Osteoarthritis (OA) of the spine (or back) is caused when the joints and discs in the neck and lower back degenerate. It can cause stiffness and pain in the back and is usually worse in the morning and at night. See Doctor Jo’s blog post about this at: http://www.askdoctorjo.com/osteoarthritis-spine
These stretches and exercises should help with the osteoarthritis pain in your back.
The first stretch is called the pelvic tilt. You will roll back onto your back with your knees bent. You want to imagine pushing your belly button into the ground, or push your back flat onto the ground like you are squishing something. You can put your hand under the curve of your back, and try to push your back into your hand. Hold these for about 3-5 seconds.
Now you will do a figure four stretch. Cross your foot over onto the thigh of your other leg into a figure four position. Grab the leg on the ground underneath the thigh, and pull your leg toward your chest. Hold this stretch for 30 seconds, and do three on each side.
Then you will do a single knee to chest stretch, bend one knee and bring your leg up to your chest as far as you comfortably can. Hold this for 30 seconds and do it three times on each side.
The next stretch is a child’s pose stretch. Turn over onto your knees and sit back onto your feet. Put your arms out in front of you on the ground and stretch them forward reaching in front of you. Hold for 30 seconds and do them three times. If it is comfortable, you can hold them longer than 30 seconds.
Get on your stomach in prone. This will help you stretch your spine into extension. You can prop up on your elbows and hold it for a few minutes.
Now go up on your hands and knees in a quadruped position or all fours. Try to keep your back straight like a tabletop, and try to keep your neck in a neutral position so you don’t strain anything. Now lift your opposite arm and leg and the same time. Some people call this the bird dog exercise. Start off with 10 on each side.
The final set of exercises are going to be planks. Start with a plank on your elbows. You can do this modified with your knees bent and on the ground, or you can get into a full plank position. Make sure your elbow lines up with your shoulder, and that your body is in a straight line. Hold this for about 20-30 seconds, and work your way up to a minute. Finally you are going to lie on your side with the side you want to strength on the ground. Try to get your body in a straight line, and place your elbow on the ground just below your shoulder. Come up into a side plank. Hold it for 15-20 seconds, and work your way up to a minute. If this is too hard, you can start the side plank on your knees.
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Doctor Jo is a Doctor of Physical Therapy.
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