As social distancing and a general lack of activity continues, anyone that normally suffers from chronic lower back pain will most likely wind up feeling even worse than usual. Being confined at home will likely result in you assuming a seated position more than your accustomed- especially if your normal routine involves an active job or lifestyle. While being seated (which naturally tightens your hips anyway) you are also more than likely on a laptop, tablet or your phone- each of these devices puts you in an anatomical position where your shoulders are rounded. In addition to the tightness we are creating from inactivity, many are also suffering from extremely high levels of stress and anxiety due to the health crisis. When we’re stressed, our natural human reaction is to put our head in our hands. Again, resulting in hunched shoulders and furthering the thoracic tightness. A tight upper back combined with tight hips (hip flexors, adductors and glutes) will inevitably lead to lower back pain ranging from mild to severe.
How to Fight Lower Back Pain and Simultaneously Reduce Stress & Anxiety
A lot of people make the mistake of training the lower back directly (with exercises such as back extensions or cobras), thinking “my back hurts because it’s weak.” While that may be partially true, it is almost never the root of the issue, and shouldn’t be where you start.
The main problem is hip/glute and thoracic tightness.
Therefore, before anything else is focused on, MOBILIZING is the first key!
5 Minute Mobility Flow
The first several exercises are done in a quadruped position- meaning on your hands and knees. When you are in this basic position always be sure your shoulders are directly over top your hands. As well as your hips should be directly over top your knees. Be sure to keep your back flat and most of the time keep your neck relaxed (look towards the ground) unless the exercise calls for different.
When performing this series of stretches, I perform each for 20-30 seconds and transition from one exercise right to the next. This series one time through should take between 3-5 minutes. Since we’re in state where we’re working out at home exclusively, you can repeat this circuit for 3-5 rounds for a great “active rest day” workout.
Pigeons w/ T-Spine Ext.
Half Kneeling Adductor Stretch
Spider Stretch w/ Thoracic Flow ** (This is the absolute best stretch you’ll ever do- shout out to Head Sports Performance Coach at Washington College, Jonnie Jenkins, for teaching it to me when I was a student-athlete almost 10 years ago now!)
This entire mobility flow is something I’ve come up with and should be done in the exact order it’s been presented. It’s super easy to transition from one exercise right to the other, and if done on a consistent basis, you will begin to notice improvements in your back discomfort.
If you suffer from chronic back pain or you’re feeling generally stressed and full of anxiety, I highly encourage you to try this mobility routine- you’ll be amazed at how much better you feel afterwards!
Yours in Fitness and Health,
Your Final Reward Will Be Heartache and Tears, If You’ve Cheated the Guy in the Glass.