If your back went out recently, you know how painful it can be. Watch the video to learn how to relieve the pain, plus how to keep from throwing out your back again in the future.
What Does Throwing Out Your Back Mean?
From a medical standpoint, there is no medical term for "throwing out your back".
Throwing out your back is a colloquial term.
It's usually a sudden injury, often from lifting something or bending down and getting a sudden catch in your back.
What DOESN'T Throwing Out Your Back Mean?
When you throw out your back, it doesn't mean that your back has gone out of place or that you've slipped a disc.
Discs don't actually "slip" out of place.
People use the term "slipped disc" to refer to a herniated disc. However, throwing out your back doesn't necessarily mean you've injured a disc.
Throwing out your back doesn't usually mean that you've seriously injured anything (even though it hurts A LOT).
Most of the time, the pain from throwing out your back is just from a really strong muscle spasm.
That spasm happens because when you do repetitive motions like repetitive bending or repetitive lifting.
Often you move primarily through the same spinal segments, most often L4, L5, and S1.
This in turn can cause hypermobility at those segments.
We'll discuss more about how to stabilize those segments later.
First though, if you've just thrown out your back, you probably want to know what to do to stop the pain.
What To Do When You Throw Out Your Back
A lot of times, the pain that you get is caused from muscle spasm.
One of the best things you can do immediately is to get those muscles to relax.
One of the easiest ways to do that is to lie on your back with your knees bent.
In this position, your muscles don't have to work to hold your spine up against gravity. Having your knees bent also puts your spine a neutral position.
Deep Breathing Can Ease Back Pain
Taking some deep breaths using your diaphragm is a great way to relieve pain.
Diaphragmatic breathing relaxes your muscles and releases opioid-like chemical from your brain which are strong pain relievers.
To perform diaphragmatic breathing, make your belly rise as you breath in, and then let your belly fall as you breath out.
As you breath out, that will also activate your deep abdominal muscles which help stabilize your spine.
Repeating this breathing pattern for 5-10 minutes can help relieve pain after throwing your back out.
Stretches For A Thrown Out Back
Spinal bending or spinal flexion exercises are a good way to stretch out your lower back muscles.
One of the best exercises to do it is on all fours if you are able to kneel and just rocking back into a child's pose or prayer stretch.
You shoulder feel a stretch in your lower back muscles. Hold 30seconds - 2 minutes as needed.
Seated Forward Bending Stretch
Once you start feeling a little better, it's a good idea to get your brain over the fear of bending. This is especially true if your back went out when bending forward.
Doing a forward bending stretch in seated is a good way to get back in to the swing of bending without having your spine fully loaded.
You can rest your hands on your knees, ankles, or on the floor to help keep your back muscles relaxed when bending.
Eventually though, you've got to learn how to bend in a standing position though.
How To Bend Without Throwing Out Your Back
If you bend with your trunk way in front of your feet, your lower back muscles have to work really hard to hold the weight of your trunk.
This in turn can put you at risk for throwing your back out again.
Instead, keep your center of gravity over your feet by pushing your hips backwards.
That keeps your center of gravity over your feet, and your back muscles don't have to work very hard.
This movement is called a "hip hinge".
That's because when you bend like this, your hip and butt muscles are doing most of the work, and your back muscles are relaxed.
Just think about "hips back" to bend down, and "hips forward" to stand back up.
But again, that's not the first line treatment that I would do immediately after you've thrown your back out.
So once you've gotten rid of the pain, how do you keep from throwing out your back in the future?
How To Keep From Throwing Out Your Back In The Future
Beyond learning to bend properly, you do want to do some stabilization exercises or core strengthening exercises.
Overall, I think "core strengthening" is largely rather overrated.
It's a buzzword that a lot of people throw around as the solution for all type of back pain.
Most people with chronic back pain don't have weak back muscles.
Rather they're in a sustained muscle spasm that won't let go.
So usually strengthening your back muscles isn't that important. However, strengthening your abdominal muscles can often be helpful if you've thrown your back out.
Rather than tell you how to do that here, suggest you read my post "7 Best Core Strengthening Exercises For Lower Back Pain".
When To See A Physical Therapist
If you have thrown your back out, there's also really good evidence that if you get into a physical therapist within the first two weeks after throwing your back out or having an acute back injury, there's a really good chance of getting better in as few as one or two visits.
This is especially true if you don't have pain, numbness, or tingling in your leg or foot.
If you need some help for back pain, tap the button below to request an appointment with one of our specialist physical therapists.