The following blog post is based on fifteen years of research, trial and a lot of error! The errors include all the old wives tales such as: stretching the hamstrings, massage, acupuncture, yoga, McKenzie exercises, traction and so much more. The one and only, one stop shop, absolute expert in low back pain is Dr. Stuart McGill. His thirty years of research are a blessing to so many. All the information you need about McGill and his research may be found here.
In the last week of 2017 I hurt my back. I am currently experiencing pain in the middle of my lower back and a tingling sensation down my left leg. If I went to an orthopaedic surgeon I would be diagnosed with bulging discs at L5 & S1. They would say the bulge is pressing on my sciatic nerve causing the sensation down my leg. This is not a nice sensation, but it is very common. In this blog post I am going to share how to get from this place back to being pain free.
The goal is to get back to correct mobility as soon as possible. In order to do this you need to determine the right amount of resistance (training/exercise) that the body can handle. This is then increased over time. Before anything else the most important concept here is movement. Now I know that there is a day or two when you need to lie in bed with the hot water bottle, pain killers, heat patch or whatever you do but you need to get back to movement as soon as possible. Too much rest actually leads to back pain. Learn the hip hinge, ways for picking things up, getting up about of chairs and all of the extremely important movement patterns involving activation the hips and gluts (bum). All found in McGills work.
Exercise Program - Week 1 - In Pain
10 x Cat/Camel - Warm Up
10 x Kneeling Hip Hinge - Warm Up
The McGill Big 3
The McGill Big 3
3 x Side Plank on Knees (3 on each side)
3 x Bird Dog (Leg Only, 3 on each side)
6 x McGill Curl (3 on each leg)
Please click on the links to the videos to to see correct form. These exercises have been tested with sensors and have been found to put minimal load on the back. They are the best possible exercises to build up support around the back and core and to begin to train correct movement.
After just over a week I am pain free and have moved to the Russian descending pyramid. 5, 3, 1. This means I am still doing the above exercises but am now doing 3 sets. The first set is 5 reps on each side holding for 10 seconds. The second set is three reps and the final set is one repetition.
Too easy so have moved to full side plank which you can see in this video (coming soon). The other two exercises remain the same. You should also walk for 15 minutes three times a day from the very start but I did not incorporate that in this programme due to work commitments. I am also ready at this stage to increase the intensity of the bird dog by raising an alternative arm. It may be seen here in this video (coming soon). I am still doing the Russian descending pyramid 5, 3, 1.