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.

Herniated Disc Exercises & Stretches

For a herniated disc, to relieve the back pain, you want to do extension exercises and stretches to help push the disc back into the space in your spine

To start off, lie down 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.

Now turn over onto your back and prop you knees up with your feet flat on the ground. 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.

Finally, 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.

Spinal Stenosis Stretches

Spinal Stenosis is caused by the narrowing of the spaces in the spine which puts pressure on the nerves and causes pain. These are my top three stretches to help relieve the pain caused by spinal stenosis.

With spinal stenosis, when you bend backwards, it puts pressure on the nerves and causes pain. So the stretches you will be doing to relieve the pain with be bending the spine forward to open up the spaces where the nerves come out of the spine.

For the first exercise, lie down on your back with your knees propped up. You are going to do a simple knee to chest. 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.

The next stretch is a double knee to chest. Now you will bring both knees up towards you. Some people will grab up around the top of their knees, which is fine, but if you have knee issues, you might want to grab underneath your knees so you don’t put extra pressure on them. Again, you will hold these for 30 seconds and do them three times.

The last stretch is a child’s pose. 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.

Quadratus Lumborum (QL) Stretches

The Quadratus Lumborum (QL) is a deep lower back muscle that sits over the kidneys. It can be hard to stretch since it is underneath larger muscles. Here are some stretches for your QL.

For the first stretch, you are going to sit on the ground with your legs crossed or out in front of you at an angle. Take your arm of the opposite side you want to stretch, and place your hand underneath and push out and away. At the same time, take the arm of the side you want to stretch, and take it up and over your head to the other side. Hold this stretch for 30 seconds, and do it three times.

For the next stretch, you are going to lie down on your back. Prop your knees up, and then rotate your legs to the opposite you want to stretch. Then take the leg closest to the ground, and hook it over the other leg on the side you want to stretch to help pull your leg over and down. Try to keep your hips on the floor and not rotate your back when you stretch. Hold it for 30 seconds and repeat it three times.

For the last stretch, you want to roll over onto your side. This time the side you want to stretch will be on the ground. Put your legs on top of each other in a perpendicular position to the floor. Push up with your arms so your upper body is off the ground. Then roll your hips forward until you feel a stretch. Hold the stretch for 30 seconds and then repeat three times.

 

Upper Back Pain Stretches & Exercises

Here is another edition to my upper back pain stretching and strengthening exercises. I have a video for Ys, Ts, Is, and Ws on a swiss ball, but if you don't have a swiss ball, these will hopefully help.

The first stretch is for your thoracic area. Sitting in a chair that has a medium back height, put your hands behind your head, and lean back over the backrest of the chair. Relax if you can and hold it for 30 seconds; repeat 3 times.

Next, you want to stretch your pectoralis muscles. If you have a foam roll, this will work best for the stretch. Lie down on the foam roll where it is directly on your spine and your head is supported. Now rest your elbows on the floor out to the side. If that is not enough stretch, you can straighten your arms out and rest them on the floor. If that is still not enough stretch, place your hands behind your head, and press your elbows downward. Hold for 30 seconds and do them 3 times.  

Now roll onto your stomach. Roll up a towel and place it under your forehead for comfort. Now put your arms straight out to the sides like you are making a T with your body. Gently raise your arms towards the ceiling, and try to squeeze your shoulder blades together. Your arms don't have to go high, but they do need to be controlled. Hold them for about 2-3 seconds and do about 10-15.

Roll back onto your back for "snow angels." This exercise was shown to me from my PT friend Phil who helped me rehab from my shoulder surgery. Put your arms flat on the ground into a slight stop sign position or like you are getting ready to make a snow angel. You can bend your knees your put your legs out straight, but bending the knees will help support your back. Now slowly slide your arms upwards, and try to keep your elbow and arms flat on the ground. Once they start coming up, then slide them back down. You only need to do about 10 of these with 2 sets.

The next stretch is going to be in long sitting where your legs are straight out in front of you. Clasp your hands together directly in front of you, and punch forward while your are curling your back forward and bringing your chin to your chest. You want to have a curl in your back. Hold this for 30 seconds and do 3 times.

The last exercise is "bird dogs." This is done on all fours or in quadruped.  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 it straight forward. At the same time, lift the opposite leg straight out. Alternate your arms and legs, doing 5-10 on each side.

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