Check out this video by Sarah Leong outlining core activation principles!
by Zeinab Ndow, BSc Kin
Low back pain (LBP) is a very common issue that impacts many of us. There are a multitude of factors that influence the incidence of LBP, such as workplace ergonomics, acute incidents, and muscular weakness and joint irregularities.
There are ways to prevent the incidence of this injury, as well as stretches and exercises that can help lessen the discomfort as well as strengthen the surrounding muscles.
To address workplace ergonomics that may contribute to LBP, make sure if you are seated at a desk, that you opt for a chair with support that contours to the curvature of your lower and upper spine, or add a lumbar roll pillow to the chair. You should not be leaning too far forward or too far back. Be sure to also take frequent breaks from sitting, at least once an hour!
If your job is physically demanding, and requires heavy lifting, make sure that you are lifting with the proper technique. This means approaching the load or item squarely if possible, (not at an angle, or not bending sideways to lift), feet shoulder width apart, and securing a solid grip. When you lift, bend at your knees and lift upwards, by powering through your legs, driving the floor away with your feet, keeping the load as close to you as possible. Do not hinge at your hip or round your spine as you lift. Your spine should remain neutral and stacked throughout the duration of the lift. If the item is too heavy, do not attempt to lift it on your own, instead, ask for help.
Because the body is so interconnected, when there is weakness in one region, that region and others nearby may become more susceptible to injury. In some cases, LBP can be linked to weakness in the glutes and abdominal region. Because the low back is directly above the glutes, and directly opposite to the abdominals, if those regions are weak, the muscles in the low back may compensate and potentially get tight, and become more vulnerable to muscle spasms and discomfort. This is known as lower-crossed syndrome.
Below are a few exercises to help relieve the discomfort and tightness that you may feel in your low back:
- Lumbar rotation stretch:
Lie on your back. Slowly twist through your hips and bring one leg so it is rotated over the other leg and bent at the knee at 90 degrees. Let the arm on the same side as the bent knee hang off to the side to feel the full stretch, and place your other arm on the bent knee, gently push down on the knee and twist through your lower back. Hold on each side for at least 30 seconds.
- Posterior pelvic tilting:
Lie on your back with knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Find a neutral position for your pelvis. Slowly tuck your pelvis under, by squeezing your glutes. Return back to neutral. Repeat this 10x.
- Cat & Cow:
Get on your hands and knees.
For cat: slowly round through your spine by pulling your belly button towards your spine.
For cow: arch through your spine by tilting your pelvis forward and bringing your glutes into the air.
Try these exercises 10x.
*if either of these movements reproduces symptoms, adjust the range or try only the opposite movement.
Below are a few exercises to strengthen the abdominal and gluteal region:
- Glute bridges
Lie on your back with similar positioning to the pelvic tilt. To start this exercise, tilt the pelvis under, the same as the pelvic tilt exercise, and raise your glutes upwards, squeezing them together during the ascent and at the top. Slowly lower your glutes and repeat. Try this exercise 10x
- Side plank
Lie on your side, knees and hips stacked, leaning on one elbow. Place a towel or pillow under the elbow if this is uncomfortable. Slowly raise your hips upwards, maintaining a straight line in your torso from your head to your knees. Hold this for 30seconds. Repeat on the other side.
- Bird dog
Get onto your hands and knees. Slowly raise one arm forward in front of you, and the opposite leg behind you. Make sure your hips and aligned, and extend through your spine, making sure the entire spine is in line (ie. don’t crane your neck upwards). Squeeze your glute as you lift your back leg. Repeat this on the other side. Try this exercise 10x.
For more guidance on exercises, book an appointment with one of our kinesiologists, or for treatment to address low back pain, book an appointment with one of our physiotherapists.
The “Clock Exercise”
by Greg Cugnet
A great exercise when it is time to progress hip and balance following an injury.
by Zeinab Ndow
With working from home becoming the new normal among many of us, having an ergonomically designed workstation may not be at the top of our priority list. This may cause problems such as “Covid Shoulder” (as our physiotherapist Gail puts it) and neck pain from static seated postures sustained for long periods of time. In order to potentially prevent these types of injuries, addressing the engineering factors that come in to play may be necessary.
Tips for a healthier workstation:
- Elbow angled at 90 degrees with respect to the keyboard and computer mouse
- Wrists in neutral position (not angled upwards or downwards)
- Armrests should be at a height that support the forearms and allow your shoulders to be relaxed, (not shrugged or pulled down)
- Make sure your neck remains neutral and is not protruding forward excessively to look at text on a screen, instead consider increasing the text font size on your screen
- Place a pillow or rolled towel in between the backrest and your back for added support
- If seated in front of a computer, the top of the computer screen should be at eye level or slightly below the line of sight
- If looking at documents on a desk, consider a vertical or angled document holder to lessen the possibility of neck pain from flexing the neck forward.
- If writing at a desk, try to lean back in your seat and pull the chair closer to the desk instead of leaning forward in the chair and flexing the neck forward.
- Stand up at least once every half hour and stretch or walk around for 5 minutes! Our bodies are made to move!
If you are experiencing neck and back pain from working from home, or for guidance in preventing such injuries, book an appointment with one of our physiotherapists today.
By Zeinab Ndow
The hip flexors are a group of muscles that are important for stabilization of the spine and pelvis, and are used for lifting the knees towards the torso in daily activities such as walking up stairs, running, and walking uphill. Additionally, when we are in a seated position, the hip flexors remain contracted and shortened (because the hips are in a flexed position). Prolonged sitting in this position causes the hip flexor muscle fibres to shorten over time, and this may contribute to lower back pain when these shortened muscles pull on the pelvis and spine, causing the pelvis to tilt forward.
Pelvic Tilts forward = Compression in spine!
Tight hip flexors = Decrease glute muscle use → result: low back and knee pain
The Hip Flexor stretch is an excellent stretch to incorporate into your daily stretching routine. Doing this stretch will help with tight hip flexors experienced from a sedentary lifestyle, or activities where this position is used frequently.
This stretch can be performed in both a standing and kneeling position, and should be held for at least 60 seconds. Try this stretch 2-3x daily.
TIPS in Standing:
Stand with one foot in front of the other, with both feet parallel. If your back foot starts to turn outwards, consider the kneeling version as you may have tight calves and hamstrings and we want to focus on the hips in this stretch!
Ensure your hips are aligned (facing forwards) and not turning outwards or inwards.
Slowly bend your front leg, stopping when you feel a stretch in your back hip. Make sure your front knee does not go past your toes.
Keep your back upright (do not arch or slouch)
TIPS in Kneeling:
Start by kneeling down with your front and back leg at approximately 90 degrees and place a towel under your back knee if kneeling is uncomfortable.
Ensure feet are parallel with each other as in the standing version
Slowly lean forward, stopping when you feel a stretch in your back hip. Make sure your front knee does not go past your toes.
Keep your back upright (do not arch or slouch)
Watch our physiotherapist, Mary discuss the benefits of an effective squat to reduce low back pain and improve gluteal strength.
An Effective Squat
by Mary Stern
Registered Physiotherapist, MPT
with Mary Stern to learn more!
Looking for an exercise to help with your pain before you see a physiotherapist?
Physiotherapist, Paul Chang, explains in this video below the many benefit of the clamshell exercise – eliminate hip, knee and back pain all with one exercise.
with Paul Chang to learn more!
Our physiotherapist, Gail Mattuck, talks to us about stiffness in our mid-back (thoracic spine, t-spine).
With many of us working at a desk, sitting an increasing amount throughout the day back stiffness is very common. Let our physiotherapists put an end to your stiffness today.
See the video below:
Our Kinesiologist – Jordan Javier takes the times to answer a question he is often asked.
What is a Kinesiologist?
by Jordan Javier
Kinesiologists are human movement specialists who work with individuals with injuries, pain and chronic disease and help them regain their overall fitness through exercise prescription. I am certified to perform a functional movement screen to determine dysfunctional movement patterns and asymmetries. With the information gathered, a Kinesiologist will provide corrective exercises to improve movement patterns by ensuring proper mobility and stability are utilized by the joints that require them so others do not compensate. By correcting your movement patterns, you can reduce pain from old injuries and prevent new ones from occurring. Whether you’re recovering from a current or previous injury, an athlete trying to make it the next level or just trying to improve your overall fitness, understanding how your body moves will lead to proper exercise technique at the gym and in your daily activities. With proper movement technique, the correct muscles will be activated which will positively translate into your exercise regime and daily activities and at the same time decrease your risk for injury.
If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to call or email the clinic and ask for Jordan!
Have you ever wondered what pelvic floor physiotherapy is all about?
Our pelvic floor physiotherapist, Sarah Leong, takes the time to explain what it’s all about in this video and explains how this form of treatment is helpful for both women and men. Eliminating the belief that pelvic floor physiotherapy is only for pregnant woman.
To learn about all the benefits watch the video below!
by Sarah Leong, BSc, MPT
Pelvic Floor Physiotherapist