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Lower Back Exercises/RICE Method

ZavianZavian universal peace sounds better than forever warRegistered User regular
Long story short, I've been on a chemo drug the past few months for my UC which has left me severely fatigued and I haven't been able to do my regular weights-based exercises or even go out on runs/walks (I have to avoid direct sunlight due to the chemo drug, have basically been a vampire) and now I've been having painful lower back spasms. I have a doctor's appointment in two weeks, but was looking into low impact lower back exercises as well as the RICE method to try and improve in the meantime. Google is giving me conflicting views on the RICE Method (which would mean buying a lower back ice pack, but have read that numbing muscles may be counter-intuitive?) so not sure if I should spend the money on a cold gel wrap. I've also been trying to find some low impact exercises I can do to help strengthen the back muscles, but it's painful even to take deep breaths/stand up/bend over etc. I don't want to injure myself even more, just trying to find something to do before I see my doctor in two weeks. Was wondering if anyone had any suggestions/tips/low impact lower back exercises?

Posts

  • AldoAldo Hippo Hooray Registered User regular
    Not a doctor. not a physiotherapist. Just someone who has been helped by the former in the past for less severe lower back problems.

    IMO there's two paths you can explore:

    1. practicing with better posture, healthier ways to pick stuff from the floor. I have been helped by a Mensendieck therapist and a Cesar therapist. The former is better established globally, the latter seems to be more obscure. Both start from the conviction that there are worse and better ways to perform everyday actions and that it is possible to practice these better ways so you put less strain on your body.

    2. keep it movin': this is kind of the approach of that cheerful dude on YouTube/socials, but also something I've heard from physiotherapists: if it's already a struggle to take deep breaths, then that's the level you're currently on. Don't push it further, but do keep your body moving. Even something as simple as bending forward a few times or taking deeper breaths than usual is helping your body.

    I hope your doctor can help you, maybe refer you to a therapist specializing in recovery.

    Zavian
  • PacificstarPacificstar Registered User regular
    I have a bad lower back, but not one anywhere near as bad as yours. I've been doing yoga and yoga-adjacent exercises and it's been super helpful. Exercises that build your core muscles (like planks and variations of planks) go a really long way.

    Up-Down Dog motion helped me a lot. When I first started doing them, I did a very minor arch of my back in the upward looking part. Focus on squeezing your abs and butt. Let those muscles provide stability and support where your lower back can't.

    I've been doing planks and variations on them. This video shows some good ones. I hold the position for 20-30 seconds, and rest maybe 45 seconds to 1 minute between exercises.

    Over time (a month doing these 3-4 times a week) it made a big difference. Even without losing weight, I've noticed that my gut doesn't stick out as far because the muscles are naturally tighter. My lower back feels stronger and more flexible than it has in years.

    ZavianSimpsonia
  • schussschuss Registered User regular
    edited April 8
    Reference: I herniated the disc between L1 and L2 and went to a physiatrist and PT to recover so I could avoid surgery.
    I'd also say bird dogs are great - here You can also do them while on a yoga ball with your core flexed. Additionally, if you have the ball, you can walk your hands out to do a plank with your feet on the ball here - though note that the feeling shouldn't be to flex your abs to push in your belly button, but rather focus on the out ring of your abs tightening as a single motion. It sounds weird, but it makes sure you're going after the stability abs, which are what you need to build up.
    All the stuff Aldo and PacStar said is also well in-line with the recommendations I got through my recovery.
    Also, in general I've found that getting a rice heating pack (basically the sacks of rice for head and neck), heating it in the microwave for 2 minutes then putting on your back works great. Cold never really worked for me, as the warmth improved flexibility, which reduced the pain.

    schuss on
    ZavianPacificstar
  • CelloCello Registered User regular
    edited April 8
    I'm gonna be honest pal, the exercises and recommendations above are good but you should really consider seeing a physiotherapist who can gauge your condition and give you safe options to help/alter programs on the fly if other issues come up

    You're more likely to see results faster with that professional consultation

    Generally heat should be for older/chronic injuries and ice for new injuries based on my physio's recommendations for my various injuries

    Cello on
    Steam
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    ZavianAldoPacificstarschussOrcaDarkewolfe
  • SimpsoniaSimpsonia Registered User regular
    Going to ditto on yoga or yoga adjacent pose/exercises, they massively helped my lower back issues. Mountain pose, up and down dog, child's pose, alternating cat cow poses, bridge pose. Building up your core, glute, and leg muscles will go a very long way to alleviating the strain that your back is under.

    ZavianPacificstar
  • dispatch.odispatch.o Registered User regular
    edited April 8
    caution on folding/bending motions unless you're sure there are no acute disc issues going on.

    I find some light pilates style mat workouts to be great when my back is doing poorly. To be honest sometimes with my destroyed discs just getting on the floor and changing positions is too much though. So YMMV.

    dispatch.o on
    Zavian
  • BarrakkethBarrakketh Registered User regular
    It might be worth working on stretching your hip flexors as well. The largest muscle (psoas major) connects to the L1-L5 vertebrae of your spine (the lumbar region). Tightness leads to lower back pain, anterior pelvic tilt, and lumbar lordosis.

    Rollers are red, chargers are blue....omae wa mou shindeiru
    dispatch.oNaphtaliPacificstarZavian
  • dispatch.odispatch.o Registered User regular
    edited April 8
    The video I did most frequently. Still do it sometimes and really should get more consistent.

    Beginner Pilates Mat Workout - 15 Minute from John Garey.

    I aimed for 5 days a week, it really is only 15 minutes and it would be embarrassing for someone to watch someone who's 6'2" barely able to switch positions without gritting teeth, but it helped a lot. Eventually I increased the number of reps on the things that felt good or challenging.

    Edit:

    I don't really write reviews but seriously considered sending this guy a thank you letter.

    Edit2: Have you had an MRI?

    dispatch.o on
    Zavian
  • ZavianZavian universal peace sounds better than forever war Registered User regular
    Thanks everyone for the info and tips! I had my doctor's appointment, the fatigue and muscle pain is a known side effect of the chemo drug I'm on, the doctor suggested I switch to taking it at night instead of the morning to try to lessen the side effects as well as increasing my electrolyte intake; I've also had labs ordered for a bunch of stuff including vitamin levels like iron. I've been doing stretches including some suggested here and they've helped out a lot! I never used to do stretches much, used to focus on weight training, but the stretch exercises really have helped out. Luckily it seems I'm on the upswing, and hoping the change in dosage time will also help (doctor said it would take a week or two to see results, and have a follow-up after)

    AldoNaphtaliPacificstar
  • dispatch.odispatch.o Registered User regular
    edited April 15
    IANAD
    If it's Methotrexate, you can ask about a once a week IM shot you can give yourself. It'll wipe you out for 12 hours, but it beats feeling vaguely exhausted always. It also fucks with folic acid.

    Best of luck, autoimmune diseases are a shitty thing.

    dispatch.o on
  • manwiththemachinegunmanwiththemachinegun METAL GEAR?! Registered User regular
    Zavian wrote: »
    Long story short, I've been on a chemo drug the past few months for my UC which has left me severely fatigued and I haven't been able to do my regular weights-based exercises or even go out on runs/walks (I have to avoid direct sunlight due to the chemo drug, have basically been a vampire) and now I've been having painful lower back spasms. I have a doctor's appointment in two weeks, but was looking into low impact lower back exercises as well as the RICE method to try and improve in the meantime. Google is giving me conflicting views on the RICE Method (which would mean buying a lower back ice pack, but have read that numbing muscles may be counter-intuitive?) so not sure if I should spend the money on a cold gel wrap. I've also been trying to find some low impact exercises I can do to help strengthen the back muscles, but it's painful even to take deep breaths/stand up/bend over etc. I don't want to injure myself even more, just trying to find something to do before I see my doctor in two weeks. Was wondering if anyone had any suggestions/tips/low impact lower back exercises?

    Not a licensed physical therapist, but I do work in the field as a licensed assistant. Assuming this is a non-injury, non-sciatica low back pain (nothing shooting down the leg or weakness/buckling) which I am assuming since you mentioned spasms as your main complaint. I would recommend some simple stretches done in supine. These are starter exercises for essentially any flexion based low back pain, 1-2 minutes per stretch done up to several times daily.



    This video has several core exercises and stretches which may not be fully appropriate, but this is a super common mix and are worth seeing if any of them help. I'd avoid strengthening exercises however until you're properly evaluated.

    Beware of excessive use of ice, as its a vasoconstrictor and over icing can, in my experience, make spasm worse if *over done*. You can still use ice if it helps, but I'd keep it to 10-15 minutes.

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