Doing exercise rehab for low back pain..

Fat Workout Lady Isolated on WhiteI started an exercise rehab program for low back pain a few weeks ago.

Because of that, I’ve needed all the patience I can muster to stick to the program. Both things make it very relevant to my happiness project and especially two of my September resolutions – “Get relief from pain” and “Act enthusiastic”.

I started the program because I had a nagging pain in my low back that didn’t go away, on top of my usual neck and shoulder pains.  I guess I was finally sane (or mad)  enough to stop ignoring my pains and aches and decided it’s time to go to the roots of my problem instead. 🙂

Because I’m definitely not able to design a corrective exercise program myself, I found a low back rehab program called S.M.S Low Back Program from the guys who designed the H.E.M Ankle Rehab program I used two years ago to heal my sprained ankle (I haven’t sprained my ankle even once after that, which is pretty amazing because I used to be a habitual ankle sprainer).

Scott Malin designed three programs that fix the underlying posture distortions that are usually at the root of low back pain. It means it strengthens  and activates the weak and underused muscles and stretch/relax the tight and overused muscles. Because I have a classic kyphotic posture, I follow an exercise rehab program to fix kyphotic posture.


Where does the need for patience come from?

Well, it usually takes me at least 1,5 hours to go through the program and there are no fun and challenging moves like there is in Rachel Cosgrove’s FBB program (which takes max one hour for me to complete, usually 45 minutes) that I used to follow.

The SMS Low Back Program starts with 20 minutes of foam rolling to work away the kinks in the muscles. After that I do a set of dynamic stretches, which usually takes me at least another 20 minutes, so it takes me almost 45 minutes to get to the actual strengthening exercises. 🙂

working on adductor magnus

Working the kinks on adductor magnus

The strengthening exercises aren’t anything special. I’ve done many of them as part of other programs – there are several exercises to strengthen the glutes (like clams, wall sits etc) and the core (superman and planks), and exercises to strengthen the upper back (pulls etc). Does the program stop there? Nope. After the exercises it’s time to finish with static stretches. 🙂

The funny thing is that I’m almost as sweaty as I am when I do Cosgrove’s FBB program, which involves lots of dynamic exercises, jumps etc.

So, even though I’ve managed to stick to the program so far I haven’t been exactly enthusiastic about it. Because of my resolution to act more enthusiastic,  I paid particular attention to what was going through my mind the last time I did it.

Sure enough, about every other thought that crossed my mind was something like this:  “This is so boring and takes way too much time”, “Oh no, not one of those adductor stretches again, I hate them”. Thinking like that certainly doesn’t contribute to the experience. So now I’ve resolved to pay more attention to my actual sensations and experience of doing the exercises from now on.

I’m pretty sure that if I stick to it, I might even be able to transform my experience of the program. The same way I have learned to enjoy many exercises I first hated.


The problem isn’t that the program doesn’t work. It seems to work very well.

I can feel how much better aligned my knees, hips and upper back are after even a single workout (thanks to diligent foam rolling that works out the muscle kinks). So if I stick to the program long enough (several months I think), I might get rid of the pains in low back and also in my upper back and neck.

Another thing I hope this program helps me with is my inability to do push ups and other exercises that put a lot of load on the muscles of my upper back. Merely muscling my way through strength training programs hasn’t been enough to accomplish that.