Self Care – Pain Along One Side of the Low Back

Self-Care includes
Activities to avoid and change,
Strategies for quick relief,
Stretching for longer-lasting relief,
Corrective Exercises, Yoga, and more…

Activities To Avoid or Change:

From Putneyclinic,co,uk

Avoid spending long periods with your hips flexed. This sleeping position, with the pillow between the legs, is great for relieving hip and low back pain that comes from the gluteal muscles but makes this pain along the low back worse. Driving, working at your desk, and other seated positions should be avoided for extended periods.

For temporary relief:

I know it hurts in the back, but if you use ice-and-stretch in the front, it often releases. Stroke the ice along the front of your abdomen from your ribs to below your belly-button. Then, stretch a bit by laying back on a bed or turning your chest toward the sky. This usually offers relief for this pattern. I’ve done this with many clients as a test and pre-treatment.

By the way, you can wear an IcyHot patch over the green asterisk when you sleep and will likely get better relief than putting it on your low back.

Stretches and exercises for longer-lasting relief:

Balancing your core can be tricky. Start with the gentle releases and work your way up.

Gentle Release

This Upward-Dog position is great for starting the release. She does a great job of lifting moderately without pressing the hips into the mat. Pressing hips into the mat can create pressure on the discs and sharp pain in the low back.

Rectus femoris often contributes to this problem and is not strongly stretched in this pose.

More specific and effective stretching

This kneeling stretch for hip flexors is a classic because it allows you to target the problem and gives you lots of control.

Some people have a problem with knee pain and use a pillow but the knee pain goes away once the hip flexor muscles, especially rectus femoris, opens up.

If your knee bothers you too much, bridges are a good choice. Do them using the guidelines from Active Isolated Stretching or ice-and-stretch.

Start out lifting just until you get tension. Hold each repetition for about 2 seconds and drop all the way back down. Do 10-20 twice a day or more. This will build the opposing muscles. Lift until you hips are arched above level.

These will be easier if you do 10 reps of the supine twist on each side before your bridges.

For the active body

Walking lunges are great for balancing psoas, erectors and abdominals.

If you have sharp pain at the base of your spine, don’t drop so low into the lunge and spread your feet from side to side. If you still get a sharp pain, go back to bridges or upward dog.

4 sets of 20 reps once or twice each day is a great pace. In between sets, do the supine twist on each side.

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Yoga Corner

Start with gentler poses like the upward dog shown above and progress to more advanced back bends to really open your abdomen and lengthen the psoas.

Back bends with a bent knee help to lengthen a short rectus femoris, which supports chronic hip flexors.

Other patterns that may better match your pain pattern…

There are trigger point patterns
that have similar areas of referral
and impaired activities.

There are many patterns in the low back and some other that are similar in how they make it feel stiff on one side. Look at this collection of posts on low back pain.

This site is undergoing changes. Starting in early 2020, we began changing the format of the posts to include more extensive self-care, illustrations, therapist notes, anatomy, and protocols. We’d love your feedback. We are adding posts and converting the old posts as quickly as time permits.

Weekly Featured Post

Pain relief that is
quicker and more effective
than traditional stretching.

This post covers the basics of Ice-and-Stretch, a toll that is used extensively in these posts combined with Active Isolated Stretching and Yoga poses.

Tony Preston has a practice in Atlanta, Georgia where he sees clients. He has written and taught about anatomy, trigger points and cranial therapies since the mid-90s.

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