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.

Facet Joint Syndrome Stretches & Exercises

Facet joints in your spine are the ones that help make your back more flexible. They are the small joints that help you bend and twist. When they are inflamed or not working correctly, you can have a lot of back pain. These stretches and exercises will hopefully help.

First, lie on your back with your knees bent. Starting with 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 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 bridging. Push your bottom up off the ground, but try to do this slowly, and do one segment of your back at a time curling upward. Then slowly go down the same way, one segment at a time.

Turn over onto all fours, and then go into the child’s pose. You want to sit down onto your feet. Bow down to the ground and stretch your arms as far forward as you can. This is a great stretch for your mid back and shoulders. You can hold it for 30 seconds up to a minute.

Come back 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 one arm up and bring in straight forward. Alternate your arms, doing 10 on each side. If that is easy, then do the same thing with your legs, and alternate each side 10 times. If it is still easy, then lift your opposite arm and leg and the same time.

The last stretch will be a cat stretch. The cat stretch is performed by tucking your chin in and arching your back. You can hold this for 30 seconds and do it three times.

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Degenerative Disc Disease (DDD) Stretches & Exercises

Degenerative Disc Disease (DDD) can be an acute or chronic issue. It's basically when the intervertebral discs of the spine start to degenerate.

Degenerative Disc Disease can happen from a trauma either big or small over time, and it is often associated with aging. These stretches and exercises should help.

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. Make sure you are breathing and not holding your breath while doing these exercises.

Next you will do a bridge. Push your bottom up off the ground, but try to do this slowly, and do one segment of your back at a time curling upward. Then slowly go down the same way, one segment at a time.

Now you will do some stretches. For the hamstring stretch, you can use a strap, belt, dog leash, or towel. You want your knee to be straight with this stretch, so only go as high as you can before the knee bends. Pull it up in the air towards your head, and if you pull your toes towards you as well, you will get more of a stretch. Hold this stretch for 30 seconds, and do it three times.

Then you will do a piriformis/glut stretch. Cross the leg that is hurting over into a figure 4 position. Pull the good leg up towards your chest by grabbing underneath the knee. You can use a belt or leash to help pull the leg up if your hips are not very flexible.

Next you will stretch your quad in a kneeling position. Place the knee of the quad you want to stretch on the ground, and take the opposite leg and bend it in front of you at a ninety-degree angle. You might want to place a pillow under your knee to protect it. You will be in a lunge position with the knee of your injured side on the ground. Then grab the ankle of the side you want to stretch and pull it up towards your buttocks. Hold for 30 seconds, and do it 3 times.

The hip flexor stretch will be in the same position. Place the knee of the hip flexor you want to stretch on the ground, and take the opposite leg and bend it in front of you at a ninety-degree angle. You might want to place a pillow under your knee to protect it. You will be in a lunge position with the knee of your injured side on the ground. Now drive the knee of the uninjured side forward away from your body. Hold for 30 seconds, and do this 3 times.

Now you are going to get onto all fours or in the quadruped position. Try to keep your hands directly underneath your shoulders, and try to keep your back in a straight line, no arching up or down. Kick one leg straight out behind you. Do ten on each side.

For the last set of stretches, you will still be in quadruped. The cat/cow or cat/dog stretch is performed by tucking your chin in and arching your back. Then drop your back down and lift your head looking forward. You can hold this for 10-15 seconds and alternate back and forth for about a minute.

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Ankylosing Spondylitis Stretches & Exercises

Ankylosing spondylitis is an inflammatory condition that can cause the tissues that attach to the spine to swell. Over time, this can lead to bone formation and possibly fusing of the vertebrae. This type of arthritis can result in a loss of flexibility.

These simple stretches and exercises can help improve range of motion and decrease pain.

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. Make sure you are breathing and not holding your breath while doing these exercises!

Next try some gentle trunk rotation stretches on your back with your knees bent in hooklying. Gently rotate your bent legs from side to side. You can hold them on each side for 3-5 seconds or you can continuously rotate them back and forth. Again, try to keep your lower back on the ground. You can start off with 10 and work your way up to 20-25.

Now you will do a bridge by pushing your bottom up off the ground, but try to do this slowly, and do one segment of your back at a time curling upward. Then slowly go down the same way, one segment at a time. You can start off with 10 of these, and then work your way up.

Still lying down on your back with your knees propped up, you are going to do a simple knee to chest stretch. Bring one knee towards your chest by grabbing underneath your knee and pulling up to you. Hold the stretch for 30 seconds. You shouldn’t feel any pain, just a stretch through your lower back. You will stretch each leg three times. You can alternate back and forth or do them all on one side before switching.

Turn over in a prone position on your stomach. You will prop up on your elbows for a prone prop. Try to keep your hips down on the ground while your stomach and chest come off the ground. If the elbows are too much, you can come down slightly to where it is comfortable. Hold this for 30 seconds and do three. Then if that becomes easy, still in the same position, now come up into a push up position on your hands. Still try to keep your hips down on the ground if possible. This one is a little more stressful on the arms, so you might want to start off with 10-15 seconds, and work your way up from there.

For the last set of stretches, turn over onto all fours, or quadruped. The cat/cow or cat/dog stretch is performed by tucking your chin in and arching your back. Then drop your back down and lift your head looking forward. You can hold this for 10-15 seconds and alternate back and forth for about a minute.

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Erector Spinae Muscles Stretches

Your erector spinae muscles, or your extensor muscles, help extend and rotate your back. So the best way to stretch them is to curl your body forward and do rotational movements.

The first stretch is the cat/camel stretch. Get on all fours in a quadruped position. Arch your back upwards while you are tucking in your chin. You can hold the stretch for 30 seconds and do three, or you can hold them for 3 seconds and do ten of them. Make sure you are tucking in your chin to get the best stretch.

The next stretch is a double knee to chest on your back. Lie down and bring both knees up to your chest by grabbing either around your knees if you don’t have any knee issues, or underneath if you do have some knee issues. Then tuck in your chin and hold the stretch for 30 seconds, three times. Some people like to rock in this position to get an extra stretch.

Finally, sit on the ground with your feet straight out in front of you. Take the leg of the side you want to stretch, and cross it over the other leg. Then twist your body toward that side, and place your opposite elbow on the outside of that knee for the stretch. You can push on your elbow to get a better stretch. Hold this for 30 seconds and do it three times.

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