With many folks more sedentary these days (and working in ad hoc home office setups), low back pain complaints are all too common.

To make matters worse, our first instinct is often to do nothing, and rest. While this may make sense in acute cases or during flare-ups, avoiding exercise can lead to a cycle of weaker muscles and MORE pain in the long run.

Here, then, are 4 gentle full-body moves you can do to lessen the pain over time (Note: If you can’t quite picture how any of the above exercises go, each exercise is linked to a YouTube search for good visual demos. And if you don’t have weights, grab some laundry detergent, or even a few heavy books you may have on the shelf):

1. Bird Dog Exercise.

This puppy (pun intended) strengthens your core, low back, and rear shoulders. Working in concert, these muscles will help take some of the load off your low back.

Start on all fours. Then, extend one arm forward and one leg back until they form a straight line with your body. Hold for a second, then repeat 10-12 more times before performing the same move with the opposite arm and leg.

The key here is to keep your abs TIGHT and avoid rotating your hips or arching your back.

2. Dead Bug Exercise.

Not nearly as squirmy as it sounds, this smooth move strengthens the abs with pelvis tucked, which is a great way to minimize low back pain. (Arching or extending puts your abs in a weak position and can place stress on the lower back as a result.)

To do this one, lie flat on your back, point your arms to the ceiling, and hold your legs at a 90-degree angle (with knees pointing straight up).

Next, push your lower back into the floor and slowly lower one arm while extending the opposite leg. Alternate sides until you’ve reached 10-12 controlled reps. PRO TIP: If you feel your low back arching away from the floor, try a shorter leg movement until you get stronger!

3. Dumbbell Row On Bench

This tune-up for your upper back, shoulders and arms uses three points of contact to support your back. In a prone position, place one knee and one hand on a bench (or couch) with the other foot on the floor.

Keep your low back flat and move the dumbbell up and down in a rowing motion, keeping your elbow close to your side at the top. Again, do not overly arch the low back or rotate the body.

4. Goblet Forward Lunge.

Word to the wise: it can be easier on the back to hold weights in front of the body. One reason the “goblet position” is so useful. This is done by holding either dumbbells or a kettle bell (or a laundry detergent container!) in contact with your torso.

Doing lunges on the regular improves hip mobility, which can be super helpful in propping up your back health. Aim for 2-3 sets of 10-15 reps per leg.

*** Also, stick with stationary vs. walking lunges, as they tend to be easier to control and you can avoid lapsing into awkward positions. ***

Well, there you have it.

Make this foursome a part of your home workout routine and it’ll pay dividends in showing back pain the exit. Like any other form of exercise, start slow and progress steadily from there.

And if it’s been a while since you’ve exercised, it’s crucial you get your pain assessed to determine the right plan for you BEFORE you start. For help with this (and most forms of low back pain) reply to this email or call the clinic (416) 967-4466.

Hope the winter blahs aren’t getting to you.

Tobogganing last week made a big positive emotional impact on me, and even moreso Hayden! But my butt didn’t enjoy the bumps so much, hence today’s topic and tips.

So I’m not just blowing smoke…Fresh air and physical activity really do make a difference! 😉

Dr. Josh

“Before seeing Dr. Gelber I had Chronic pain , headaches and migraines that I just accepted as part of life. I would take Tylenol 4 times a day, an anti inflammatory at times in addition to volatren to control the pain. I have been seeing Dr. Gelber for a number of months now and the change is amazing. I have taken Tylenol once in the past month and nothing else. I never thought I could be free of this pain.” – Tomasz G.