7 Exercises to Help When Personal Training a Client With Back Pain

The muscles of your lower back are responsible for movement, postural control and support. They work alongside your bones and ligaments to allow for functional movements and keep you upright throughout the day. When these lower back muscles are sustained in an awkward position, experience an unexpected movement or are overexerted they can become irritated and go into spasm. Lower back pain can be a result of many factors including a sprain or a strain. A sprain is over-stretching of a ligament while a strain is an injury to ether a muscle or a tendon. 

The symptoms of a sprain or a strain includes; 

  • Pain that worsens with movement 
  • Muscle cramping or spasming 
  • Decreased function and or motion of the joint for example difficulty walking, bending forwards or standing straight

Cases of back sprain or strains can include: 

  • Twisting or pulling of a muscle or a tendon 
  • Improper lifting technique 
  • Over stressing the back muscles 
  • Overuse or prolonged movements of the muscles or tendons  

The recovery time for an acute onset of back pain is around 24 to 48 hours. Sprains and strains will continue to improve over time with the incorporation of the correct rehabilitation. If your symptoms do not improve over time, your lower back pain progresses over time or if you begin experiencing leg symptoms then a visit to an Exercise Physiologist may be required to fix your back pain.

More complex underlying problems or conditions, such as degenerative disc disease, herniated discs or facet joint osteoarthritis, may result in lower back pain. Lower back spasming can occur due to the instinctive inflammation of the muscles surrounding the underlying condition. In these cases, health professionals, such as soft tissue occupational therapists and Exercise Physiologists, will not only work to treat the acute pain and spasm but the determine the underlying cause of your symptoms.

Personal training for people with injuries

Most minor back injuries get better by themselves with rest, however personal training for people with injuries can be beneficial to aid recovery. If you have an injury or back pain we recommend completing your personal training sessions with an Exercise Physiologist. Exercise Physiologists are experts in the prescription of exercise for pain relief and injury prevention. Your exercise program will work with you to achieve your health and fitness goals and can incorporate any thing from weight lifting, strength and conditioning style training, resistance style training, flexibility work etc.

The following are examples of 7 simple personal training stretches for people with injuries that can be completed in the comfort of your own home and under guidance from your exercise physiologist. These personal training stretches are beneficial for people with back injuries as they will stretch and lengthen your back muscles to help alleviate symptoms. Each stretch is explained in depth in easy to follow steps on how to complete each movement successfully.

Stretch #1: Forward bending 

The first personal training stretch for people with back injuries is named ‘Forward Bending’  

Forward bend stretch
  1. Rolling through each vertebrae of your spine, slowly roll down and allow your chest to fall toward your knees with your arms reaching toward your feet. 
  2. Slowly bending forward, relax your muscles. 
  3. Hold for at least 10 seconds.
  4. Slowly rise back up again.

Stretch #2: Child’s Pose

The second personal training stretch for people with back injuries is named ‘Child’s pose’ 

Child’s pose
  1. Kneel on your mat with your knees wider than hip-width apart and your feet together behind you.
  2. Sit back on your heels and fold forward, resting your belly on your thighs. Extend your arms out in front of you and rest your forehead on the floor. You’ll feel this stretch in your shoulders and back, in addition to your hips and glutes.
  3. Gently press your chest and shoulders toward the ground to deepen the stretch.
  4. Hold for at least 30 seconds.
  5. For best results repeat 8-12 times.

Stretch #3: Pigeon Stretch

The third personal training stretch for people with back injuries is named ‘Pigeon stretch’ 

Pigeon Pose
  1. Lunge with your knee on the ground, point your knee out to the side and lean forward.
  2. You should feel a stretch through your front glute.
  3. Hold for at least 30 seconds. 
  4. Repeat on other leg

Stretch #4: Downward Facing Dog

The forth personal training stretch for people with back injuries is named ‘Downward Facing Dog’

Downward dog
  1. Start on your hands and knees, with your hands stacked under your shoulders and knees under your hips.
  2. Spread your hands wide and press your index finger and thumb into your mat.
  3. Lift your tailbone and press your butt up and back, drawing your hips toward the ceiling. Straighten your legs as best as you can and press your heels gently toward the floor.
  4. Your head should be relaxed between your arms, facing your knees. Your back should be flat.
  5. Hold for at least 30 seconds.
  6. For best results repeat 8-12 times.

Stretch #5: Twist 

The fifth personal training stretch for people with back injuries is named ‘Twist’. This stretch was be completed in two different ways, the first option is

Torso Twist
  1. Twist your torso to the left or right and keep your hips in place.

Second option for a deeper stretch 

  1. Twist your torso to the left or right and keep your hips in place.
  2. Hold onto the arm rest of a chair and twist even more for a deeper stretch. 

Stretch #6: Threading the Needle 

The sixth personal training stretch for people with back injuries is named ‘Threading the Needle’ 

Threading the Needling
  1. Start on all fours with your hands under your shoulders and hips over your knees.
  2. Reach your right arm underneath and across your body with your palm facing up.
  3. Bend your left elbow as you gently lean into your right side; you should feel a stretch in the back of your right shoulder.
  4. Hold for 30 seconds then return to the starting position and repeat.
  5. For best results repeat 8-12 times.

Stretch #7: Cat cow 

The seventh personal training stretch for people with back injuries is named ‘Cat cow’. This stretch two movement, this stretch is very reliving for any lower back pain. 

  1. Start on your hands and knees, aligning your wrists underneath your shoulders and your knees underneath your hips.
  2. Think of the spine as a straight line connecting the shoulders to the hips. Try visualizing the line extending forward through the crown of the head and back through the tailbone. This is the position of a neutral spine.
  3. For the cow pose – Inhale and curing your toes under, tilting your pelvis back so that your tail bone sticks up 
  4. Let your belly drop,  but keep your abdominal muscles hugging your spine by drawing your navel in.
  5. ake your gaze gently up toward the ceiling 
  6. For the cat pose- Release the tops of your feet to the floor. Tilt your pelvis forward, tucking your tailbone. Again, let this action move up your spine. Your spine will naturally round.
  7. Draw your navel toward your spine and drop your head looking down towards your navel.

Further rehabilitation maybe required

As your lower back spasm and pain eases, your lower back may feel better but you are actually at a higher chance for re-injury during this period when you don’t have pain but your muscles and ligaments are still weak. During this phase your Exercise Physiologist will focus on restoring your normal lumbar spine movement, muscle length and resting tension. Your Exercise Physiologist will work on increasing your muscle strength, endurance, balance and spine stability. 

The exercise physiologist may commence you on a lower abdominal core stability program to facilitate your important muscles that dynamically control and stabilise your lower back and pelvis. They will then look to restore your full range of motion and prevent reoccurrence. Depending on your chosen work, sport or activities of daily living, your soft tissue occupational therapist and exercise physiologist will aim to restore your lower back function to safely allow you to return to your desired activities. Everyone has different demands for their lower back that will determine what specific treatment goals you need to achieve.

It is best to consult a health professional before starting a new stretching or exercise program. At Infused Health our highly trained Soft Tissue Occupational Therapist and Exercise Physiologist that will use a holistic view to help treat your injuries, conditions or any concerns you may have. You can make an appointment today by calling 0401 876 623.

Published by Urban Health HQ

We are a health and fitness centre offering Occupational Therapy, Exercise Physiology, Personal Training and Group Fitness classes.

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