Managing Lower Back Pain with Extension Exercises

Posted On: April 21, 2020

Have you ever tried to “stretch out” your lower back pain and not had it work? I can’t tell you how many times I have heard this story relayed by any one of the many yoga enthusiasts in Highland Park who to me as a chiropractor. The scenario will typically play out with the person showing me a stretch, pulling their knees to their chest or bending forward and grabbing their ankles.

The trouble is, they may be doing more harm than good. I am not saying that in certain cases stretching doesn’t work, but in most people aged 20-55 stretching by bending forward or with your knees to the chest doesn’t help.

When asked how the pain started, many patients with lower back pain either can’t recall how it started or are surprised that it happened so easily when they bent to pick up something as trivial as a sock.

What people don’t often realize is how much time they spend in a forward flexed position. We all of course bend to the floor to dress. The time we spend in a seated position however, is a huge factor in causing lower back pain.

Sitting puts pressure on the discs of the lumbar spine. It can actually cause the ligaments of the spine to deform over time and can lead to weaker structures that are easily damaged.

So how do we undo this stress? By moving in the opposite direction. For my North Shore yoga enthusiasts I will throw out this yoga quote, “Life is balance.”

So how do you balance life to take care of your lower back? Take breaks from sitting, get a standing station at work, walk short distances rather than drive. Stop bending forward so much, do the opposite and bend backwards arching your back. Stop stretching with your knees to the chest and do a press up (cobra pose in yoga speak).

But before you go and try all of this, there are some caveats. You should get examined by a chiropractor or a McKenzie trained physical therapist. Those of us who have been doing this for awhile realize it doesn’t work on everybody and only through a good examination can that provider identify what direction you should move to help manage the problem.

For those of you who have been frustrated by trying to stretch your back out. Going in the opposite direction and arching your back may very well be your ticket to freedom (nirvana).

I hope this helps. Stay well and Namaste.

Dr. J



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