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.

How to Crack Your Back

Cracking your back (or self manipulation, as we call it) can feel great, and it can help relieve back tension and back pain when it's done correctly. So before you attempt to adjust your back with a good back crack, it's very important to have a proper diagnosis on what's causing your back pain and the proper ways to crack your back for your type of back pain. And if you have certain diagnoses, you should not crack your back at all, so make sure you have cleared it with your doctor or physical therapist. It is best to have them do it first to make sure you know what it's suppose to feel like.

The first way to crack your back is using a medium to low height chair. If the chair is not padded, you might want to use a towel for extra padding. Put your hands behind your head, and lean back over the backrest of the chair where you want to pop your back. Taking a deep breath in and letting the air out as you lean back.

The next way to crack your back is by using your hands behind you. I like to call this the reverse Heimlich Maneuver. Clasp your hands behind you in the area you want to crack. The motion will be upward at an angle. Use a quick thrust when you do this, and taking a deep breath in and pushing when all the air is blown out helps.

Now here are some ways to do it with a foam roller. Make sure to prop your knees up when doing these. Put the roller horizontally on the ground where you want to crack your back when you lie on it. Put your hands behind your head again to protect your neck. Use a quick push when you lean back, and taking a deep breath in and pushing when all the air is blown out helps. You can also put the roller at an angle to get the rotational adjustment. Make sure you talk with your doctor or physical therapist to find out which way will work best for you.

Finally, lie down on your back. Try to keep your upper back flat on the ground through out this manipulation. Put one leg straight out, and then bend the other one up and over the leg that is straight out. Some people like to hook the foot onto the back of the knee to help support the leg. Put the opposite arm straight out to the side to help keep your upper back on the ground. Then take the hand of the same side, and place it on your buttocks area. You will push downward and pull over at the same time. Use a quick push when you do this, and taking a deep breath in and pushing when all the air is blown out helps.

Related Videos:

Upper Back Pain Exercises & Stretches

Lower Back Pain Back Flexion Stretches

Osteoarthritis Back Pain Stretches & Exercises

Osteoarthritis (OA) of the spine (or back) is caused when the joints and discs in the neck and lower back degenerate. It can cause stiffness and pain in the back and is usually worse in the morning and at night.

These stretches and exercises should help with the osteoarthritis pain in your back.

The first stretch is called the pelvic tilt. You will roll back onto 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. Hold these for about 3-5 seconds.

Now you will do a figure four stretch. Cross your foot over onto the thigh of your other leg into a figure four position. Grab the leg on the ground underneath the thigh, and pull your leg toward your chest. Hold this stretch for 30 seconds, and do three on each side.

Then you will do a single knee to chest stretch, bend one knee and bring your leg up to your chest as far as you comfortably can. Hold this for 30 seconds and do it three times on each side.

The next stretch is a child’s pose stretch. Turn over onto your knees and sit back onto your feet. Put your arms out in front of you on the ground and stretch them forward reaching in front of you. Hold for 30 seconds and do them three times. If it is comfortable, you can hold them longer than 30 seconds.

Get on your stomach in prone. This will help you stretch your spine into extension. You can prop up on your elbows and hold it for a few minutes.

Now go up on your hands and knees in a quadruped position or all fours. Try to keep your back straight like a tabletop, and try to keep your neck in a neutral position so you don't strain anything. Now lift your opposite arm and leg and the same time. Some people call this the bird dog exercise. Start off with 10 on each side.

The final set of exercises are going to be planks. Start with a plank on your elbows. You can do this modified with your knees bent and on the ground, or you can get into a full plank position. Make sure your elbow lines up with your shoulder, and that your body is in a straight line. Hold this for about 20-30 seconds, and work your way up to a minute. Finally you are going to lie on your side with the side you want to strength on the ground. Try to get your body in a straight line, and place your elbow on the ground just below your shoulder. Come up into a side plank. Hold it for 15-20 seconds, and work your way up to a minute. If this is too hard, you can start the side plank on your knees.

Related Videos:

Lower Back Pain Back Flexion Stretches

Lower Back Pain Exercises & Traction

Lower Back & Core Exercises with the Miracle Back Pillow

Sponsored Content: This video represents the honest opinions of Doctor Jo. Thank you to MiracleBack for sponsoring this video and providing Doctor Jo with a free Miracle Back Pillow to use. If you purchase a Miracle Back Pillow from these links/ads, Doctor Jo will receive a commission.

The Miracle Back Pillow is not only a uniquely shaped pillow designed to help relieve lower back pain, but it's also a great tool for lower back and core exercises.

Click Here to Purchase the Miracle Back Pillow!

This video will show you some simple exercises you can do with the Miracle Back Pillow for lower back pain and core strengthening. 

Watch my full Miracle Back Pillow Review.

Spine Anatomy

Sponsored Content: This video represents the honest opinions of Doctor Jo. Thank you to GPI Anatomicals for providing Doctor Jo with free Spine Models to use. If you purchase the product from these links/ads, Doctor Jo will receive a commission.

This spine anatomy video will show you what your spine looks like on the inside and how it can degenerate over time.. The spine is divided into the cervical, thoracic, lumbar, sacrum, and coccyx region. There are 33 bones that interlock together to make the spinal column. Most back pain comes from the lumbar region.

To start off with, I will show you what a healthy segment looks like.

Each vertebra has a main body and processes coming from it. The discs in between act like a cushion to protect our spine and prevent the bones from rubbing together. The center of the disc is called the nucleus pulposus (NP), and it is a gel-filled like fluid. This area can become herniated, and start pressing on the nerves. The main bone in the back is called the spinous process. The spinal cord comes down the middle and is protected by the vertebra. The peripheral nerves go out the sides into your limbs. The little bumps on the nerves are called the nerve roots. When the spine is healthy, the bone is smooth, and there is a lot of space for the nerves to pass through without being pressed on.

As we age, our spine starts to slowly degenerate. You can see there are some changes where there is a herniation. It is just a bulge at this point, and most of the time doesn’t cause constant symptoms. Sometimes if you bend over, or twist the right way, you might get a grabbing kind of pain. The bone becomes less smooth and the discs spaces are getting smaller.

Then as the spine degenerates more, or maybe we have a significant injury, the NP ruptures out into the spinal canal. This is when you start feeling numbness, tingling, pins and needles, or the feeling like your leg or arm is falling asleep. The reason this is something to be concerned about is because when the nerve is getting pressed on, the signal from your brain to your limb is not as strong. So when your brain tells you to lift up your toes when you walk, it is a delayed message, and sometimes this is when people trip, stumble, or even fall. You can also see that some bone spurs are starting to form, and the spaces are getting narrower. This can cause spinal stenosis and pinched nerves.

The final stage is severe degeneration, or osteoporosis. There is no more NP because it has herniated all the way out, or dried up, and is no longer making a good cushion for the spine. There are bone spurs all over, and the bone is uneven. The spaces are very narrow because there is barely any space left. Then there are a whole lot of issues because the nerves become very compromised.

The good news is you don’t have to just sit down and give up. Talking with your doctor or physical therapist is important because there are ways to help slow this process and get you feeling better.

Related Videos:

Knee Anatomy

Lower Back Pain Back Flexion Stretches


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