Managing a Back Pain Flare Up

by Onward Physical Therapy | February 11, 2020 |
 Low Back
Managing a Back Pain Flare Up

Back pain can be life changing. Whether you have dealt with it for years or are experiencing your first episode a few exercises make a great starting point to getting your back moving and feeling better. At Onward Physical Therapy our team specializes in managing back pain. Here are a few great exercises to start your recovery:

Tips for Reducing Pain & Managing a Back Pain Flare Up

Today we’re going to talk about managing a back pain flare-up. So this is something that’s going to happen to everybody. Unfortunately, what we typically see is, far too often, when somebody flares up their low back, they cut out all activity and they go on bed rest for a period of time, which actually does the opposite of what we want. It’s going to slow down the healing process. 

We want to encourage some gentle, active movement initially when you’re dealing with that flare-up, because it’s going to do two things.

  • Number one, it’s going to help cut down on some of the muscle guarding that’s really limiting your motion.
  • Number two, it’s just going to start pumping a bunch of blood into your low back and that dilutes some of the chemicals that are just sitting in that area, keeping things really irritated.

So gentle, active movement is the key to feeling better when you have that acute flare-up of low back pain, and that’ll get you doing those activities that you want to be done faster, get you back to higher-level things, and start snowballing the effect of getting rid of your pain.

Our Favorite Exercises to Reduce Low Back Pain 

Follow Along with Zach in the Video Above to Learn Exercises


First, we’re going to start with the cat cow. Zach is going to be on hands and knees right here, and he’s going to think about pressing through his arms and pressing his back up towards the ceiling, getting a really nice round throughout the spine here. Then he’s going to reverse that. He’s going to extend his back and the head’s going to come up. And then repeating through that process here, pressing his back up towards the ceiling, then sinking down towards the floor and head comes up. 


Number two is a press up. So Zach’s going to go on his stomach. His hands are going to be in the same position that they would be for a pushup. But everything from the waist down stays on the floor. So Zach’s pressing up through his arms. When he comes up to the very top here, he’s blowing out all of his air. That’s going to increase the stretch on his low back. You can drop back down.

Lumbar Rotation

Number three. Lumbar rotation. So Zach’s going to go on his right side. The bottom leg is going to be straight. The top leg is bent. Now Zach is going to take his top arm here and rotate as far as he can towards his opposite side. Once he feels a stretch through his lower back, he’s going to take a breath in. And then as he blows out, let that sink down to a little bit more stretch on the back here. Go through one more rep, Zach. All the way to the opposite side. Deep breath in, and blow out that air for a increased stretch at the back here. 

Bird Dog

Going back to hands and knees, Zach is going to go out with his right arm, back with his left leg. And he is not just keeping these relaxed here in this position. He’s thinking about pressing his right arm forward and kicking his left leg back. That’s going to activate everything on his posterior chain. His glutes, the muscles in his lower back, and the muscles around his shoulder. He’s going to reverse that. Go to the opposite side. So left arm pressing, right leg kicking out. And repeat that process there. 

Still Need Help with Your Back Pain?

For more advanced movements and your long term solution schedule an appointment today!