Spring is here and we’re all hoping to get back to so many activities we may have missed out on last year.  To ensure that you have the best Spring ever playing golf, tennis, running, gardening, vacationing and spending time with your family, it is important that you address that ache in your back, even if it’s “not that bad…yet”. 

Back pain progresses through phases: 1. Subtle and infrequent twinges. 2. Nagging aches and stiffness. 3. Constant, sharp and radiating. Unfortunately, back pain is so common that it is often passed off as a normal part of aging and people don’t listen to the warning signs.  Don’t accept common as normal!

If you’ve had back pain for more than a week, start to get relief by following a few simple and effective methods below.  Additional helpful videos and information can be found at www.BetterBackWithPT.com

Rest = Rust: We often hear people with back pain say “I think I’ll just rest it”. Bad move! Just resting your back is basically one level above doing nothing.  That’s when your back pain will progress phases. By just resting and not addressing the root cause, it’s likely more serious pain will follow and even some level of disability, possibly requiring pain medications, injections or even surgery. Address the problem early.  

Motion = Lotion: Pain can be due to segments of your spine being stuck.  Learning to move again the right way is important. The best way to start moving the spine again is with the Cat/Cow exercise.  On your hands and knees, focus on moving each segment of the spine up like a stretching cat while breathing out and then moving down like a sagging cow while breathing in.

Breathe Better For A Stronger Core: Poor breathing habits and a weak core are two common underlying causes of back pain.  The term “Strengthen your core”  is overused and misunderstood. You’re probably thinking “I’ve been breathing my whole life, how could it be wrong?” Or I do sit-ups, I have a strong core. Have you ever held your breath when doing something strenuous?  If yes then you’re breathing and core muscles are not working together.  I call the core muscles “cough muscles”.  These deep muscle groups need to work together to support your spine, help you move and of course breathe. If not, they can be the cause of back pain.   The best way to start strengthening those core, “AHEM”, cough muscles is with an exercise we call “Ocean Breathing”.  Think of how the waves sound as they come ashore and make that same sound as you breathe.  As the waves come in, breathe in through your nose and inflate your belly. Be careful not to lift the chest.  As the waves recede, make a long exhale through your open mouth until you can feel that deep muscle contraction in your core. 

Stretch AND Strengthen: For every tight muscle, there is another that is weak.  Most people tend to focus only on one which prolongs their problem and makes it harder to manage. Doing both a specific stretching as well as strengthening program will offer greater relief and fuller recovery.  

Help your back feel better. Visit www.BetterBackWithPT.com for more great videos and information. While there, you can also register for a complimentary assessment to ensure you are on the right path towards enjoying all of your activities.