As a chiropractor in San Diego for over 20 years, I have seen more than my share of low back injuries. One of the main concerns that people have when dealing with such injuries is how to continue with exercise in their daily activities while in recovery. This can be tricky depending on the condition so let us use a recent new patient of mine-Lisa, mother of 2, to explain.
When Lisa came to see me, she had just picked up her two-year-old from the ground, causing a sharp stabbing pain in the right side of her low back. Lisa had recently turned 40 and her activity levels had slowed a bit due to work and kids taking up a lot of her time. Lisa had been an active person her entire life, playing basketball and softball, as well as regularly going to the gym. She knew how to squat and lunge properly, but just like time and gravity, low back conditions don’t discriminate!
Following a thorough history and examination we noticed two key issues with Lisa. First, she had an extreme lack of mobility in her lower lumbar spine (low back) in bending forward and backwards. Secondly, she had a slight anterior pelvic tilt, which is a common postural deviation that can put excessive pressure on the lower back.
An anterior pelvic tilt is when the pelvis tilts forward. Picture sticking your butt out and arching your back.
Quick sidenote. Anterior and posterior pelvic tilts are not necessarily bad positions. Everybody is made a little different. That is where seeking professional help can point you in the right direction. OK. Back to our story!
I told Lisa about something called pelvic neutral. This is a position that focuses on aligning the pelvis in a neutral position, which can help relieve pressure on the lower back. In other words, not tilted forwards or backwards. It involves engaging the muscles around the pelvis to maintain proper alignment and to prevent excessive movement in the lower back.
First things first, we had to improve mobility of the lumbar spine. We achieved that through manipulation of the spine performed by yours truly😉.
The first exercise we worked on was the pelvic tilt. This is how I taught her to find pelvic neutral:
We then worked on exercises to help her engage and strengthen the muscles that would bring her pelvis to a neutral position as well as activate her glutes. We used some glute bridge variations for this.
As Lisa continued to work on her pelvic neutral position and strengthening her gluteal muscles, she was able to gradually resume her daily activities and exercise routine. She began by focusing on low-impact exercises that wouldn’t put too much stress on her lower back, such as swimming and yoga.
By maintaining pelvic neutral while engaging the muscles around her core and pelvis, Lisa was able to reduce pressure on her lower back and prevent further injury. She also found that her overall strength and stability improved, making her less prone to future injuries.
Pelvic neutral is a “safe” position in many cases that can be extremely helpful for people dealing with low back injuries. By learning how to find pelvic neutral while engaging the muscles around the core and pelvis, it can help reduce pressure on the lower back and improve overall stability.
If you’re dealing with a low back injury, consider talking to a healthcare professional first, such as a chiropractor, to see if pelvic neutral could be helpful for you.