Simple Alignment and Posture Tips for Lower Back Pain
If you have low back pain, Restore Your Core has solutions that may help you find relief. RYC™ is a comprehensive movement program that teaches you to discover your body’s compensation patterns and reprogram your movement to be more effective. RYC™ provides practical alignment and posture tips that you can take off the mat and into your everyday life. I have nearly 20 years of experience with clients who have low back pain, but more importantly, I have been there myself. I had severely herniated lower back discs when I was 24, so bad that I spent two months in bed, and the next six months with such terrible nerve damage that I could hardly walk. What helped me eliminate pain was core strength and muscle repatterning. After a year of core work and other techniques, I was pain free. The work I did to heal my back pain eventually grew into Restore Your Core. Learning how to optimize your muscle use is one way to start down the healing path.
In the photo above are some more small, simple changes you can make to how you move in your daily life. These minor changes have a big payoff! Note: don’t worry about it if you don’t *always* make these adjustments, it is less about being “perfect” 100 percent of the time and more about gaining awareness of your default movement patterns and which ones might not be totally serving you. Our bodies are adaptable and capable so cultivating awareness of how we move, our habits, and preferences can make really amazing shifts .
Most low back pain is treatable
Once you’ve eliminated medical causes of low back pain such as a ruptured or herniated disc, sciatica, arthritis, kidney infections, etc., attention to how you move can make a huge difference with low back pain. RYC™ resolves back pain for many, many of my students. Part of the reason it works so well is that it encourages small, everyday changes that add up to big effects. In addition, it is a rehab focussed program, not a “get-thin-quick” or a “get a flat-belly” program. We spend ample time on movement patterns, breathing patterns, and learning to engage our core effectively.
How we use our bodies on a daily basis can affect the health of our joints, muscles, and bones. If you are suffering from back issues, core issues or even pelvic floor issues, taking care of your body’s alignment should be a part of your recipe for resolving your issues. There is usually not one thing that takes care of back issues; rather, it should be a multifaceted approach that includes alignment, exercises, and addressing movement blind spots and compensations.
Common Causes of Low Back Pain
Approximately 80% of American adults will experience low back pain at some point. It is extremely common. Short-term low back pain is the most common form—usually as a result of an injury. A fact sheet from the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke notes that “About 20 percent of people affected by acute low back pain develop chronic low back pain with persistent symptoms at one year. In some cases, treatment successfully relieves chronic low back pain, but in other cases pain persists despite medical and surgical treatment.” In addition, the number of people suffering from low back pain has increased in recent decades.
There are a variety of causes for low back pain, including bulging or herniated discs, spinal stenosis, strain, structural issues, arthritis, osteoporosis, and (more rarely) spinal infection or cancer. Assuming there are no other factors present that would require medical intervention, movement is the best treatment for low back pain. If you’re suffering from low back pain, this symptom checker from the Mayo Clinic can help you decide on the best course of action.
Back Pain During Pregnancy
Low back pain is also a frequent complaint during pregnancy. Often, pregnant people come into their pregnancy with their alignment a little off—feet turned out and pelvis forward. Some simple tips that may help: Don’t let your belly fall forward/pull everything forward. Watch out for going too far, too deep, and stretching too much as you exercise. And third, check into your breathing patterns. My comprehensive prenatal program, One Strong Mama, teaches you how to do all of this and will help you stay strong throughout your pregnancy.
Simple Moves for Low Back Pain
As I mentioned above, solving low back pain requires a multifaceted approach. Restore Your Core addresses many of those components. Let’s explore a couple of the pieces of the puzzle in more depth.
In this video I discuss alignment. This one simple tip—learning to stack your pelvis over your legs—has been a game changer for many of my clients. Once you align your pelvis to neutral, you take the strain off of your lower back, your knees and your pelvic floor. Remember that years of standing in one way does affect your muscles and your muscles usually hold you in your current alignment so be sure to combine this tip with resolving the muscle tightness that might be keeping your hips pulled out of alignment.
Here’s what you can do to align your pelvis: look at the picture above. The pelvis is in front of the legs. The weight is in the front of the feet, and the lower back is compressed. If your body looks like this:
- Place your fingers at the front of your hips, and find the sticky-outy bones there (those bones are called the ASIS).
- From those bones, trace a line around the side of your body to where the side seam of a shirt would be. It helps to stand sideways facing a mirror to do this. Drop a strap from that point to your foot. Observe whether the strap is ahead of your ankle or lined up with it.
- Back your weight up into your heels so that the strap now hangs in line with your ankle. This may feel awkward at first! Remember, your normal may not be neutral—we’re trying to get your normal to be neutral.
Line up your body
Your goal is to line up your body more like this photo:
Notice the difference between the two. Here, the pelvis is aligned over the heels. There’s a clear path of weight to the floor from pelvis to heel. If you’ve aligned your pelvis and your back pain persists, you may need to unravel the patterns a bit more: you may need to explore whether sacroiliac joint pain is part of the picture, or whether core or pelvic floor work is in order.
This movement sequence is great for working on the muscular imbalances that can contribute to low back pain. Building a strong butt is crucial to supporting your body well.
 Source: https://www.ninds.nih.gov/Disorders/Patient-Caregiver-Education/Fact-Sheets/Low-Back-Pain-Fact-Sheet