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How to get relief from a bad back & which exercises to avoid

How to get relief from a bad back which exercises to avoid

Back pain can be very debilitating and affects most of the population at one stage or another. Interestingly back pain usually affects more than one single part of your spine, it is generally caused by the biomechanics of your entire body.  Or if I am going to be brutal and straightforward your bad posture! This blog will help to offer solutions to the most common back pain issues and exercises to help prevent them in the future

It is your daily movement patterns that are the reason you have back pain. It is the repeated off centre, daily functions that you do that create imbalance and inflammation which causes your bad back.

Back specialists feel that there is no point visiting a chiropractor or a physio if you are continuing with bad posture during your day. Passive treatments like a massage or osteopathic treatment will only really benefit you if you are involved in your own treatment and improve your posture.

Until you set about changing your daily movement patterns I am sad to say that your pain will remain.

Back Pain – Identify, Avoid and Correct

Once you have crossed that mental barrier that your back pain and irritation comes from poor movement and posture during your day.  You can do something about it

The solution then becomes fairly simple and straightforward,

You simply need to identify your pain and avoid that particular movement.  You are your own best Dr and will be able to identify which moves aggravate your pain, then you can avoid that movement. I appreciate that may sound a little difficult to take on board but some common issues I see in class are:

  • You are more likely to suffer from back pain if your daily movement begins from your spine and not your shoulders or hips.  If you are constantly moving forward from your upper back, slouching at a computer, or relaxing o the settee in an awkward position. If you lift heavy objects by bending over rather than using a hip hinge technique.  Squatting or hinging from the hips when leaning over will relieve the pressure on your spine.
  • In addition, stiff hips are generally a pretty good predictor that you will have future back issues.    Tight hamstrings were generally thought to cause lower back pain this is no longer thought to be correct. However, an imbalance in your hips is a good indicator of back pain simply because you will be using one side of your body more than the other.

It is worth mentioning that when you have had back pain for a long period of time your back becomes very very sensitive to the slightest pain. I have had customers who feel that even having a sheet on their bodies can be painful.  This is because pain is a neural perception.

Your pain is registered by your brain and once back pain has been registered continually by your brain that neural perception becomes very sensitive.  You are more aware of that pain pathway.  Even the smallest pain will register significantly in your brain because that neural pathway has been highlighted repeated and therefore very sensitive.

I work with clients who are terrified of some movement (with due cause).   However gentle Pilates movement, in a calm environment where you can listen to your body, will help clients to regain confidence and find movement that was previously thought to be impossible.

MRI/CT Scans – keep yours!

Before leaving the subject of pain and being your own best diagnostic Dr –  remember you can keep your MRI/CT scans and show them to other specialists to help you to gain a deeper understanding of your own body.

Interestingly an MRI or CT scan is a picture of your back in a static position the real truth of where your pain comes from is a functional issue, the movement pattern that you repeat when you walk. So to have a realistic picture and understanding of your pain you may be invited to hold a hand weight or move so that the professionals can see the effect of this on your spine. In addition, if you are aware of which position and movement cause your pain – you can perform that functional move and it will be highlighted on the scan.  You can empower yourself and be your own best DrIf you are interested in relieving the symptoms of both a bad back and the contributing sciatic pain, this video and blog will be of interest: Exercises to relieve Sciatic pain

Your Back Anatomy

Muscle endurance is required to support your back, rather than strength.

The ability to hold a pose for a longer period of time rather than an excessive range of motion or lifting a heavier weight (strength) is more important for your back health.

Dr Stuart Gill refers to your back as a radio tower with supporting stabilising guy wires connecting the tower to the ground. The guide wires of your back are your supporting muscles and ligaments.  These anchoring muscles facilitate your back mobility.

Here are a few Latin names to get your mind around:

  • Gluteus (bum) support your pelvis especially your glut medius
  • Quadratus Lumborum of your back holds your pelvis
  • Internal Oblique stops your pelvis from tilting
  • External Oblique stops your pelvis from tilting the other way
  • Latissimus Dorsi links your shoulder to your spine and creates stiffness

Joseph Pilates referred to your muscles as an orchestra.  A muscular orchestra is when your muscles span your joints and therefore if your movement is restrained in one joint then it will affect the action at another joint.  Poor function or lack of movement in any of these muscles will cause you pain.

Your back is strongest in its natural, neutral position.  Where your 7 cervical neck vertebrae curve inwards, your 12 thoracic vertebrae mid curves gently outwards and your lumber curves inwards again.  Your spine is engineered to withstand load and trauma, by dissipating trauma along through curves to reduce the impact, rather than a straight line which would enable the trauma to travel straight up and cause immediate damage throughout your spine and beyond.

Therefore sitting or standing ‘in your curves’ is your natural, neutral and most comfortable position. 

Immediate relief from back pain – lie on your tummy

Lie horizontally and your discs will fill with fluid and your vertebrae push away from each other and your spine will length again.

Movement Goal

Your movement goal is to minimise spinal movement and instead use your hips and shoulders as your prime movers.  Modify your daily movements to keep your spine ‘neutral’ and then your discs will experience less strain. Building your muscle endurance and stamina rather than strength will help your back to be strong.


Prefer Video? Watch My Video:
Exercises to relieve a bad back

3 exercises to include

  • Squat and hip hinging then stand back up by pushing your hips forward
  • Lunge
  • Avoid twisting and loading and instead, use your hips to shoulders as movers.  Adapt and modify your movements to include Hip Hinge and Anti Shrug to depress your shoulders and stabilise your spine.

Exercises to avoid if you have a bad back:

  • Standing or seated forward fold
  • Hugging knees and lifting head – nose to knee
  • Superman – lying on your tummy and lifting arms and legs
  • If you have been interested in this blog and you’d like to know what it is like to work with a personalised coach, this blog will interest you: Why you might like to work with a Gorgeous Health Coach like me

Spine Health and good practice

  • Be active in your posture and treatment of back pain and learn to distinguish which activities cause your back pain
  • Avoid slouching when sitting and use a lumbar pad behind your back if sitting for prolonged periods of time
  • When standing from a chair reach your arms overhead and count to 10 – to reestablish length in your spine
  • If you are slouching when standing with your arms hung forward in front  – with your arms resting by your side turn your thumbs out and behind you like a hitchhiker
  • Avoid standing with your arms crossed, simply clasping your hands behind your back will relieve back stress
  • When you walk, walk fast with your eyes forward and your arms swinging
  • When bending to pick something up tip forward and let your body weight be balanced with your back leg – picture shown with me using a band
  • When leaning forward use your back less, avoid bending from the middle of your back by a long spine and bend your knees using a Hip Hinge and Anti Shrug
  • Lubricate your joints by using the cat and camel stretch

What’s next?

Good health comes from your mindset first and foremost.  Once you have confident self-acceptance of yourself and your body your nutrition and exercise pathway will follow. Knowing and accepting your body is the gorgeous way along with understanding that there are no ‘cheats’.  Your good health will enable you to take control back in your life.

Understand that there are no external forces that will give you a quick fix, no diet plans, not even an exercise machine that will give you the results you want without your own empowerment coming first.

I know from working with hundreds of women that if your mindset is not on board with your gorgeous plans then nothing is going to work. If you are not in the right mental place and want to change then it ain’t going to happen for you. If you still believe that the next diet plan or exercise workout is the one to change your life then you are not in a place for long-term change.

That is why Adele’s The Gentle Reset programmes work with your mindset first because that is what makes you strong and determined.  Then adding in simple nutritional steps that you can slip into your daily routine and including exercise that you enjoy, is so much easier when your mind is focused.

It is interesting that your health and wellbeing give you more empowerment and yet your good health only starts when you step into your empowerment.

If you would like to find a clearer path and focus for your mindset then feel free to apply for some time with me click here and apply for your personal session now.

You and I can talk through your health blocks, understand what is pulling you away from your health goals. and by the end of your call, you’ll know exactly what you need to do to get your health goals in place. We may decide to work together to help you reach your health goals successfully – and if so great – if not then that’s okay too. You’ll still have a clear plan to move your life forward.

So click here and apply for your session now. If you are looking to move your health onto the next stage, and create a new lifestyle that supports and nurtures you rather than drains you.  Then the 6 weeks Gentle Reset is perfect for you –  Join here:  6 weeks Gentle Reset

  • If you know that you are looking to improve your nutrition and nourish your body by adding in great nutritional and exercise habits that will not lead to burnout instead you will feel energised and vital so that you can take on all those ‘life’ tasks that previously you found so draining.
  • Or you are looking to increase your mental agility, enhance your creativity and problem-solving abilities. to tackle the next stage in your career and life then jump into the Group Programme
  • If you want to feel emotionally and physically stronger so that the stress of life doesn’t send you into a spin of negative coping strategies and behaviours then join us for the next round.


If you are looking to read more before you decide then read more about my Group Coaching programme click here: 6 weeks Gentle Reset 

The next round of Gentle Reset starts soon so get your mindset ready and join today to get started on your first habit, then join in the calls when the first round starts. Click here to join the 6 weeks Gentle Reset

The Gentle Reset

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Reference: Back Mechanic the secrets to a healthy spine your doctor isn’t telling you by Stuart McGill PhD

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