VIDEO: Non-Back Related Exercises for Back Pain

Clinical Expertise

Jun 28, 2021

Medical Reviewer: David Salinas, DPT, AIB-VR
Last Updated: June 2, 2021

Video Transcript

Hi, my name is David Salinas, and I’m a physical therapist with Brooks Rehabilitation. Today I’m gonna be talking about non-back related exercises that can help with your back.

Now I’m specifically going to be talking about the hips in the pelvis, because there’s an intimate relationship between the pelvis and the lumbar spine, the low back. If you have a forward rotation of that pelvis, you’re gonna see more curvature occurring in the lumbar spine than what’s normal. If you see backward rotation, you’re gonna end up with less curvature, so a straighter back than what’s normal.

Now either one of these positions can cause pain in the low back.

So you could see how, if there were tight muscles on either side of the pelvis or if there was a muscle imbalance, if one side was stronger than the other and was causing the pelvis to tilt forward or backwards, how this could lead to pain in the low back.

So what I’m gonna do is I’m gonna show you a couple of stretches and a couple of strengthening exercises you can try at home.

So the first exercise I’m gonna do is stretching the hamstrings. Now I have a stretch strap that we have at the clinic here, it’s real nice to use, it’s got a couple of different loops so you can use the best position for you, but you could also use a belt at home, you could use a towel, just something you can wrap around your foot. Now all you’re gonna do is lie down on your back with both knees bent, and then pull your leg straight up into the air until you feel a stretch in the back of the leg. Hold that stretch 30 seconds three times. And then you can switch and make sure you do the other side as well.

Now, along with the back of your leg and the hamstrings, sometimes your hip flexors right here in the front can get tight as well. So to stretch these muscles, you can lay on your bed and scoot to the very edge, and then just let your leg hang off the edge that you feel a stretch right in the front of your hip. We’re gonna hold this for 30 seconds three times as well, and then switch and do the other side making sure to keep both sides even. One other muscle that often gets tight especially when you have back pain is your piriformis, which is a muscle in the bottom. And this muscle actually can put pressure on the sciatic nerve if it’s too tight, also can cause some pain down the legs, so you wanna make sure that you try to keep this muscle loose especially if you’re having some of that pain down the legs. The way we’re gonna do this is by crossing your ankle over your opposite knee and then pulling that knee across the body. And you should feel the stretch more on the bottom. We’re gonna hold this 30 seconds three times, and just like the other exercises we’re gonna make sure we do both sides.

Now as far as strengthening, we’re gonna start off strengthening the glute max which is one of our hip extensors. We’re gonna do this by using an exercise called bridges. And for bridges, all we’re gonna do is tighten your bottom, lift up into the air, hold three seconds, and then come back down. You can start off trying two sets of 10 or three sets of 10 with this exercise, and then just adjust as you need to depending on the difficulty of the exercise.

Another strengthening exercise that’s gonna focus more on gluteus medius which helps bring your hip to the side is clamshells. The way we’re going to try and strengthen this muscle is by putting the knees on top of each other, your feet on top of each other, putting some bend in your knee and then lifting your leg up into the air and back down. And you should feel this specifically in the side of your hip. One thing you wanna be careful of with this exercise is people tend to rotate their entire back backwards. So you don’t wanna do that ’cause then you’re compensating using other muscles. Instead, try to put your hand on your hip to make sure you don’t rotate backwards, and then just lift that knee up into the air and back down. Both sides just like with everything else.

The last two exercises, they’re a little difficult to do without the proper machinery, but most gyms will have them available to you. Leg extensions and then hamstring curls, where you start with your knee straight and the pull backwards. So most gyms you can find this, if you’re unable to find this, there are things you can do. If you look them up online, you can find alternative ways to complete those hamstring curls and the extensions.

But these are just a couple of exercises that can help strengthen the muscles around those hip as well as loosen up the muscles to make sure everything is functioning properly and not causing the pelvis to tilt forward or backward putting more pressure on the spine.

Thank you very much.

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Medical Reviewer

David Salinas, DPT, AIB-VR

Physical Therapist
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