Finally! Say Goodbye to Sciatica and Lower Back Pain With 21 Simple Stretching Exercises, Even Betty White Can Do It!

Stretches for Lower Back Pain Betty White
Stretches for Lower Back Pain Betty White

I bet you already know that back surgery is hazardous. More than 70% of operations fail to solve the problem even with modern techniques.

While taking drugs will not only cost you a fortune, it might contain harmful chemicals as well. The good news is there’s a much simpler alternative, and it will only cost you a minute and minimal effort.

According to one online poll, it is estimated that:

  • 80% of adults will suffer from back pain at some point in their lives
  • 57% of adults over the age of 60 currently suffer from chronic back pain
  • 20% of individuals under the age of 60 now suffer from chronic back pain
  • 33% of adults have a significant disk abnormality but are not experiencing any pain or symptoms

So how are we to interpret those statistics? In essence, the question is not if we will experience low back pain, but when. It can be a result of or caused by many factors.

Ironically, low back pain can be a result of too much activity or not enough. Some of the prominent causes of low back pain include:

  • Herniated disks
  • Spinal stenosis
  • Piriformis syndrome
  • Arthritis

Lower Back Pain Prevention

What you do or don’t do can help prevent low back pain or make it more likely to occur. For example, some of the conventional agitators of low back pain include:

  • Prolonged sitting/standing
  • Certain sleeping positions (e.g., on your stomach)
  • Poor posture
  • Specific strength training exercises (e.g., back squat)

Specific strength training exercises can, in some cases, increase the risk of low back pain or injury.

Precisely, those exercises that directly load the spine (e.g., back squat, deadlift, and power clean). They placed a significant amount of compression and shear forces on the intervertebral disks—especially when using heavyweight and performed improperly.

Although it would be unfair to classify these exercises as dangerous, it is essential to recognize that they pose a slightly higher risk for low back pain.

If you suffer from chronic low back pain, it may be worth considering either employing an alternate strength training exercise or performing a slight modification to specific activities. It will reduce the risk of injury and low back pain.

For example, instead of doing back squats, you could employ front squats, Bulgarian split squats, lying leg press, or dumbbell lunges instead.

Additionally, you could deadlift using a trap bar with the weight elevated instead of deadlifting from the floor with a conventional straight bar.

Also, you could perform hang-cleans instead of power-cleans to avoid high-risk phases of movement as well as provide better low back support.

How Can Poor Posture Result in Back Pain?

Another predominant agitator of low back pain is poor posture. It only makes sense that keeping the spine in a flexed or overextended position for a prolonged period will eventually lead to or exacerbate low back pain.

So how can you identify and correct for poor posture? Dr. Kelly Starrett, a physical therapist, a renowned strength and conditioning coach, and author of Becoming a Supple Leopard, recommends the two-hand rule and belly-whack test.

Follow the two steps below to perform the two-hand rule.

1.) Place one thumb on the xiphoid process (sternum)
2.) The other thumb on the iliac crest (top of the pelvis) with the fingers splayed—palms facing down and parallel with the floor.

If the spine is in a neutral position, both hands are parallel. When the spine is flexed, the hands move closer together. When the spine is overextended, the hands move farther apart.

The two-hand rule is a simple method of bringing awareness to your spine’s current position and making adjustments as necessary.

The belly-whack test is another secure method of assessing your current posture. In essence, there is a certain amount of tension (albeit modest) required of the abdominal musculature to maintain a braced neutral spine.

Being able to take a quick whack to the belly ensures you have enough abdominal tension to support proper posture.

common misperceptions associated with low back pain

As with graying hair and wrinkles, changes to the spine’s disks and bones are a natural part of the aging process and should be expected.

There are incremental changes that occur to the spine as part of the aging process. Even so, said changes do not necessarily equate to low back pain or represent the cause of low back pain.

As depicted, several places within the bony structure of the vertebra could compress against the spine or nerve roots, thereby resulting in pain—for example, thickening of the pedicle, lamina, or hypertrophy of the facet joints.

All of these adaptations are possible as a result of regular participation in strength training. In other words, said adjustments in and of themselves are not necessarily harmful.

But when combined with age-related disk abnormalities may result in acute or chronic low back pain.

According to current research, nearly 100% of all adults have some form of “spinal abnormality.” That said, just because you have a spinal abnormality does not guarantee that you will have low back pain. Similarly, it is also possible to have low back pain without a documented spinal deformity (as seen on magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)).

So what does that mean? In essence, we cannot rely solely on MRI results to determine whether we should have low back pain.

MRI findings can sometimes help both the patient and physician to believe that these so-called “abnormalities” are responsible for low back pain when, in fact, they are not.

The following chart shows the relationship between age and the percentage of individuals with no back pain. Still, it has a documented disk abnormality, as depicted on an MRI.

It is also important to remember that although MRI results provide an extremely detailed picture of the disks and bones of the spine, they are not without their limitations.

For example, MRI pictures are taken while the patient is lying down; however, the patient’s pain may only occur when sitting or performing precise movements.

In other words, the underlying cause of the pain may not be able to be detected by the MRI while the patient is lying down.

Additionally, and in most cases, back pain will resolve on its own within a couple of weeks. So seeking invasive treatment options (e.g., corticosteroid injections, surgery) immediately upon the onset of low back pain may not be necessary.

Individuals may want to consider more invasive options when they have associated pain, numbness, or weakness in the same nerve-related pathway as indicated by the MRI.

If there is only back pain but no associated weakness, pain, numbness, or reflex changes, then the disk abnormality is unlikely, causing a severe problem.

Unfortunately, most people prefer to formally treat their back pain vice simply receive reassurance that it will get better on its own.

Ironically, receiving verbal reassurance vice unnecessary MRIs and treatments could save them a bundle in terms of future medical costs and pain.

Instead, most of what patients should and can be doing to address or prevent low back pain is independent of their actual MRI results.

21 Easy to Follow Strength Training, Mobility Exercises and Stretches for Lower Back Pain

Although most physicians may recommend scheduling an MRI or treatment options for a few weeks, very few, if any, suggest remaining utterly stationary in the interim.

For example, Dr. Kelly Starrett recommends that individuals get up and stand every 10-15 minutes to avoid prolonged sitting.

Additionally, he recommends four minutes of mobility work for every 30 minutes of continuous sitting. When daily mobility work is not an option (e.g., long car rides), Dr. Starrett recommends using some lumbar support that will help give support and keep the lower back in a better position.

In terms of back pain recovery and prevention, getting up and performing regular movement is paramount. Action helps to loosen the muscles, prevent unnecessary loss of ROM, and bring blood and nutrients to the area to facilitate healing.

The specific recommendations for exercise type, frequency, volume, and intensity will likely differ for individuals suffering from acute vice chronic back pain.

In both instances, individuals are encouraged to regularly perform a variety of strength training exercises, mobility exercises, and stretches.

The diagram below will show you the basic low-back strength training exercises, mobility exercises, and stretches. These simple exercises can be performed with minimal training and without equipment.

It is recommended that these exercises be performed at least once daily (more if tolerated). If you frequently or currently suffering from low back pain, it is essential not to be overly aggressive when performing said exercises. Doing so might lead to the worsening of pain or symptoms. 

Instead, you can do the following.

  • Perform a low-intensity warm-up (e.g., slow walk, stationary bike, elliptical trainer) for 10-15 minutes 
  • Followed by 3-5 strength training exercises
  • Followed by 3-5 mobility exercises 2-5 minutes each
  • Followed by 3-5 stretches for 30-90 seconds (or longer as tolerated).

Eventually (e.g., a few days to weeks), the pain should begin to lessen or subside altogether. Ironically, individuals often reduce the frequency of performing said exercises and stretches or stopped them entirely as they start to feel better. It is not recommended. 

The unfortunate reality with low back pain relief is that it is transient and reversible. If regular strength training and mobility work are not performed, the benefits of and results from said training will slowly start to diminish and eventually dissipate altogether over time.

5 Lower Back Strength Training Exercises

Plank

Plank Beginner

Beginner

Plank Intermediate / Advanced

Intermediate / Advanced

Plank Runners

Plank Runners Beginner

Beginner

Plank Runners Advanced

Intermediate / Advanced

Side Planks

Side Planks Beginner

Beginner

Side Planks Advanced

Intermediate / Advanced

Glute Bridges

Glute Bridges Beginner

Beginner

Glute Bridges Advanced

Intermediate / Advanced

Bird Dogs

Bird Dog Beginner

Beginner

Bird Dog Advanced

Intermediate / Advanced

6 Lower Back and Hip Mobility Exercises

Cow to Cat Pose

Cow to Cat Pose

Child’s to Cobra Pose

Child to Cobra Pose

Rocking (Forward & Back) Frog Pose

Rocking Frog Pose

Squat to Hip Hinge

Squat to Hip Hinge

Alternating Side Lunges

Alternating Side Lunges

Rocking (Forward & Back) Single Leg Flexion w/ External Rotation

Rocking Single Leg Flexion

10 Lower Back and Hip Stretches

Cobra

Cobra Stretch

Pigeon

Pigeon Stretch

Lying Knee Hug

Lying Knee Hug Stretch

Kneeling Hip Flexor

Kneeling Hip Flexor Stretch

Piriformis

Piriformis

Lizard

Lizard Stretch

Lower Back Twist

Lower Back Twist

Groin

Groin Stretch

Modified Hurdler

Modified Hurdler

Lateral Hip Opener

Lateral Hip Opener

How to Use An Inversion Table For Lower Back Pain

How to Use An Inversion Table For Lower Back Pain

If you are in your thirties, it is likely that you have experienced throbbing pain at the lower part of your back. Perhaps, you have been frustrated by the unpredictable and uncontrollable nature of the phenomenon’s occurrence.

The pain just comes all of a sudden and you feel helpless and unable to do anything at that point in time. However, if it makes you feel better, then you should know that you are not the only young, agile and virile individual who has experienced this unpleasant situation.

What is Lower Back Pain?

This particular type of pain is known as lower back pain. It can also be sometimes referred to as lumbar spine pain. As a matter of fact, lower back pain takes several forms. It could be a niggling pain developed due to an injury.

Conversely, it could just be spontaneous, without any obvious cause. Yet still, the lower back pain you are experiencing could be the outward manifestation of a different medical condition. Furthermore, the pain you feel could be a sharp twinge that occurs very briefly.

On the other hand, it is possible for you to experience back pain continuously over a long period of time. However, one thing that is quite certain is that lower back pain is both painful and unwanted.

Several ways of dealing with lower back pain have been evolved over the years. While most of these methods have not been medically or scientifically proven to be beneficial, clear and practical improvements have been noticed among people who have opted for these methods.

Due to the prevalence of lower back pain, we have decided to provide you with a detailed post that deals with one of the most effective methods of treating lower back pain – the use of an inversion table.

We’ll explain just how to use an inversion table for lower back pain. However, before we get to that, let us take a closer look at how lower back pain happens.

Why Do You Experience Lower Back Pain?

In order to really understand how lower back pain develops in the spine, it might be necessary to delve into a little bit of anatomy. The human vertebral column has thirty-three short bones known as vertebrae. Of these thirty-three vertebrae, the upper 24 are unfused.

This is because they are separated from each other by a thin layer known as an intervertebral disc. The nine vertebrae at the lower part are however fused into each other directly.

The spinal cord, which we are more interested in, is made up of only the 24 upper segments. It is very important to the body and plays a vital role as the main pathway through which nerve signals are transmitted from the brain to other parts of the body.

Furthermore, it also provides support for the body. The 24 unfused upper vertebrae are classified into three areas based on their location in the spine.

The seven vertebrae at the top are collectively referred to as cervical vertebrae, the next 12 vertebrae are known as the thoracic vertebrae while the remaining five, that are found at the tail end of the spine, are called lumbar vertebrae.

It is important to know that each vertebra in the column bears the weight of all the vertebrae stacked up on top of it. This then implies that vertebrae that are located in the lower area bear more weight than those that are located in the upper part.

This means that the lowest vertebra carries the weight of all the other vertebrae in the spine while the uppermost vertebra only bears the weight of the head.

This overlying weight exerts pressure on the underlying vertebra. The more the weight, the more the pressure exerted. Consequently, it is normal that the lower vertebrae are more susceptible to wear, tear and degradation.

Once the lower spine suffers any deformity or sees a significant change in the level pressure, it makes an outward manifestation in the form of back spasms and pain. This is the reason behind the persistence of lower back pain

Inversion Table

Any mechanism that is geared towards relieving the pressure on the spine or ameliorating back pain is classified as traction therapy. Nowadays, there are many different approaches that can be used to tackle lower back pain.

However, one of the most popular methods is the use of inversion table. Inversion therapy is traction therapy in which the individual undertaking the therapy is required to be ‘inverted’.

By being inverted, you lie at a downward angle in such a way that the head is at a lower level than your legs. It does not necessarily imply that you should turn completely upside down. It is based on the principle of reverse gravity.

If you are in an inverted position, your lower spine will be above the cervical and thoracic vertebrae. This will reduce the weight on your lower spine and as a result, ease the pain you feel there.

An inversion table itself is a rotating board (switch) that is attached to a metal casing. This enables your body to play out a flip-flop development securely. Your lower legs are safely kept up by an astute framework.

Thanks to this system, you do not need much effort to put yourself in an inclined or totally inverted position. Also, you will not feel any distress in your feet and shins while making use of an inversion table.

Essentially, it is a fitness and bodybuilding tool. However, it can also be additionally used in the treatment of back pain or just to unwind at night following full time work. Its advantages are various.

How to Use an Inversion Table for Lower Back Pain

It is important to know the basic parts of an inversion table in order to have an understanding of how to safely and effectively use it. Below are the basic features of a typical inversion table.

  • Headrest – The headrest is not a constant feature of inversion tables. This is because most inversion tables do not necessarily require one. These inversion tables have cushioned backrests that extend as far as your head. Usually, headrests are extensions of the backrests. Therefore it is possible for you to have an inversion table that does not come with a headrest.
  • Backrest – A backrest is a guaranteed feature on every inversion table. A backrest is a bed-like part on an inversion table that you lie on when inverting. There are different types and designs of backrests available. You can have an inversion table with a plastic backrest or one with just a durable fabric sewn around the frame. It is also possible to get padded backrests for enhanced comfort. It depends on your desires and budget.
  • Side Handles – A pair of side handles may also be present on either side of an inversion table. You can hold onto them for support and balance when inverting or coming back upright. If you are a newcomer, you will find this useful. People who are experienced in the art of inverting do not really need them.
  • Inversion Angle Limitation System – This is another feature you will find on every inversion table. It allows you to set a maximum angle of inversion if you do not want to invert completely upside down.
  • Inversion Table Frame – The backrest is held by the frame. It is usually sturdy and has plastic caps fitted to its base to prevent it from damaging the floor. You should check the weight capacity of an inversion table frame before buying one. This will enable you to know whether it can carry your weight or not.
  • Ankle Securing Lever – This enables you to fasten your ankles in place. It is a spring device that you can adjust to fit the size of your ankles so that you can keep them in place, regardless of their size.
  • Ankle Holders – Ankle holders are a pair of padded rollers or plastic holders that are shaped like a cup.
  • Footrest– This is where you put your feet when you step onto the table. It is a metal piece that is located just below the ankle holders.

Essentially, aside from additional ostentatious features, these are the basic features of an inversion table. Now that you are familiar with these parts, you can proceed to learn how to use the table. We provide you with a step-by-step guide in the following section.

  • Assemble the Table

Inversion tables, by default, come unassembled from the factory. Therefore, the very first thing you need to do when your inversion table arrives is usually assemble it into one piece.

Most manufacturers include a manual/guide which details how to assemble their inversion tables. Therefore, if you follow the instructions in the manual, assembling the inversion table should not be a particularly challenging task.

  • Adjust the Height of the Inversion Table

Once you assemble the inversion table, you can start using it. It is, however, necessary for you to adjust the height to suit your own height. Again, just like the assembling, this is also a simple process.

Every inversion table has a scale that is located directly below the bed. This scale has the heights that are available for that inversion table listed on it. On the side of the bar, there are holes that correspond to each marked height.

You can then adjust the height of the inversion table by allowing the height adjustment tube to slide either up or down, depending on your height, until it gets to your required height.

To do this, all you have to do is to pull the adjustment knob that is located on the side of the bar. Do ensure to lock the inversion table to that height by releasing the spring on the adjustment knob.

Adjusting the height of the table is very important in order to maintain balance. It enables you to carry on with your inversion in a steady and controllable manner. For example, if you set the height of the table too low for your height, the rate of inversion will be faster than you want.

Conversely, putting the height too high will make it difficult for you to invert. Hence, it is always recommended that you adjust the height of the table.

  • Set the Inversion Angle Limit

It is not advised that you go all the way down at once when inverting. If you are new to the art of inversion, it is best that you take things gradually and go from low angles before slowly going steeper.

In view of this, manufacturers of inversion tables have a feature that allows you to set a limit for the angle of inversion. Your inversion table is definitely going to have either a tether strap, a spring pin system, or an iControl brake.

These devices are included to help you restrict the maximum angle of tilt of inversion. The table will not tilt beyond the preset angle. They are quite easy to use.

Tether Strap: To use the tether strap as your tilt angle limiting device, simply adjust its length to suit your preference. This is done exactly the same way you would adjust the adjustable strap on your backpack. The shorter the strap is, the smaller the angle of inversion. In the same vein, a longer strap will allow a steeper angle of inversion.

Spring Pin System: There are graduated holes that indicate tilt angles of the inversion table. To set a maximum angle of inversion, you only need to put the pin into the hole which corresponds to your desired angle. There is no hole for 900. Remove the pin completely if you want to go at full tilt.

iControl Disk Brake System: Some inversion tables make use of a system known as the iControl brake. It is a lever that you can pull to lock the table in place at any angle of your choice.

  • Inspect the Inversion Table

Your safety must come first. Hence, it is always wise to double-check your arrangements and settings in order to be sure that everything is in order. Check that you have properly carried out the above mentioned procedure.

Tilt the table to see the extent of the tilt angle when you are on it. Once you are sure that everything is in the right place, you can proceed to step onto the inversion table.

  • Step Onto the Inversion Table

Once the ankle supports are securely around your legs you can lower the spring pin into the nearest selector hole to lock the ankle supports in place. Lie firmly on the backrest and make sure you are comfortable.  

You can then put the backrest in motion by simply raising an arm. You are about to begin your journey. So, relax and enjoy it!

Conclusion

Making use of an inversion table is a cheap and effective way of treating lower back pain. If you are planning to obtain one, do so quickly and remember all the steps involved in how to use an inversion table for lower back pain. You will be glad you did.