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4 Ways to Combat Lower Back Pain

(Episode Transcribed Directly from Video)

Hey guys, Coach Mike here at MROC with Episode 10 of MOB of the Week. Today's episode is all about low back pain. 

Now, we've probably all suffered from some level of low back pain at some point in time and maybe you're dealing with that right now. Typically, this is gonna happen for one of two reasons; perhaps you find yourself sedentary, sitting in a poor position over extended periods of time or maybe you found yourself in a compromised position under load or during an intense activity exercising or doing a race. Either way, we're going to give you some tools today to address those two issues specifically.

Now, when dealing with any mobility system we want to remember one of the key rules that we talked about in Episode 1 which is “continue to work upstream and downstream”. So, although you may be experiencing low back pain today, it doesn't necessarily mean that you're dealing with an injury in the lower back area. It could be issues in the mid to upper back or it could be issues in the lower extremities. So, I will urge you to go back and watch the last three episodes we recorded on spinal gapping and thoracic spine mobility to work upstream and then continue watching this series in the following weeks to learn how to open up the hips and treat the glutes and hamstrings because those could be the culprit as well. But for today, I've got four techniques for you let's get right down to it. 

The first two techniques we're going to show you deal with sitting in a bad position for extended periods of time. So typically, what's gonna happen is your pelvis or your SI-joint is just gonna get out of alignment, so let me show you techniques on how to correct it starting with adjusting the pelvis. So, what we're gonna do is we're gonna lay down on our back and we're gonna create a push-pull with the legs. So, I'm gonna put my right hand behind my right hamstring and I'm going to pull my leg in as I push my leg out so I got a push pull force, I'm going to put my left hand in front of my left knee, I'm gonna drive my knee towards me as I try to push it away, alright? So, what we're doing is I've got a push and pull shearing opposing forces, alright? Again, whatever my arm is doing, my leg is doing the opposite, so I'm pushing my leg south and I'm pulling it north and I'm trying to push my knee away from me as I pull my knees towards me, alright? So, push-pull forces. 

What we're gonna do is we're gonna do about three to five seconds - I have to say about five seconds - and do about three to five sets of that, okay, and then relax about five seconds. You're gonna repeat that a few times and then once you've done that for a few cycles, we're gonna go ahead and put a medicine ball between the knees and squeeze and hold for three to five seconds and do that for another three to five sets. That looks like this. Taking your medicine ball, putting it up between the knees and then squeezing, it’s contracting those abductors as hard as you can, hold it for about five seconds and then relax. And then squeeze, and then relax. And if you go through this entire cycle, meaning we're doing our push-pull shearing forces about five seconds each for three to five sets, maybe more if that's necessary and then switching to our contraction for three to five seconds about three to five sets, you may notice a pop or a clunk in your pelvis and your hips and that means you've reset things back into alignment. So, that's the first technique for today - resetting the pelvis. 

The second technique deals with re-aligning the SI-joint which is in the lower back. So, what we're gonna do is we're going to lay back and we're gonna pick a side and we're gonna drop it into a free hang, so you need to find a surface that's high enough that you can let your leg hang to the side and you can actually let gravity work towards your benefit. Now, this bench as short as I am, might even not be quite high enough for me but for demonstration purposes, you'll get the idea. If you have a massage or chiropractic table or even just a high bed, that actually might work even better for you. But what I'm gonna do is I'm gonna lay down all the way on my bench, drop one side down and pull the other knee into my chest, okay? So, just like we had shearing forces on the ground for the previous demonstration, I will be pulling this side of my hips up to bring that SI-joint up and I'm allowing gravity to pull the weight of my leg down to get those opposing forces. Now, this is one because there's no added weight, there's no added force, there's no banded distraction, you actually need to hold this for about a minute in order for and you have to focus on relaxing and letting your body let go. Give into the stretch, hold it for about a minute per and then go ahead to switch sides. Those last two techniques are great if it's just a matter of alignment, you have to reset some things, however, if you actually did some deep soft tissue damage and things are starting to get matted up and knotted down, you need to get in there with the mobility tool and do some work. 

So, our next two techniques, one is going to be with the foam roller and one is gonna be with the lacrosse ball. Now, first one is gonna be very similar to what we talked about in Episode 8, the T-spine smash except this is gonna be lower back smash with a foam roller. So, what I'm gonna do is I'm actually gonna start right above the butt, okay, right above your waistline and I'm gonna drop down to the side of my spine notice my hips are tilted at an angle, I'm not directly on my spine but I’m to the side of it and I'm gonna brace down, ribs locked-in in a parallel position above my hips, I'm gonna pick my hips up - if you need to brace yourself on your arm, that's okay - but we're going to go up and down and do a little smashing, alright, a little pressure wave - if you go back to some of our first episode you'll know what that means - and we're just working from the ribs back to the hips and back down. And again, if you need to put your arm down for some support, you have to let your butt down that's fine, what we don't want to happen is you don't want to break in the extension, okay? It's not the same as the breaking and extension techniques we did for the thoracic spine, I want to keep engaged because I want to protect the lower back but I want those to create a broad surface where I can work the tissue in the lower back area. So, we're gonna work up and down and then both sides of the lower back, alright? 

And our fourth and final technique introduces us to the lacrosse ball. Don't have one of these in your mobility bag, go get one, right? This is a great tool and it's easy travel size to go ahead and work out knotting the body. Now, the last technique we just did we did a pressure wave, we did north to south, up and down, going along the muscle fibers and grains of the muscles in the back, this time we're gonna smash side to side, so it's kind of like what we learned in Episode 9 of T-spine mobility. We're going to stay in the same area, we just work from the ribs down to the hips and when we do this one we still need to protect the lumbar, so we're gonna keep the midline engaged but I'm gonna go ahead to put my legs up on the box, okay? And what this is gonna do it's going to allow me to put more pressure down on my lacrosse ball, it's gonna help me keep a good stacked position so that I don't make the problem any worse. So, I'm just gonna tilt over and position this ball right here, anywhere in this area is fine and the goal is to work this angle, so I'm in this position and I can just go over and side to side and look for those knotted matted down areas, if I find something really gnarly, just spend some time relaxing into that space, remember to keep the core engaged which will go ahead and create more space across the back for you to work on. Again, very intense with the lacrosse ball, okay, so this movement isn't gonna be for everybody but it's definitely a great move to get into and check out and maybe just do some recon and find out if you do have something going on down there that needs to be worked out, you may surprise yourself what kind of garbage you got going on in your lower back.

So, there you guys have it, four different tools that you can use to help fix low back pain. Now, with anything that you're doing, if it's so painful that you can't even get up and down, maybe you want to consult a doctor, you might have some serious nerve damage going on, you may have compromised something in your lower back. But when we're dealing with resetting some joints or working out some tissue damage or adhesions in the back, you've got your lacrosse ball, you've got your foam roller, you've got your SI-joint and your pelvic correction stretches and just remember, go back review the thoracic spine mobility piece, continue to watch this series and see what we're doing for the hips and the bigger muscles of the lower body and we'll get that lower back fixed for you. 

Until then I want you to keep training hard, go out there do a race, get dirty, I'll see you on the starting line. Aroo! 

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