How can I rehabilitate a strain of the back's erector spinae muscles?

The erector spinae muscles in the low back are very important to maintaining good posture. These muscles are often injured as a result of repetitive lifting with faulty posture. Stretching and strengthening these muscles will help them heal from a strain. Specific stretches that can be performed are pulling both knees to the chest while lying on the back, arching the back while on hands and knees, and then letting the back slump while on hands and knees. These stretches will target the erector spinae and several other muscles in the low back that assist in posture. Strengthening exercises for the erector spinae muscles can include back extensions (laying on the stomach with the hands behind the head, lifting the head and chest from the floor), and side bends (holding a hand weight in the right hand, lean toward the right, then contracting the muscles of the back and side, pull yourself back to an upright position). You can ice the area after exercise if you wish. All exercises should be pain free.

This answer provided for NATA by the King College Athletic Training Education Program.

Dr. Philip S. Kim, MD
Pain Medicine Specialist

The best way is with physical therapy with emphasis on McKenzie exercises, isometric and isokinetic exercises. Heat applied may allow improved blood flow to muscles to allow faster healing. A TENS (Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation) unit may also be of benefit.

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