The Best Exercise Ever for Lower Back Pain (January 27, 2015)
Here is a very simple and easy-to-do exercise. It’s really not even an exercise, it’s more like a position that you get into and then relax. It is almost certain to give you some relief from lower back pain. I can honestly say I don't know anyone it hasn't worked for to some degree.
It will not fix your back problem all by itself, although it would be worth adding to any exercise routine. But you can count on it to give you some help if you are having an episode of back pain and that is no small thing.
This is taken from what is sadly a little-known exercise system. I have been a chiropractic physician for 25+ years and have seen all kinds of weirdo new age practices come and go. Of them all, this one (modestly named The Egoscue Method by its inventor Pete Egoscue) is far and away the best.
What makes these exercises different is that they were designed to target an aspect of the nervous system that was almost completely ignored in therapy until recently, the proprioceptive system. Those are the nerves that position you and tell your body where it’s located in space. It decides precisely where to place and move your feet when you are running or walking, how to line up your arm, shoulder and wrist when you need to reach for something overhead, etc., etc. This may sound a little esoteric and irrelevant to you, but how your joints move in relation to each other and to the environment has everything to do with how much force is exerted on them and precisely where in the joint that force is located. So when proprioception is dysfunctional you get arthritis, unexpected injuries (especially the same injury over and over) and pain that occurs for no reason that you can find.
The exercises require no sweat and little effort, and it is amazing how effective they can be.
Anyway, this particular exercise is called Static Back. It is done lying on the floor. You find a chair, ottoman, couch or something that will support your lower legs if you are lying on the floor with said legs flexed 90 degrees at the hip and 90 degrees at the knee (like if you were sitting on a chair with the back flat on the floor). Then that’s what you do -- lie down with your back on the floor and thighs sticking up at a 90 degree angle, bending your legs at the knee so that they are supported by the aforementioned piece of furniture. Put your arms on the floor at about 45 degrees out from your sides, let your head rest on the floor, and allow your back to flatten EVENLY against the floor. Breathe consciously – not necessarily deeply, but definitely from the belly and diaphragm rather than the chest. You lie there for 5 to 15 minutes. Then you get up and walk around a bit. If your lower back does not feel at least a little better after doing this, I want to hear about it.
Here's a link to a video of the exercise. There are pictures and additional advice and instructions all over the Web as well if you want them:
Of all Pete Egoscue’s books, I particularly recommend “Pain Free”. It discusses his philosophy a bit but mainly it gives you very workable sets of exercises for pain in different areas of the musculoskeletal system.
Is Static Back the Solution to lower back pain? You bet it isn’t. It will give you some relief, for anywhere from a few minutes to a few days, depending on how messed up you are. But it’s a very, very effective emergency measure and I highly recommend it.
Hope this helps!
--dr. diane holmes
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