Low-back pain is one of the most prevalent and debilitating injuries that people deal with. Depending on where you look, the total amount of people affected fluctuates, but it tends to stick in the ballpark of 60-80% of people will deal with low-back pain at some point in their life. 

Low-back pain can stem from a traumatic event (i.e. a motor vehicle accident), playing a sport, being in the gym, or something as simple as picking up around the house. Another reason can be no reason at all. This would be considered non-specific low back pain.

Regardless of the mechanism, the early stages of what you do when experiencing low-back pain can make all of the difference.

At our performance physical therapy clinic in Green Bay, we feel a lot of low-back pain can be mistreated and made to seem worse than it actually is. We feel so strongly about this, we recorded a whole episode about how we attack low-back pain.


To Get or Not to Get an MRI?

In one of our earlier articles, we outlined an all-too-familiar story. I have personally experienced low-back pain from squatting in the gym, so I feel your pain. 

In most cases, someone hurts their low-back and the first thought is to go see their doctor, who may or may not order an MRI. If you read the article, you will be given $2600 reasons why we wouldn’t recommend doing that (this does not include a serious traumatic event – always use your best judgement). 

If there is no serious pathology suspected, there is really no need to get an x-ray or an MRI. To help explain why, view the below graphic. You will see that MANY people have positive findings in an MRI, but no pain! 


In another article viewing MRI results, these authors found that 32% of their patients not dealing with pain had abnormal findings – meaning they found an issue in their low-back. On the other spectrum, only 47% of their patients dealing with pain had an abnormal finding.

Our Recommendation

Reasons for experiencing low-back pain are many. It can range from soft tissue pain such as muscle, ligaments, and fascia, to a bone-related pathology, like Facet dysfunction, or a neurological issue such as a disc. 

90% of low-back pain seen by a physician is non-specific and can usually be taken care of through conservative care (physical therapy). It’s important that you find someone who takes the time to truly listen to your pain and identifies the cause of your low-back pain, helping you find relief as fast as possible. 

The best thing you can do is stop putting a band-aid on your pain and symptoms, and finally get rid of it.

Where To Start?

Hopefully by now, you understand the importance of seeing a healthcare professional like us that is licensed in evaluating and treating orthopedic injuries, such as low-back pain, prior to seeing a doctor (unless there was a traumatic event). A thorough evaluation must be completed and will provide you with a better understanding of why you are dealing with this pain, along with a structured rehab program tailored to your individual needs. Then, if after the evaluation your physical therapist or athletic trainer feels imaging is necessary, they can appropriately refer.

If you take that $2600 that you were going to use towards an MRI, you could receive 18 visits with us! Finding the true cause and learning how to not only get rid of the pain, but making sure you don’t have to deal with it again is the number one goal.

In the meantime, the below mobility exercises are a great place to start. Follow the videos and listen for the cues!

Hip Hinge

While we stressed the importance properly performing the hip hinge in this article, it is appropriate to include it here as well.

  • Quick and easy self-assessment screen
  • Three points of contact: head, thoracic spine (mid-back), SI Joint
  • Hinge at your hips while maintaining a neutral spine

Cat/Cow Stretch

  • Quick and easy self-assessment screen
  • Three points of contact: head, thoracic spine (mid-back), SI Joint
  • Lose contact at one, complete below exercises

Pelvic Wheel

  • Great for Facet pain (found through proper assessment)
  • Facilitates movement in all three planes of motion
  • Flushes out inflammation, addresses core coordination and lumbo-pelvic mobility

Spinal Rotations

As always, if you are dealing with pain or having a specific issue, please reach out. We would be more than happy to talk with you about your options! 

Looking For More Help?


  1. Non Specific Low Back Pain. (2020, May 10). Physiopedia, . Retrieved 12:07, June 12, 2020 from https://www.physio-pedia.com/index.php?title=Non_Specific_Low_Back_Pain&oldid=237377.
  2. Savage, R. A., Whitehouse, G. H., & Roberts, N. (1997). The relationship between the magnetic resonance imaging appearance of the lumbar spine and low back pain, age and occupation in males. European spine journal : official publication of the European Spine Society, the European Spinal Deformity Society, and the European Section of the Cervical Spine Research Society, 6(2), 106–114. https://doi.org/10.1007/BF01358742

*This is helpful information, but it is general information. This is NOT medical advice. If you already have any injury, pain, tightness, etc., please seek help from a licensed and qualified healthcare provider like us, performance physical therapy in Green Bay. A complete solution for what you’re dealing with needs to be customized to all the different factors driving your pain, and those factors will be at least slightly different for each person. These strategies may help, but they’re not likely to be a complete solution for each individual reading this now or in the future.