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Bob Wilcher: Easing the Strain of Back Pain

Key components include weight, core strength and flexibility

Do you suffer from frequent low back pain? Are you frustrated to the point of taking medications to kill the pain?

Bob Wilcher
Bob Wilcher (John Conroy photo /

In my business, I frequently encounter individuals who would answer yes to these questions. Here are a few reasons why you might be having back pain.

A huge factor is being overweight. If you have to support a big gut, then your back takes the brunt of the abuse. The back muscles are constantly being overworked, and eventually more serious problems can occur, such as disc and ligament injuries.

Another big factor is a lack of adequate core strength. The core is basically the midsection and all of the muscles that attach to the hips. These muscles are the foundation for support, and it’s very difficult to avoid low back pain without having them properly trained.

Flexibility is also a very important component. In particular, tight hamstrings are usually the main culprit for low back pain. The hamstrings are the muscles on the back of your upper legs. They go from your buttocks bones to the back of your knee. With tight hamstrings, it’s very difficult to achieve good posture while sitting or squatting. Therefore, a tremendous amount of stress is placed on the back muscles to support the upper body and whatever is being carried.

To stretch the hamstrings, you can lie on your back and raise one leg up in the air, keeping it slightly bent. Use a towel to pull it toward you and keep the hips on the ground. Breathe deep and slow. Just remember that it takes a little time for your muscles to loosen up. I’d recommend holding stretches for at least 20 seconds.

When low back pain occurs frequently, it’s usually referred to as instability, which could mean the ligaments are now lax and don’t hold the joints together as well. I believe all of this can be reversed, and I’ve seen it happen in many people.

Nobody should have to live with horrible back pain, and if you take preventive measures you can probably avoid having to take painkillers, which are a whole new topic.

— Dr. Bob Wilcher is a chiropractor and personal trainer in Santa Barbara. He owns Killer B Fitness, a personal and group training studio at 126 Powers Ave. Contact Wilcher at or 805.448.2222.


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