Back Pain

Hi, I'm Doctor Jo, a licensed Physical Therapist and Doctor of Physical Therapy. I hope you enjoy my video demos of stretches & exercises for common injuries and syndromes. If you have a question, just ask. Be safe. Have fun. And I hope you feel better soon.

Spondylolisthesis Back Pain Exercises & Stretches

There are many different things that can cause back pain. You can be diagnosed with many scary sounding things. In some cases the spine becomes weakened or fractured and it is unable to maintain its proper position. The vertebra can start to shift out of place. This condition is called spondylolisthesis. If too much slippage occurs, the bones may begin to press on nerves and surgery may be necessary to correct the condition.  However, you can stretch and strengthen the muscles around the spine and possibly prevent the need for surgery.

The first exercise is called a pelvic tilt. Lie down on your back with your knees bent. You want to imagine pushing your belly button into the ground, or push your back flat onto the ground like you are squishing something. You can put your hand under the curve of your back, and try to push your back into your hand. Make sure you are breathing and not holding your breath while doing these exercises! You should also feel your pelvis rotate backwards slightly while doing this. Try for just five second holds, doing about 5 -- 10 and then work your way up to 30-second holds three times.

Next, keep your knees bent and flatten your back into the ground; slowly lift one leg just a little off the ground while you are raising the opposite arm above your head. Alternate back and forth and try about ten at a time.  

Next, bring both knees to your chest, and hold it for 30 seconds doing it three times. This is called a double knee to chest stretch.

Finally, you will stretch your hamstrings. You can check out my hamstring stretches video for other ways to stretch your hamstrings. Here you will need a belt, beach towel, or dog leash. Wrap it around the ball of your foot. Try to keep your leg straight and pull your leg up in the air towards you as far as you can comfortable go without bending your knee. Hold the stretch for 30 seconds and repeat 3 times.

Reverse Core Exercises & Traction for Lower Back Pain

Do you have a weak core? Is your back still hurting when you are exercising? Here are some reverse core trunk stability exercises to help prevent and relieve lower back pain. I'll also show how to do some traction at home to take some pressure off your back with simple positions.

Many times with low back pain our trunk area becomes unstable. The core muscles become weak and this can cause increased pain. Working the core can irritate the back sometimes, so this video is going to show you some reverse core or trunk stability exercises, and then finish with traction to the back. When you do reverse core exercises, your back stays flat and supported by the ground and you are moving your legs to give the lower portion of your abdominals a workout. 

First, you are going to lie down on your back. Bring your leg straight out and then bend your knee up towards your chest. You can do them all on one side or alternate back and forth. If that is too easy, bring both legs up off the floor and do the same exercise without putting them down in between. Then, you can add in arm movements, which is called the dead bug. Use your opposite arm when you kick out your leg. You can also do a bicycle movement with your legs in the air. Finally, you can put both legs at a 45-degree angle and keep them straight while performing a scissor like movement. 

For the traction, you want to find a countertop or area with a corner like in a kitchen. If you have shoulder problems, you probably don't want to perform this because it puts a lot of pressure on your shoulders. The best place to do traction is on a traction machine in a PT clinic or in a pool, but this will help relieve some of the pressure in your low back. Slide down into the corner pushing your arms out to each side. You can hang your legs all the way out in front of you. If that is painful on your shoulders, you can pull your feet in and bend your knees like a squatting position. If that hurts your shoulders, you can lock out your elbows, and hang in the corner with your feet barely touching the ground as seen in the video.

 

Back Strengthening Exercises with Swiss Ball

This video will show you some back strengthening exercises with a Swiss ball. Many different things can cause back pain. You can get back strains or sprains, and it can even be more severe like a herniated disc or spinal stenosis. You might even be diagnosed with big scary words like spondylosis or spondylolisthesis. It is very important to have good posture while performing these exercises. The Swiss ball or therapy ball is a great way to work your core muscle and gain good trunk stability. It doesn't take much to get a good workout on one of these!  Make sure you are holding your abdominal muscles in or contracting them while you are exercising, or you might fall off the ball. Sitting on it with good posture is a workout in itself.

The first exercises are going to be doing a series of pelvic tilts. You want to make sure you are moving just at your hips. If you upper body is moving, you are not doing it right. Have your feet about shoulder width apart, and make sure your knees and hips are bent at about 90 degrees. You can hold onto the ball for balance to start or put the ball against a wall. First you will just rotate your hips front to back, or anterior to posterior. Then you will do the tilts from side to side, or lateral tilts. Finally, you will rotate them around in circles, or a hula-hoop motion. Make sure to do each direction. You can start out with just 10 to 15 of each of these. They will feel easy when you do them, but make sure not to overdo it because you won't feel the soreness until later.

Next you are going to do some combination moves. Now you are going to gently lift one foot off the ground, or a hip flexion movement. Try not to go fast, the Swiss ball is about balance and control, and if you go fast, you lose the benefits of it. Alternate your feet about 10 times on each side. Next you are going to kick your leg out, or a knee extension movement. If those become easy, you can add your arms into the exercises to make it harder. First try lifting your opposite arm with your leg, alternating back and forth. Then try lifting the same side arm and leg together for increased difficulty. Finally, you can lie down on the ball with your knees bent, and then lift your knees as seen in the video.

 

Moderate Swiss Ball Exercises

One of the best ways to strengthen your core and make your back stronger is to use a Swiss Ball. Once you have mastered some of the easy Swiss ball exercises, try some of these moderate level Swiss ball exercises.

You are going to start off with a basic crunch. Roll your body forward until your hips come slightly off the ball and your lower back is touching the ball. Try not to strain your neck while doing these exercises. Roll back slowly and controlled, and roll back up. Just start out with 5-10 and work your way up. Now roll down to where your shoulders are on the ball into a tabletop position. Squat down bending your knees and come back up into the tabletop position. This is working your hamstring muscles. Try to keep the ball as still as possible. If the ball is moving around a lot, you are probably not ready for these exercises yet.

Next, you are going to come off the ball, and kneel down propping your elbows on the ball. This is like a prayer position. Tuck your bottom in so you are in a straight line. If that is easy, then you can push up onto your toes into a plank position. Start off with 5-10 seconds and work your way up. Now you are going to do a walk out or roll out. Put the ball close to you on your knees. Roll onto the ball and continue rolling through and walking your body out with your hands. Just try rolling out to your knees first, and then you can make your way to your toes.

 

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