Flexibility and strengthening exercises help to reduce the pain and disability of chronic nonspecific low back pain. Hoping to find a simple straightforward program to suggest to you, I reviewed “Exercise-based therapy for low back pain” at UpToDate.com.
Unfortunately, I didn’t find much.
By the way, exercises don’t help with acute low back pain (under 4 weeks duration).
You need to work with your personal physician for a diagnosis and treatment plan. I’m not your doctor. He may well refer you to a physical therapist, which is a good idea.
Some factoids from UpToDate:
- low back pain is the most common musculoskeletal disorder worldwide
- 85% of us experience low back pain at some point
- in the U.S., yearly total cost of low back pain exceeds $100 billion
Here’s a quote that may shock you:
For most patients with low back pain, a specific etiology [cause] cannot be established with certainty.
I bet your doctor, chiropractor, or massage therapist never told you that.
The UpToDate folks suggest a combination of core strengthening (especially abdominal and trunk extension), directional preference (e.g., McKenzie method), general physical fitness, flexion and extension movements, aerobics, and functional restoration programs. Some studies found benefit with Alexander technique, yoga, Pilates, and tai chi.
They didn’t mention Dr. John Sarno (“Your pain is from repressed anger”) or the Five Tibetan Rituals.
I hate to leave you empty-handed, so take this:
- Nicholas Institute of Sports Medicine and Athletic Trauma low back exercise program
- Trunk stabilization program of Duane Pitt, M.D., orthopedic spine surgeon (Scottsdale, Arizona), based on Robert Watkins IV, M.D.’s trunk stabilization program
- Mark Verstegen’s Core Performance (it helped me but is time consuming)
Again, if low back pain is a significant issue for you, it’s a good idea to work with a physical therapist.
What’s worked for you?
Bird dogs and lying hamstring stretches. Most valuable 5 mins of my daily workout.
Thanks, Yoni. I’ll look up bird dogs. I did those lying hamstring stretches back when I used to run marathons.