With everything covered so far, we have the foundation for a general low back care routine that you can take (and modify if needed) to start using right away. For people dealing with, or looking to prevent further occurrences of low back pain, establishing a daily routine that gets the back and spine moving safely, efficiently, and in a manner that sets up daily activities to follow is important.
Here’s a short recap of what we covered:
- First Steps with Lower Back Pain
- Building a Low Back Care Routine
- Activation in a Low Back Care Routine
And here is a condensed (roughly 1 minute) example run-through of the whole program. The real-time commitment for a walk-through of each activity was 10 minutes.
To cover some of the more specific questions I often get when discussing routine programming, see the FAQ below.
Frequently Asked Questions
- How many repetitions should I complete of each activity?
- Each of the “key cards” included in the posts provide a recommended number of recommendations to complete. You can increase or decrease that number as needed, however if you need to modify by more than one or two in each direction consistently, it is likely refocusing on proper form, or a progression/regression of the exercise might be more appropriate than simply changing the repetitions.
- How many sets should I complete of each activity?
- The overall program is designed to only complete one set of each. This should provide enough fluidity of movement, preparation for activity, and muscular engagement to get you moving in the morning. However, if you have time (approximately 10 minutes for one complete cycle) and feel doing another set will be well-tolerated by your body, feel free to add a second set as well.
- Are there common keys that I should keep in mind throughout the program?
- Yes! Form, form, form — of course — should be a priority over total number of repetitions completed, or the duration you hold a position. Complete what you can, and take breaks as needed. The other key to consider if maintaining core contraction: if you can, brace the core before beginning an activity, and maintain that muscle engagement throughout (but please keep breathing as well!).
- Does it matter which order I complete these activities in?
- Yes… and no. The program is laid out in a progressive manner — simple and movement encouraging (cat-camels) to more complex and integrated (bird dogs). I would strongly recommend proceeding in the order as described. But if you’re doing any of these exercises outside of a daily routine, they are not dependent on the rest of the program to be effective — you can use them in isolation as well.
- Should I do these every day? Or leave rest days between?
- Barring unique personal circumstances, YES — do these everyday.
- Can I complete these activities if I am currently struggling with lower back pain?
- Yes! But only what is possible. Some discomfort is ok to work through during activity, but acute, sudden painful sensations (or an overall increase in pain levels) during an activity means you should move on to the next, or a different, activity for the time being. Remember the principle of 1a) – Avoid Irritation — none of these activities should be making your pain worse.
- Can I make changes to these activities if I have experience with past rehabilitative exercises?
- Sure — this is a guideline. There are many other exercises that can be beneficial for developing better movement competence and low back resiliency, but these are some of the most effective activities that work for the majority of people dealing with lower back pain. But if you are going to make changes, it’s a good idea to proof those changes with a health professional or health resource as you go to make sure they are appropriate for you.
- How long should I continue doing this program?
- As long as you need. If you struggle with recurrent low back pain, and this type of program helps alleviate discomfort or make episodes of discomfort less frequent, stick with it for the long-haul. If low back pain is an unusual or new occurrence, and you find this program helpful, perhaps using this as a short-term intervention is all you need.