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Take Control Of Lower Back Pain With These 3 Exercises

If you’ve been plagued by lower back pain and discomfort, you’re not alone. An astonishing 80 percent of adults experience lower back pain at some point in their lives. Not to mention, it is also the leading cause of job-related disability, and is cited as the number one reason for missed work time. For a condition that is so incredibly common, it seems that many people feel ill-equipped to manage their everyday symptoms.

Perhaps an overarching issue with managing back pain is that the discomfort makes complete rest tempting, when in fact the real gains come from incorporating the right exercises into your routine. Certain movements can help to strengthen the muscles around the back to better support your spine, and lower back in return. We’ve rounded up some of what we feel are the most effective and easily implemented exercises for lower back pain below. Let’s get started.


Bird-Dog Repeats

This exercise is great to counteract lower back pain because it helps with balance and stabilization– two things that protect your back and counteract weakness along with the pain associated with it.

To perform this exercise, start on your hands and knees and engage your core muscles. Lift and extend one leg directly behind you, holding for five seconds. Then, repeat this movement on the other leg. Continue to alternate legs and, when you are comfortable, start also extending the opposite arm at the same time as the leg. While you’re doing this exercise, be sure to keep your core engaged and your back flat. Be careful not to raise your limbs past a point where you can maintain control of your lower back positioning. Repeat this exercise 8 – 12 times within pain-free limits of motion.


Wall Sits

Grab a friend and try some wall sits! This exercise can be a really fun challenge, and it just happens to be a great tool to help combat lower back pain.

Lean back and flatten your back against a wall. Slowly slide down until your knees are partially bent, keeping your back against the wall and your core engaged. Hold this for about 10 seconds, then slide back up the wall for a break. When you’re ready for another repeat, slide back down and time yourself again. Repeat this 8-10 times.

This movement helps to strengthen both your core and your leg muscles, two systems that contribute to helping your spine and back stay protected and happy. This is a great exercise to keep in your routine even after back pain has passed.


Knee-To-Chest Movement

This one may sound simple, but it can pack so many benefits for your lower back! This light stretch can help coax some of the tight, spasming muscles around your back to unlock a bit. Trust us, that’s a very good thing!

Start by lying on your back with both knees bent. Engage your core, and try to flatten your back toward the ground. Keeping your back flat on the ground, bring one knee up toward your torso; reach out with your hands and give it a gentle pull toward your chest to deepen the stretch and hold for about five seconds. Slowly lower your leg back down, and repeat this with your other leg.

Note: if you’re one of many people who is particularly tight and having difficulty with flexibility, you may find it challenging to reach out and grab your knee as you lift it. In this case, simply use a towel for assistance. Wrap the towel around the base of your knee and use the ends to gently pull your leg closer without compromising your lower back form. This is a common yoga move to help people advance through movements that they may struggle with at first.


Movements To Avoid

Though movement is a good for your lower back, there are certainly exercises that can exacerbate existing pain. Always use pain and discomfort as an indicator when performing new activities, but also be aware some movements may be best to avoid all together. These include standing toe touches, leg lifts, and any movement that involves twisting of your back.


How Chiropractic Can Help Lower Back Pain

Regular chiropractic treatment is another great conservative care option for not only overall health, but also back pain. The gentle adjustments that your practitioner can apply during an appointment help to realign the spine and extremities for better overall function. These adjustments not only help your whole body feel better, but they can also fend off inflammation and even help support your immune system. This is especially important while your body is in the healing process. Not to mention, your practitioner can help you pinpoint which at-home exercises may suit your injury best.


By scheduling regular chiropractic care, you can help to keep your body and your immune system in tip-top shape. During the initial evaluation, we will go over your health history in detail and construct a plan that you are completely comfortable with before moving forward. Don’t neglect your health; schedule an appointment online.



This article is for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for in-person advice or care from a medical professional.

Is Degenerative Disc Disease Causing Your Lower Back Pain?

Degenerative disc disease (DDD) occurs when normal changes in spinal discs take place over time, causing you pain.

Think of spinal discs as shock absorbers in between the vertebrae of your spine which help it to stay flexible. As you age, the discs begin to break down. This process is a natural occurrence, but if your lower back pain won’t seem to go away, you might be suffering from DDD.

If any of the following patterns sound familiar, then you may want to visit a chiropractor for a spinal analysis:

  • More pain while sitting for a long time, lifting, twisting, or bending.
  • Less pain when walking or running
  • Less pain if you frequently change positions
  • Less pain if you lie down


What does it mean to have degenerative changes in the spine?

Just the name alone—degenerative disc disease—sounds scary. Is there cause for alarm and should you be concerned if you’ve received a DDD diagnosis?

Yes and no. When changes in the spine cause the loss of normal structure or function, it’s considered degenerative.  Your spine carries a huge portion of your body’s weight. Over time, the collagen (protein) in your spine weakens. Meanwhile, water and proteoglycan (PG) content also decreases, and thus the discs become unable to withstand daily mechanical stress. These changes are caused by regular use, but habits like smoking or an unhealthy diet may also be contributors. Fortunately, most patients who suffer from DDD respond well to non-surgical treatment.


Non-Surgical Degenerative Disc Disease Treatments

If you think you have or you’ve been diagnosed with DDD, bed rest may be helpful for a few days during the most painful phases. However, each patient is different and will have a unique treatment plan; after bed rest, your treatment plan may call for several different remedies including stretching, extension exercises, aerobics, acupuncture, medication, and chiropractic adjustments.

Stretching exercises

Lower back pain may limit flexibility, and following a prescribed set of stretching exercises can improve movement in the trunk muscles. Stretching exercises help to widen the intervertebral foramen, the small canals on the left and right sides of your spinal column through which the nerve roots exit the spinal cord.

Extension exercises

The McKenzie Method is an example of an extension exercise for the lower back muscles and ligaments. They help maintain proper spine curvature and reinforce healthy posture.


Aerobics

Amped-up muscular endurance, a better sense of coordination, stronger abdominal muscles and weight loss are just a few of the benefits of aerobic exercise.

Low or no-impact aerobic exercise like walking, biking, and swimming only put slightly more strain on your lower back than lying down while also strengthening your core. Stronger abdominal muscles help reduce the weight your lumbar spine is forced to hold up on its own.  As an added bonus, aerobic exercise helps keep anxiety and depression at bay for many patients.

Acupuncture

Although it should usually be combined with other treatments, acupuncture has been shown to jumpstart the production of endorphins, acetylcholine (an important neurotransmitter in the nervous system), and serotonin.

Medication

Especially during the intense initial phase of low back pain, medications may be prescribed. Acetaminophen, anti-inflammatory agents, and even muscle relaxants can be effective.

Because of the strong potential for addiction, narcotics and even anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDs) should only be used temporarily.

Depression can also contribute to low back pain, and there are non-drug ways to address that which may improve both mood and sleep.

We do not condone taking medications for pain, but we realize that people do. Our intent is to provide caution around doing so, and make sure people realize this is not a viable long-term solution.

If you experience an ongoing need for pain medicine we strongly urge you to come in and let us evaluate what is causing that pain. Whenever possible we want to treat and eliminate the underlying cause of pain, rather than mask it.

Chiropractic adjustments

Performed by chiropractors and physical therapists, adjustments can greatly improve DDD, making it much easier to twist, bend, and move around in daily life. Adjustments (also called manipulations) involve carefully placing pressure on spinal joints to relieve dysfunction and pain.

Your chiropractor may also perform different types of manual therapy to treat your DDD symptoms, including:

  • Manual joint stretching and resistance techniques to relieve pain and other DDD symptoms.
  • Therapeutic massage to help reduce muscle tension.
  • Trigger point therapy, which relieves tension by putting direct pressure on tight painful points in the muscle.
  • Instrument-assisted soft tissue therapy, reducing or eliminating pain by using various chiropractic instruments.


Living with Degenerative Disc Disease

If you’ve been diagnosed with lumbar degenerative disc disease, the good news is most patients respond well to non-surgical treatment.  If your pain is persistent and continues even after bed rest, consult with your chiropractor. Together, your chiropractor will work with you to develop a comprehensive treatment plan to address your acute lower back pain and reinforce a healthy lifestyle, including avoiding tobacco, maintaining a regular fitness program plus dietary adjustments.



This article isn’t a substitute for medical advice. If lower back pain has been an issue for you, you don’t have to keep suffering. Make an appointment online and let’s get to the root of your back pain as well as create a treatment plan just for you.

4 Easy Ways To Manage Sciatica Throughout the Day

Do you have consistent leg or back pain that you might describe as burning, tingling, or even sharp? Sciatica could be to blame.

Sciatica pain starts in the lower back, moves through the buttocks and into the large sciatic nerve in the back of each leg. Because it often gets worse when you sit down, managing your sciatica pain throughout the day might feel like a full-time job of its own.

How can you make your daily routine significantly more comfortable and pain-free? Here are four simple tips to get you started.

1. Optimize your Workspace

Sitting for long periods of time has become the norm for many of us. Unfortunately, when you’re trying to manage sciatica, even sitting can feel incredibly painful.

For sciatica patients, sitting down can feel significantly more comfortable with a well-designed chair and well-thought-out workspace. If possible, invest in a supportive ergonomic chair to provide support, and add in additional low back support by placing a lumbar pillow (or a rolled-up towel in a pinch) at the base of your chair. If your chair has wheels, you can easily roll yourself closer to your desk to avoid twisting and turning your body and potentially aggravating your sciatic nerve.

When using a computer, place the monitor in front of you at eye level and keep the keyboard and mouse nearby to minimize reaching. Keep in mind the way you sit also matters. Avoid crossing your legs, and keep your hips and knees bent at a 45-degree angle.

Whenever possible, stand up every 20 minutes and take a few laps around your office or workspace. When moving from sitting to standing, don’t bend at the waist to get up from your chair as this can stretch and irritate your sciatic nerve. Instead, simply slide to the front of your seat and straighten your legs until you’re standing.

Depending on your office environment, you might also consider investing in a sit-to-stand desk. It lets you adjust your desk’s height so you can easily transition from sitting to standing.

2. Go for a Walk

Walking can provide relief from sciatic pain by kickstarting the release of endorphins into your system and reducing the inflammation around your sciatic nerve roots.

Walk at a brisk pace for about 30 minutes, three to four times a week. When you’re walking, be sure to stand up straight to engage the muscles in both your core and lower back. To avoid burnout or injury, begin with short 5-minute walks and slowly build up your endurance.

If you’re in too much pain for a walk, consider going for a gentle swim in a warm pool instead. You’ll enjoy many of the same benefits with even less strain on your lower back.

3. Embrace the Mind/Body Connection

With so much focus on physical symptoms, it’s easy to overlook how powerful your mind can be in managing pain symptoms. When the mind focuses on something else, many patients can experience quick relief from their symptoms.

Mental imagery, meditation, and other relaxation techniques can decrease your pain levels and don’t require a lot of time– strive for 10 minutes each day, or 30 minutes three times a week.

2-3 minutes of controlled breathing in a quiet room is another option. And best of all, you can do this just about anywhere, even at the office!

4. Invest in a Good Mattress

Your body needs rest. A soft, unsupportive mattress forces your muscles to engage, even when you’re sleeping. If you’re not sleeping well or your muscles are unable to relax properly each night, you’ll eventually experience muscle fatigue and exhaustion. Invest in a quality mattress; look for a mattress with firm support, to ease the tension on your spine. You’ll sleep better and your body will get the down time it needs.

When To See A Doctor For Sciatica Pain

While there are many lifestyle changes you can make to your home and work environments to manage your sciatica pain, professional medical treatment is recommended. Chiropractic care zeroes in on the cause of your pain, provides immediate relief, and manages your ongoing care by implementing a customized treatment plan.

Although every patient is different, the cornerstone of chiropractic treatment for sciatica is usually a chiropractic adjustment. Gentle pressure is placed on the painful areas to help reduce nerve irritability and bring back your range of motion. Stretching techniques may also be used on your sore muscles and joints so they’ll feel better right away.

An important part of managed care is getting to know the patient and set goals for the future. With a holistic, customized treatment plan that includes therapeutic treatment, maintenance care, exercise, and activity modification, your pain can be banished for good.




The information in this article can provide some serious relief, but it’s for informational purposes only. There’s no substitute for a professional consultation about your symptoms. Schedule an appointment online.

10 Piriformis Stretches To Get Rid Of Sciatica, Hip, And Lower Back Pain

There’s a tiny muscle you’ve probably never heard of that has a powerful effect on your daily movements, and can even be linked to sciatica. It’s called the piriformis and it enables you to move your hips, upper legs, and feet away from your body. The piriformis also covers the sciatic nerve that runs from your lower back and down towards your legs.

When the sciatic nerve becomes pinched, it results in the very painful condition called “sciatica.”

The strains of daily life can place even more pressure on the sciatic nerve, causing numbness, tingling and even acute pain that can last from minutes to hours. This pain usually runs from the lower back toward the hip, buttocks, and legs. Before you realize it, sitting or changing positions becomes very difficult.

Luckily, there are several simple and effective ways to stretch out that tiny piriformis muscle and provide relief from your sciatica pain. Give these 10 powerful piriformis stretches a try— and be sure to watch the videos, too.

1. Simple Seated Stret

  1. Start by sitting in a chair and cross your sore leg over the knee of your other leg.
  2. While keeping your spine straight, bend your chest forward. If you don’t feel pain, bend forward a little more.
  3. Hold this position for about 30 seconds.
  4. Repeat this stretch with your other leg.


2. Standing Piriformis Stretch

If you have trouble balancing with this stretch, stand with your back against a wall and your feet about 24 inches from the wall for extra support.

  1. While standing, place the leg that’s causing you pain over the knee of your other leg. It should create the shape of the number 4.
  2. Lower your hips at a 45-degree angle until they reach the ground. Bend the leg you’re standing on as needed.
  3. As you bend forward at the waist, reach your arms down to the ground while keeping your spine straight.
  4. Hold for 30-60 seconds.
  5. Switch legs when done.


3. Supine Piriformis Stretch

  1. Lie down and bend your knees upwards.
  2. Cross the affected leg over your other leg and bend it upwards toward your chest.
  3. Grab your knee with one hand and your ankle in your other hand. Pull the bent leg across your body until your glutes are pulled tight.
  4. Hold for 30 seconds to a minute and release.


4. Outer Hip Piriformis Stretch

  1. Lying on your back, bend your sore leg upward and place your foot close to the back of your other knee.
  2. Tuck your foot behind that knee and twist your leg to the opposite side. Your knee should be touching the ground (or as close as you can get).
  3. Place the hand on your opposite knee and raise your opposite arm in the air.
  4. Hold for 20 seconds.
  5. Switch to the other leg.

You’ll want to recover from this stretch! Lie on your back, bend both knees together and gently pull them with your hands toward your chest.


5. Groin/Long Adductor Stretch

  1. Sitting on the floor, stretch your legs straight out in front of you, spread as far apart as possible.
  2. Place your hands on the floor next to each other while angling your torso forward toward the ground.
  3. Lean forward and rest your elbows on the ground. If you encounter pain, stop right away!
  4. Remain in the position for 10-20 seconds.


6. Inner Thigh/Short Adductor Stretch

  1. While sitting on the ground, put the soles of your feet together in front of your pelvis.
  2. Hold your ankles with the opposite hands (left hand – right ankle and vice versa).
  3. Gently push downward with your knees with the effort to touch the ground with them. You need to stop right before any pain occurs, which means that if you feel pain, get back an inch or two and stay there.
  4. Hold for 30 seconds, release, and flutter your legs in that position (like a butterfly) for 30 seconds.

Want an even deeper stretch? Push your knees down with your elbows or bend your torso forward while keeping your back straight.


7. Side Lying Clam

  1. Lie down on the side of your body that isn’t in pain.
  2. Bend your legs back, holding one foot over the other and keeping your legs parallel to each other. You should be creating an “L” shape.
  3. Keeping your feet together, lift up the top knee while keeping the rest of your body in the original position.
  4. Slowly bring your knee to the initial position.
  5. Repeat 15 times.


8. Hip Extension

  1. Get down on the ground on all fours, making sure your hands are in line with your shoulders.
  2. Raise your affected leg upward with your knee bent toward the ceiling.
  3. Gradually lower your leg until it’s almost touching the ground.
  4. Repeat 15 times.


9. Supine Piriformis Side Stretch

  1. Lie on the ground with your legs flat and back straight.
  2. Bend your sore leg upward, resting the foot on the outer side of the opposite leg beside the knee.
  3. Ease the knee of your affected leg across the middle of your body with your opposite hand until you feel a stretch, making sure to keep both your shoulders and hips on the ground.
  4. Hold for 30 seconds, return to the starting position and switch legs.
  5. Repeat the process 2-3 times.


10. Buttocks Stretch for the Piriformis Muscle

  1. Place your hands and knees on the ground, getting into position on all fours.
  2. Bring the foot of your affected leg underneath your stomach, twisting it toward the opposite side near the hip, while pointing with the knee toward the shoulder.
  3. Lower your head, until your forehead touches the ground, and lean your forearms on the ground for support.
  4. Slowly stretch the non-affected leg out behind you, while keeping your pelvis straight.
  5. Push your hips slightly toward the floor.
  6. Hold for 30 seconds and return to the initial position slowly. Repeat 2-3 times.


Note that home remedies are helpful in mitigating pain but do not address the root cause. A full chiropractic examination identifies the source of your pain, provides treatment to relieve the symptoms, and establishes a customized treatment plan to ensure you’ll keep the pain at bay, for good. Make an appointment online with us today.


This content isn’t meant to diagnose or treat your medical condition and is not a substitute for in-person medical advice.

Can Leg or Back Pain Actually Be Sciatica?

If you’ve been experiencing consistent leg or back pain (or perhaps you’d describe it as a burning or tingling sensation), sciatica might be the culprit.

Sciatica is a term that describes the symptoms of leg pain that starts in the lower back, moves through the buttocks and into the large sciatic nerve in the back of each leg.

Sciatica also often includes:

  • Consistent pain in one side of the buttock or leg that worsens when you sit down.
  • Weakness or numbness that makes it difficult to move your leg, foot, or toes.
  • Sharp pain that makes it difficult to walk or stand.
  • Pain that travels down just one leg and into the foot and toes.

Two very common types of pain that trace back to sciatica are piriformis syndrome and a herniated disc/bulging disc.

Piriformis Syndrome

The piriformis muscle connects the lower spine to the thigh and makes hip rotation possible. Piriformis syndrome develops when muscle spasms crop up in the piriformis muscle and compress the sciatic nerve that’s located underneath.

If you are experiencing pain in the hip, the center of the buttocks, or down the back of the leg, you may be suffering from piriformis syndrome.

A Herniated Disc/Bulging Disc

With a bulging disc, the gel-like center protrudes but stays within the outer wall of the disc. A herniated disc, on the other hand, occurs when the gel-like center breaks through the disc.

Whether a disc is bulging or herniating, disc material presses against a nearby nerve root, pushing down on nerve tissue and causing sciatica. In either case, nerve compression and irritation results in both inflammation and pain, causing numbness, tingling, and muscle weakness.

This pain can occur anywhere on the spine but usually affects the lower back.


Think you might have sciatica? Here’s what to do next.

Home Care Treatment

The hamstrings are a group of three muscles in the back of the thigh that help bend the knee and extend the hip; stretching your hamstrings may help ease your lower back pain. Unfortunately most of our daily activities don’t involve the hamstrings, so stretching exercises keeps them healthy.

Secrets behind powerful hamstring stretches:

  • When you can, warm up before stretching with a 10-minute walk will help get your blood pumping.
  • Ease into the stretch gently and hold it for about 10 seconds, twice per day. Over time, you can increase to 30 seconds or more each time.
  • Remember to breathe!


Hamstring Stretches While Lying on Your Back

If you’re experiencing low back pain or leg pain, you might benefit from hamstring stretching exercises done while lying on the back, which is least stressful on the rest of your body.

Use A Towel:

  • Lie on your back, supporting your thigh with your hand or with a towel wrapped around it.
  • Slowly straighten your knee until a stretch is felt in the back of the thigh. The ultimate goal is for the bottom of your foot to face the ceiling.
  • Hold the position initially for 10 seconds, and gradually work up to 20 to 30 seconds, stretching one leg at a time.

Use A Wall:

  • Lie back on the floor with your buttocks against a wall at a corner or by a door jamb.
  • Keeping one leg on the floor, place your foot off your alternate leg against the wall and try to gently push your knee straight so the raised leg and the leg on the floor make a 90-degree angle.
  • Hold the position for 10 to 20 seconds.


Hamstring Stretches While Sitting

Hamstring stretches from a seated position can be varied based on the placement of your leg.

Seated Hamstring Stretch

  • Sitting at the edge of a chair, straighten one leg in front of you, with your heel on the floor.
  • Sit up straight and push your navel towards your thigh, but don’t lean the rest of your body forward.
  • Hold this stretch for 30 seconds, repeat 3 times for each leg.

Give each exercise a try and decide which one feels best for you.


Chiropractic Treatment

If you’re not experiencing pain relief from the home care exercises, or if your symptoms are prolonged or recurring, it may be time to schedule a full chiropractic exam. A chiropractor will identify the cause of your pain, provide immediate relief, and develop a treatment plan that fits your specific needs.

Treatment for pain relief often includes a chiropractic adjustment, applying gentle pressure on the painful areas to help reduce nerve irritability and restore your range of motion. Mobilization techniques may also be used, which stretch your sore muscles and joints so they’ll feel better right away.

Beyond immediate relief, a key component of any successful treatment plan involves getting to know the patient and set goals for the future. A holistic treatment plan that includes therapeutic treatment, maintenance care, exercise, and activity modification can help get rid of your pain for good.

This article isn’t intended to provide diagnosis or treatment – there’s no substitute for professional consultation about your specific symptoms. You shouldn’t have to endure leg or back pain –  contact us to schedule an appointment online.