Back pain - How to help

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Back pain – How to help

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How often do you find yourself taking medication to relieve your back pain symptoms – or how many times do you find yourself heating up the wheat bag in the microwave? Most likely, too often, right?

It seems it is more common to suffer with back pain than not – and it’s no wonder.

Studies calculate that around 28 million adults in the UK are affected by some type of chronic pain (pain that lasts for more than three months). That’s around 43% of the UK’s population. Even more concerning is the fact that 62% of adults aged 70 and over claim to suffer with some form of back pain. With an ageing population, it is likely that the prevalence of chronic pain will continue to increase and the need for pain management and relief will grow.

The most common part of the back to inure is the lower back. So, what causes back pain and what can we do to help?

Lower back pain can be caused by a variety of problems with any parts of the low back, such as spinal muscles, nerves, bones, discs or tendons in the lumbar spine. The main causes of low back pain include:

  • The nerve roots in the low back that go to the legs may be irritated
  • The large lower back muscles may be strained
  • The bones, ligaments or joints may be damaged
  • An intervertebral disc may be degenerating

Symptoms of Low back pain can include:

  • Difficulty moving that can be severe enough to prevent walking or standing
  • Pain that also moves around to the groin, buttock or upper thigh
  • Pain that tends to be achy, dull, burning or tingling
  • Muscle spasms, which can be severe
  • Local soreness upon touch
  • Pain may be worse in the leg and foot than in the lower back
  • Pain that is usually worse after long periods of standing still or sitting
  • May be accompanied by weakness, numbness or difficulty moving the leg or foot

Exercises for low back Pain

Low back exercises are important to maintain a strong and well-conditioned back, making it able to withstand more stress, and protect the spine better. Back exercises focus on hip, back and abdominal muscles. Taken together, the core muscles can provide pain relief from providing strong support for the spine, keeping it in alignment and facilitating movements that extend or twist the spine. Below are simple exercises which can be performed at home to prevent low back pain and keep your spine healthy:


Knee Rolling

Lay flat on your back with knees bent, keep your feet together and ensure feet at flat on the floor. Drop your knees to one side to feel a slight twist in to the low back and repeat 10 times to each side.

Hamstring stretch

Lay on your back with legs out stretched and bring your leg up to support behind the knee, slowly straighten your knee to feel a stretch into the back of your thigh muscle. Hold 20-30 seconds and repeat 3 times on each leg.

Piriformis Stretch

Lay on your back with knees bent and place right foot on the left knee. Place hands around the left knee and pull leg up towards the chest. A stretch should be felt deep into the buttock muscle. Hold 15-30 seconds and repeat 3 times on both sides.

Cat and Camel Stretch

Take position on hands and knees. Ensure hands are in line with shoulder and knees in line with hips. Keeping arms straight and push back away, hold 5 seconds and then lower back and arch holding for 2 seconds. Repeat 10 times each way.

Back extension

Lay face down and place hands by your side in line with chest. Push up with arms to arch back. Repeat times 10.


Strengthening/Core Stability:

Hip extension

Lay face down and lift leg straight up 6 inches off the floor, feel tightening in to the buttock muscles. Hold for 5 seconds and repeat times 10.

Pelvic tilting

Lay on you back with knees bent, feet flat on the floor and feet shoulder width apart. Draw your belly button towards the floor and feel a gentle tightening around your lower abdomen. Roll your pelvis to arch your back and hold for 2 seconds, then roll pelvis to flatten back and hold for 5 seconds. Repeat 10 times.


Assume Position of pelvic tilting exercise and tighten muscle around the lower abdomen. Roll your pelvis to flatten the back against the floor and tighten your buttock muscles. Peel the pelvis and spine off the floor to lift pelvis so knees, hips and shoulders are in line – hold for 5 seconds and lower slowly. Repeat times 10.


Lay on your side with your knees bent to half way and position feet in line with the buttocks. Place hand on pelvis for support and lift the top knee away from the bottom knee keeping feet together. Feel tightening into top of buttock muscle and hold for 5 seconds and lower slowly, repeating 10 times on each side.

General tips before performing the above exercises:

  • Wear comfortable clothes.
  • Stretching should be pain free, so, do not force the body into difficult positions.
  • Move into the stretch slowly and avoid bouncing. This could put strain onto the muscle.
  • Exercise on a clean, flat surface that is large enough to move freely.
  • Hold stretches long enough (20-30 seconds) to allow muscles or joints to become loose.
  • With strengthening exercises ensure you control the movements and take slow deep breaths in and slowly exhale.


For any questions regarding your back or any pain you may be in, talk to our professionally trained Physiotherapists using our FREE online service, ‘Ask A Physio’.

Alternatively, you may call us on 01282 453 110.

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