Lumbar instability is a product of poor core musculature activation. Symptoms include pain and difficulty performing functional, or even simple recreational activities. James Fenton, DPT, understands the frustration for patients that comes with constant nagging pain, and notes that it’s becoming especially prevalent with decreased movements and poor posture while many of us remain isolated at home. In the video above, he demonstrates basic lumbar stretches you can do at home to relieve your symptoms and improve your movement.
We also sat down with James for a quick Q&A to answer some frequently asked questions submitted by viewers and also general questions to help those suffering from low back pain.
Should patients exercise when they are experiencing lower back pain?
No. If any exercise reproduces your symptoms, the recommendation is to stop and rest. If pain does not subside or continues to increase over time then it’s important to consult with a licensed professional immediately.
What are the most effective treatments for lumbar instability?
Simply put, physical therapy. A combination of therapeutic exercises and activities, postural re-education, pain relieving modalities, soft tissue mobilization, and most importantly, patient education will produce the most effective and lasting outcome for anyone having problems with low back pain.
Are squats good for strengthening the lower back? How so?
A properly performed squat is an excellent exercise for strengthening of the lower extremity musculature, as well as the muscles through our core. However, a properly performed squat may be challenging to accomplish if there are underlying issues. Again we encourage that individuals experiencing pain reach out to a therapist who can evaluate your symptoms and recommend the proper plan of action.
How can patients know if they are making gains if they don’t feel pain?
“No pain, no gain” is not always true. Anyone who has ever exercised in a meaningful way is familiar with the soreness that follows it. This is a sign that you’re making the gains you’re likely looking for in your workout regimen. However, the pain we need to avoid is the noxious, troublesome pain that comes and is provoked by our day-to-day activity. This is the pain that we can treat. Better said… “No(xious) pain, no gain!”
What are some recommended stretches without an exercise ball?
An exercise ball is a great tool. It’s something that can be used to achieve any number of fitness goals. Stretching can be done with or without an exercise ball. Towards the end of the video, I showed our viewers two different stretches that did not require an exercise ball; one for the hamstring, and the other for the piriformis, a small muscle located deep in the buttocks, behind the gluteus maximus.
In your experience, is there one exercise or stretch that is most effective to strengthen your lumbar? For example, does walking help?
There is no one exercise that will help everyone. A detailed history and examination performed by a licensed physical therapist will produce a tailored routine that will target and activate the muscles needed to produce the desired outcome. Walking, and even swimming, are two basic activities that may help in gaining strength and stability through core, postural musculature; however, always remember that no(xious) pain, no gain is not true. If these activities are causing you pain, then your best bet is to consult with a licensed physical therapist.
If a stretching strap is not available, what tools and resources can be used as a substitute for leg / hamstring stretches?
A belt, bed sheet, or towel can be used in place of the stretching strap shown in the video. Anything that is rigid and will not stretch and break can be used for a proper hamstring stretch. The stretch strap used in the video is an excellent tool that can be used for a variety of things. Feel free to check out our Therapy Essentials marketplace if you’re interested in purchasing one. These are professional grade products, delivered straight to your home that can be used long after you have been discharged from therapy — it truly is a long-term investment in your overall health and wellness!
Thank you for reading! You can watch James’ full session above or on our YouTube Channel.
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