For those of you who are among the 100% of Americans (false statistic) with some sort of low back pain, sciatica, hip tension, office job, or no real flexibility regimen, you should keep reading. Not only that, but you should bookmark this page, take a screenshot and save it as your computer background, suggest it to your friends and family, and print out 1000 copies at kinkos and leave them at restaurants as a tip. Servers love that kind of thing.
USATODAY says that 8 out of 10 Americans will deal with some sort of back pain in their lifetime. (source) Due to this 80% statistic, Americans pay out almost 25 BILLION dollars every year for medical expenses and drugs to help alleviate the pain. Another 25 billion is spent on worker compensation for time lost due to surgery and/or time out of work. I know time off is great, but it gets hard to enjoy even incredible quality programing like “The Secret Life of the American Teenager” when you’ve seen the episode 17 times already and your recliner is covered in cheez-it crumbs. Not to mention that your whole family is really not impressed with your “my back hurts, and therefore I can’t take out the trash/bring you to cheer practice/stop drinking heavily”
If only you had heard the phrase “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” sooner! If only you had this blog as your home page! If only you had asked that cheerleader to prom back in ’81! Well, too bad, you didn’t, and now look where your life has taken you.
But, I’m here to tell you that if you have not had your lifetime dose of recommended back pain, if you’re here to learn from the mistakes of others and accept my perfect guiding wisdom with a smile, than I will gladly impart upon you dear readers, the tricks, nay, the skills that it takes to save yourself a lifetime of pain, disappointment and two and a half men reruns.
The two biggest muscular issues that I see that deal with low back pain are tight hip flexors, and a tight glute complex. The hip flexors are an interesting muscle group because they tie in at your back, to your thoracic spine, and then attach at the front of your body at the pelvis. So stretching, strengthening, or otherwise thinking about these muscles is not something that the average gym rat does, let alone the non-fitness minded person. They don’t even have a machine at the gym that targets these elusive creatures! (But they do have 97 machines for working the small head of your biceps).
If you’ve ever experienced a pinching or tightness in the front of your hip, if you’ve ever felt your hip joint “pop” or “crack” of if you find yourself sitting for a long period of time during the day, this is for you. Take 30 seconds on each side, and lean into the stretch without your front knee going too far over your toe. Leg warmers will DEFINITELY help the effectiveness of this one. You don’t need to extend your arms over your head like shown here, simply at your side or on your hips would be just fine. 3x a day, in between long lethargic periods, or while at your desk. Or on top of your desk. Especially if you’ve got leg warmers.
The second problematic area is the glute complex. This amalgamation of different muscles can get tight for various reasons; swinging a golf club, standing with most of the weight on one foot, getting out of your car wrong etc. Mine sometimes even tighten up spontaneously when I say the word ‘Jumanji’. So, there’s just not telling what kind of harm you’ve been doing to your body when your perform your pre-shower ritual of standing on one foot, repeating all the lyrics to Kid Rock’s “Bawitaba” and cleaning your ears.
Good news though. Here’s how you prevent this from causing problems.
Lay on the ground with your knees up and your feet on the ground close to your butt. Take your right leg and put your right ankle over your left knee. Take both hands and grab your left knee now, and pull it in towards your chest. You should start feeling a good stretch in the butt region. 30 seconds on each side, then switch.
Do both of these a few times per day for 30 seconds. If you don’t, you’ll most likely be walking around one day, thinking to yourself “wow, I’m too awesome for stretching” when all of the sudden, your legs will both fall off, and you’ll need massive reconstructive surgery, and end up getting metal rods realigning your spine and have an ultra sweet scar on your back. So I guess at the end of the day it wouldn’t even be that bad.