Lower back pain is becoming all too common as well as frustrating. Though there are potentially many causes, there are also many ways to relieve lower back pain.
So, stop accepting the issue and instead, learn about the common causes of low back pain, how to fix lower back pain, and exercises and stretches you can do to help relieve it.
As a Certified Strength & Conditioning Coach, one of the biggest problems I've heard from my mom clients is that their back hurts. Back pain is literally one of the most common reasons for doctor visits. According to statistics Canada, 5/10 people suffer from low back pain.
Thankfully, outside of serious medical conditions (herniated discs, osteoarthritis etc) most causes of back pain are common and can be fixed- with a little work.
As moms, it's even more common to grumble about our backs given that we lift, twist, and bend all day. Add the changes in our bodies from pregnancy and it's almost expected.
However, we can learn how to fix lower back pain if we just put in the effort. And believe me, it'll take some effort.
Acute Relief Versus Actually Fixing Low Back Pain
Before we get into the common causes of low back pain, let's look at the whole approach.
The good news is that you can learn how to fix low back pain! There are a lot of exercises and stretches you can use to help relieve the tension. The bad news is that there's no one exercise or stretch for low back pain.
Meaning, your back (and your body) work as part of a machine. You need to tweak a few parts to get it moving optimally.
While a specific stretch or some Tylenol will help with acute back pain (in the moment), you need to really look at the root causes of low back pain and fix those if you want the symptoms to disappear.
Don't shortcut the process. Focus on the entire issue instead of taking an easy (and totally temporary) way out to back pain relief.
Common Causes Of Low Back Pain
Now, as I mentioned, there's a lot of causes of low back pain. My advice is always to chat to your doctor first to make sure there's not a bigger issue (herniated discs etc) before jumping into any exercise routine for low back pain.
If there's not a huge issue and your doctor just tells you to take Tylenol when it hurts, then, there are some very probable causes of your back pain:
- Poor posture
- Inactive glutes
- Weak core
- Daily habits
- Stuck glutes
In my experience, these are the most common causes of low back pain. Unfortunately, they're not independent of each other. You need to look at all of them to fix lower back pain.
This is one of the most overlooked causes of chronic back pain especially in moms and pregnant ladies. Beginning during pregnancy, our center of gravity shifts to accommodate a growing baby. This shift makes our posture (which was probably not great initially) even worse. It causes our shoulders to round and low back to sway.
Though we don't stand like this all the time, when we're not carrying our babes we tend to stand with a wicked back arch. We thrust our chests forward while sticking out our bum. This ties into pelvic alignment (and the issues that come with anterior pelvic tilt).
Basically, we need to be in the middle of these two postures but struggle to get there.
Strong glutes help with a variety of body aspects but one of those is posture. Glutes are part of the posterior chain but also the pelvic floor.. The glutes help pull the pelvis into the place it's supposed to be, support the low back and generally help hold us up (learn more about why everyone should train glutes).
Unfortunately, inactive glutes means that instead of the glutes supporting us, all the pressure from our upper body is placed onto our low back- not where it should be.
Learning to fire up the glutes (all of them, not just the big ones!) is often one of the best things you can do to relieve back pain. Here are my favorite at home glute exercises to get started.
If you really want to step it up, learn more about your bum muscles in my blog post: Glute Training 101: Everything You Need To Know.
Our daily habits do us no favors when it comes to causes of low back pain! If we're a mom, we're always picking up, twisting, carrying. If we're a mom who works, many of us lead more sedentary lives and sit too much.
We're looking at postural issues from inactivity and sitting (we sit while we work, eat, drive, relax). Thus, our chest muscles become chronically tight, and our upper backs unable to do their job. The posterior chain becomes underdeveloped and all of it adds up and leads to back pain.
Or we do things in poor form.
Many of us pick up and squat with poor form because we've never practiced the right form. Carrying kids, as in the picture above, or picking them up off the floor improperly are big causes of low back pain.
Glutes That Don't Move
This is an area most commonly forgotten when it comes to how to fix low back pain. Your glutes should support you but they should also move. Poor mobility and flexibility in the hips makes it so the glutes are unable to do their job.
Postpartum specialist, Madison Cleckler, and I chat about this a lot in our podcast about alleviating postpartum back pain.
Get the hips to move so that they can do their job and support your lo back.
How To Fix Low Back Pain
Alright, if you're feeling a bit overwhelmed- it's okay! With the exception of medical conditions, back pain is pretty preventable if you put in the time and effort. It just seems like a lot to take in.
However, remember I mentioned it's a whole-body thing? There is no one stretch or one exercise that will immediately relieve lower back pain. You need to put in the consistent work to fix low back pain long term.
So, where do you start? Here is the area to focus on:
- Strengthening the glutes and hamstrings
- Getting the glutes to move (hip mobility)
- Strengthening the upper back muscles (pull you out of those rounded shoulders)
- Learning to hip hinge
- Strengthening the core, particularly the anterior core to help hold you up (part of this is done by learning to reconnect our movement and core muscles with this diastsis recti workout)
- Strengthening the back directly with low back exercises
Exercises & Stretches For Low Back Pain
Looking at the list above, I'm assuming you want some specific exercises and stretches for low back pain! There's a lot of ways to go about this: you can work these exercises into a training program you already have or you can create a "low back-friendly" routine around them.
Below are specific movements to focus on to help fix lower back pain:
- Here are the best at home glute exercises
- Start performing exercises like banded rows, pull aparts, and face pulls to strengthen the upper back. Note: you can perform the face pulls by wrapping the band around your feet too,
- Learn how to hip hinge and drill it in. Literally. Practice daily.
- Work hip mobility into your weeks. Here is a follow-along, hip mobility routine
Reduce Daily Back Pain & Build Strong Glutes
In just 25 pages you'll have the exact formula to reduce back pain and carry your kids easier. My Stronger Glutes For Busy Moms E-book provides you with everything you need to strengthen your glutes at home including the exact workouts I use with clients.
This e-book will take you through:
- No equipment glute workouts to do over a four week period
- Resistance band glute workouts to take your toning to the next level
- My favorite glute finishers (booty burners)
- 5-weeks worth of full-body, progressive workout programs to continue using after you’ve finished the initial programs
Take the guesswork out of your glute training and follow a plan. Because being strong isn’t optional when you're a mom.
When it comes to what you should do weekly to relieve low back pain, here is how I would break it down with my clients. Keep in mind that this is very generic many clients should have specific plans appropriate to their own abilities and problems.
Monday: Upper body at-home workout with an emphasis on back + post-workout chest stretches
Tuesday: 15-Minute Glute Workout
Thursday: 15-Minute Glute Workout
Friday: Upper body at-home workout with an emphasis on back + post-workout chest stretches
Saturday: Hip mobility routine
Don't forget to pin these helpful tips on How To Fix Back Pain!
As moms, we're moving all day long. But rarely are we moving correctly. Instead of using our muscles and proper mechanics, we rely on our joints, tendons, and ligaments.
This is a recipe for disaster and, as you know all too well, a general cause of low back pain. Instead, work on building strength, improving posture, and becoming proficient in basic movements and your back pain will be far less.