Back Pain

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

Osteoarthritis Back Pain Stretches & Exercises

Buy Osteoarthritis WorksheetOsteoarthritis (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.

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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.

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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.

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Knee Anatomy

Lower Back Pain Back Flexion Stretches

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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