Back Pain When Standing: What She Did To Stop It.

“You know, my back really starts to hurt when I stand for any length of time. When I am trying to do the dishes it gets so bad that I just have to find someplace to sit down. Once I am sitting my back pain goes a way and I can do a few more dishes at that point”.

This is what a friend of mine would tell me when I would visit her from time to time. In the past she had had bad knees for some time. They were so bad that it really affected the way that she walked and she actually started looking older than she was.

Well, finally she decided to have a surgery to correct her knee problem after about 1-2 years. I went to visit her once she got home from the hospital and she was raving about how much better her knees felt.

But, she told me that her back had started to hurt more and more when she tried to do anything like dishes or vacuuming or something that kept her standing for longer than 15 minutes or so.

She said “When I stand up for any length of time, my back gets sore and it just feels like I can’t stand up anylonger and I just have to sit down”.

I believed her when she said this because when you looked at her from the side it looked like she was stooping over to pick something up off the ground. She wasn’t able to straighten her knees all the way and she was bent forward at the hips.

What she was running into was extremely tight muscles on the front of the hips and the back of the knees. I told her what she needed to do was stretch out her muscles so that it wouldn’t be such a struggle to stand up straight.

We both put our heads together and came up with a plan for her. Since she didn’t have any heart problems I suggested that she lay face down on her bed for several minutes 3-4 times a day.

But, when she first tried to do this she found out that she couldn’t lay down flat. It really hurt her back when she tried to straighten out. So, I made another suggestion: “Lay on a pillow lengthwise from chin to navel and see how that feels”

“Hey, that doesn’t hurt anymore. I can do this” she responded.

While she was laying on the pillow I told her to lift one leg and then the other, keeping the knee straight when she lifted it. She didn’t have to lift them high, though. But, just enough so that the thigh came off the bed.

She did 10 or so reps with either leg and she did it 3 times during the day with the instruction to stop doing these if they caused any more pain or an increase in any negative symptoms.

After about a week I went back to see how she was doing.

“Hey! How are you doing?” she asked. “You know what I did this past weekend? I walked down the street to a birthday party. I never thought that I would be able to do that. And, my knee nor my back gave me any problems!”

I told her that was “Fantastic!” and asked, “So, what happened?”

“I kept doing those exercises you told me to do. And…I don’t even need that pillow anymore. I can lay on the bed flat and it doesn’t even hurt my back anymore. I guess I’m going to have to keep doing them and see what else happens”.

Back Pain In Standing

Do Guys Need To Stretch More Than Women?

Stretching Elelphant © by David W. Siu

I may be going out on a limb, but what I am going to say comes from years of observation. “Guys, you need stretch more”.

I think that subconsciously us men know that part of the problem with out backs is that we just aren’t as flexible as we used to be. Taking on more responsibility with work and family does limit the time we used to spend playing or participating in our favorite sport (mine was basketball). And, sometimes it’s not time. It’s just not having enough guys to get a ball game going.

But, there are alternatives that may not be as time. For instance, I read an article in the Washington Post about a guy named Alvaro Maldonado who offers a stretching and postural alignment class specifically for men.

Maldonado is a fitness trainer and former professional dancer, who has put together a program to help reverse the effects of “the office chair” (what better place than D.C., right?) which helps treat and prevent a lot of cases of back pain, I’m sure.

Here’s one journalist’s assesment:

There were four of us in Fit’s tiny gym for Maldonado’s class that night: two younger guys who were pretty limber and another older guy in roughly the same shape as I. We rolled out yoga mats and took off our shoes, and Maldonado began to take us through a rigorous neck-to-toe stretching regimen.

Until you try this, you don’t realize how many muscles and joints you neglect and abuse in daily life. The simple act of slowly rotating my foot at the ankle, first clockwise then counter-clockwise, felt new and invigorating. When we got to the hip flexors, lower back and glutes, it became clear that my office chair, ergonomically correct as it may be, is simply the enemy. All those muscles have become weak and tight from disuse, from hour upon hour of sitting, often with poor posture. Soon I was sweating and straining to hold the poses Maldonado demonstrated. And yet it felt good at the same time.

You may not be able to find something this specific, but, there may be a “modified yoga” class near you. Consistent participation in a gentle stretching program will solve a lot of problems and has even prevented the need for surgeries in some. You never know until you investigate.

Read the rest of the article

Stretches For Sciatica:Piriformis Stretch

This article teaches you how to do a simple piriformis stretch. This is one of the best stretches for sciatica that will give you good back support.

Piriformis Syndrome And Stretches For Sciatica

One of the best stretches for sciatica is one that targets the piriformis muscle. This is because one of the biggest (but not the only) causes of sciatica symptoms is a condition called “Piriformis Syndrome”.

This condition can give you sciatica type symptoms when your piriformis muscle gets too tight. This is because the sciatic nerve runs through the muscle and the tight muscle compresses the nerve and irritates it. This nerve irritation is what gives you all those symptoms like pain, numbness/tingling, etc.

This particular muscle is located in the buttock. It stretches from the out side of the top of the thigh bone over to the outside border of your sacrum, or tailbone. So the best way to stretch it is to stretch the hip. Read more about it here.

In the photo I am demonstrating the best way to stretch the muscle if you are in extreme pain and/or if you need extra support for your back because of a surgery/injury/what have you.

You can do this particular stretch on the bed or other firm surface if you can’t get to the floor easily.

Stretches For Sciatica: How To Do A Piriformis Stretch

1. Lying on a flat surface, place the foot of the less painful side against the wall.

2. Cross the ankle of the most painful side over the opposite knee.

3. Hold position and relax totally. Breathe fully and normally.

4. Evaluate the tension on the painful side. You should be feeling a stretch in the backside of the hip. With the proper amount of tension, you should be able to relax and not tense up due to pain. If there is too much discomfort, move away from the wall an inch or two and repeat.

5. Hold this position for 30-60 seconds or 5 in/out normal breaths.

6. Repeat with the other side.

The rule of thumb with any stretches for sciatica or exercises for sciatica is that they should not make you feel worse. There may be some discomfort while you’re doing them. But this should leave once you stop the stretch.

If any stretches for sciatica make you feel worse, you’re either being a little too aggressive with the stretch, not in the right position, or, that particular stretch may not be what your body is needing at the time.

Stretches For Sciatica: Routine. Consistent. Long Haul.

Oh, another thing…stretching should be done consistently and routinely for the long haul. While you may feel a lot better after a couple of weeks, don’t stop stretching. There is a reason that your muscles are tight. If you stop stretching, chances are they will just tighten up again. Keep doing stretches for sciatica.

Back Pain Stretches: The Psoas Stretch

Stretching: A Good Low Back Pain Exercise

This post on lower back stretches is about stretching the psoas muscle. The psoas (pronounced so-as) is a very important muscle when it comes to having a healthy back. Targeting it for low back pain exercise is important.

When the psoas is tight, it causes a lot different problems. When it’s tight it can actually make it difficult for anyone to stand up from a sitting position. It can also cause pain across the beltline in your back when you try to stand up straight. And, a tight psoas will make it very difficult for you to be able to walk for long periods of time without having anything to lean on like a shopping cart for instance.

So, what is this particular muscle? I like to say that it’s located on the “front of the back”. What I mean by this is that it attaches to the front of the back bone. It’s deep in your abdomen behind your stomach, intestines and all the rest of the stuff in there.

You have two. Left and right. They attach to (at least) the last 5 lumbar vetebrae (in some people the attachment to the spine goes higher than the lumbar vertebrae) and travel down and attach to the inside of the upper thigh bone.

These muscles are important in so many different ways. The following examples will show just how much work these muscles actually do. For one, they act as the primary stabilizers for your lumbar spine. If you reach out to the side or bend over sideways, it’s the psoas that works to stop you from falling over sideways.

If you are reaching above your head, or stretching by bending backward, it’s the psoas that stops you from falling over backward.

The Psoas Moves The Legs and Curls The Trunk. So you can see that for back pain, exercising it would be a good low back pain exercise.

Most people don’t realize it, but when they are doing sit-ups or leg lifts when working on their abdominals, your psoas is doing a large part of the work too because apart from stabilizing the spine, the psoas works to curl the knees toward the chest.

This muscle is also the primary muscle that lifts your leg out in front of you when you’re walking and also raises your knee when you are marching.

As you can see, this particular muscle is responsible for a lot of activity that goes on in your body. And, because it has such a big role to play in a lot of aspects of our everyday lives, if it’s not flexible or limber enough, it can really limit how much we can do and how comfortable we are doing it.

How To do This Low Back Pain Exercise

In order to stretch the psoas, it’s important to keep some things in mind. For starters, it’s good to realize that you don’t have to be aggressive when it comes to stretching. Consistency and awareness is what’s really important.

When you do get the right stretch going, you should feel some gentle tension in the lower abdomen and into the upper front part of the thigh. I will walk you through a few ways to stretch it below.

Another thing to keep in mind is that it pays to really be aware of what you are feeling and experiencing when you are stretching. Stretching deliberately will help you stay focused on what you are doing in the moment of the stretch.

One more thing to keep in mind is that stretching is not supposed to be a painful thing. It may be uncomfortable, but the discomfort should be kept at it’s very minimum.

Our bodies are a lot smarter than we think. If we get too aggressive or we aren’t paying attention to it then the muscle might actually contract because of an inbuilt protection reflex.

Stretching the psoas can be done in several ways. It’s probably a good idea to try several ways to stretch to see which one gives you the most benefit. Like with any stretching program, don’t be too aggressive. A slow, gentle, and prolonged stretch will give you the best results.

The general position for stretching the psoas is with one leg forward and the other backward. There are a lot of ways to get this done. Just remember that the stretches are gentle and should be held for 30-60 seconds and repeated for 3-5 reps on each leg.

Method 1. Lay down on your back across your bed with both legs hanging down to the floor at the knee. Using your hands, pull one knee up toward your chest. If your feet are not able to touch the ground, this motion will stretch the psoas on the opposite leg.

Method 2. Place an upright chair (without arms) in front of a normal doorway. You stand on the opposite side of the doorway facing the seat of the chair. Standing in the same spot, place one of your feet on the seat of the chair while you hold on to the door posts for balance. Then simply bend the knee of the forward leg while keeping the rear foot completely on the ground. You’ll end up in a “lunge” position. This should put a good stretch on the front part of the rear leg.

Method 3. The proposal stretch. I call it this because to do it is like a guy asking a girl to get married. If it’s not too painful, you kneel on one knee with the opposite foot flat on the ground. The front foot should be in front of it’s knee, not right below it. To do this stretch, you simply lunge forward bending the front knee and stretch the front of the rear thigh.

So, in summary, a tight psoas can cause a lot of pain across the beltline or waist, especially when trying to stand up straight. This is because it’s attaches to the front side of the spine and pulls on it when standing up.

This muscle works to stabilize the back bone when you’re bending and reaching and it also helps to move the legs when you’re walking or running.

Keeping this muscle stretched out is very important when it comes to having a healthy back. And a good lower back pain exercise program should include a regular stretching program for the psoas muscle.

Try one of the three stretches mentioned above and see which one gives you the best results. Go at it slowly and gently so as not to cause any additional pain. Keeping the back healthy with low back pain exercise is a good prescription for staying active and having more fun.