathing technique - pushing your ribs down towards your pelvis.
3. Stretch your hips - 5 mins
Hips that are tight can also contribute to an undesirable anterior pelvic tilt and may result in the quads doing more work than they should be. Strengthening your hip flexors is a great idea and something you should consider adding to your weekly workouts but for quick relief, a stretch should do the trick.
If your quads are particularly tight, I’d recommend starting with the half kneeling stretch and progressing to a couch stretch when you’ve gained a bit more flexibility. In both stretches maintaining a neutral spine (avoiding anterior pelvic tilt) is important to ensure you’re actually hitting your hip flexors - not just arching your lower back. Pay attention to where you feel the stretch and use something for support if your balance is poor!
My top tip for these stretches, where possible, is to push your back foot into the floor - engaging your quads. Adding this concentric element to the stretch is a little more challenging but really helps target the desired muscles!
4. Train your glutes - 10 minutes
Working through a short glute workout is a great way of easing off tension in your lower back and helps strengthen the muscles around your hips - which long term will reduce your back pain. Try this workout and see how you feel afterwards!
General movement throughout the day is one of the most underrated ways of looking after your body. Everyone wants to know the best exercise for back pain or fat loss but what about just walking? We spend the majority of our lives sedentary these days so either going for a longer walk in the evening or a couple of 15 minute walks through the day will go a long way. We are designed to move, to interact with the world, to be in nature. So move! Get out your chair now and do 20 star jumps, take the bins out, spend five mins weeding your garden. Anything! Schedule it into your work day or agree to meet with a friend so that you can’t just sack it off.
If you suffer from back pain and would like some more help managing your symptoms or getting out of pain via training then drop me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org or submit an enquiry form on my contact page!
Exercises and remedies in this article are not permanent solutions to back pain and may not be suitable for everyone. By voluntarily undertaking any exercise or following any advice displayed on this website, you assume the risk of any resulting injury and Ruth Ellen Coaching cannot be held liable.