Low Back Hurts? – Don’t Hang Out on It!

Posted on April 7, 2016

IMG_3587IMG_3589Our fourth reason why your posture stinks is due to an over arched low back.  ***BIG DISCLAIMER*** for some of you it hurts for the exact opposite reason.  If you tend to walk or stand hunched forward, this blog does not apply as much to you, come in and see us and we’ll get you straightened out, pun intended.  

For those of you that tend to notice that you have a big low back arch, yes, sometimes this makes you look like you have a big butt, or you tend to lean back while you stand or find yourself leaning on counters, walls, etc, this is the post for you!  Is this you?

First, check out this quick video to better stack your posture “blocks”.  You need to be in the right posture for all these exercises to have maximum benefit and so that you’re strong in good, rather than bad posture!

As mentioned in the video, it’s normal to have a slight 15 degree curvature of your low back.  In order to maintain this, we have to have proper abdominal and glute muscle control and strength.  Unfortunately, it feels easier to stay upright by just leaning a bit more on your low back so that your joints can rest on each other and your muscles don’t have to work.  The problem with this is that you can then get pain from compressing your joints, and from the tissues in your back shortening and tightening.  We then get weaker in our abdominals and glutes and the problem gets worse.  First we have to learn to control our pelvis and get it to neutral, then we can worry about strengthening.

To simplify pelvis motion, we will focus on just forward and backward motion of the pelvis, but understand it can also move laterally and rotate.

The forward direction we will refer to as, ANTERIOR.

  • With the pelvis that means the front of your pelvis will be rotated forward, or down.
    • Kind of like an excited dog “perking” it’s tail up

The backward direction we will refer to as, POSTERIOR.

  • With the pelvis that means the front of your pelvis will be rotated backward, or up.
    • Kind of like a sad dog, tucking it’s tail between it’s legs

You should be able to move your pelvis in both directions and then be able to settle it into a neutral position.  Neutral is actually about 15 degrees anterior as seen below.

  • Start practicing your pelvic tilts here (You Tube search “corvallis and albany sport and spine pelvic tilts”):
  • You can then practice improving strength with a more neutral spine here (You Tube search “corvallis and albany sport and spine abdominal brace”): 
  • If you’re feeling motivated, continue to progress with these next 3 videos:

Then apply those same strength components to planks, other leg lifts and you’ll be maintaining neutral spine without pain in no time!

Now, all those strengthening exercise won’t do you any good if you don’t consistently remind yourself to stack your “blocks” with your posture here and there throughout the day.  You’ve been working on strength in proper posture, so if you fall out of good posture and spend most your time there you’re actually spending time in a weak position because you’ve been strengthening in a different, a better, position. Refer back up to the first video if you need to review this.

Now, a huge disclaimer to all this strength work.  You have to have proper mobility in your hips, low back, and mid back to be successful with all this.  You can search “corvallis sport and spine lower body stretching OR lumbar mobility OR thoracic mobility” and play around with some exercises. If you want more efficiency with your time, come on in and have a Physical Therapist evaluate you, identify your specific impairments, and streamline your exercise to move better with less pain as quickly as possible!

Good luck learning to rely on your muscles and not hanging out on your low back!

Dr. Dane Happeny, PT, DPT, Doctor of Physical Therapy

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