Ever finished a workout and thought, “whoa, my back is gonna feel that later”? Or you’re sitting there at the end of another workout, wondering what could have caused that nagging tightness in your lower back? You’re not the only one. Low back pain is considered the human condition with approximately 80% of westerners experiencing low back pain. While you are likely to experience some low back pain in your lifetime, it is how you respond to it that makes all the difference. While your primary care physician means well by telling you to rest and take it easy for a few weeks, this information is not only outdated, but could leave you at risk for increased lower back pain and injury; not to mention limiting your progress. Unfortunately, this advice usually is followed by an order for an x-ray or MRI, which may show a lot of scary things like degenerative joint disease, arthritis, and bulging disc, oh my! 30% of 20 year olds have a “bulging disc” on imaging, while 80% of 50 years olds have degenerative disc disease, and these results are based on the images of people who reported NO LOWER BACK PAIN. Welcome to living; arthritic changes are a normal part of the aging process and they start early, it does not define you. You are not your image. As long as you don’t have a history of cancer or aren’t experiencing changes in sensation, numbness/tingling, involuntary movements, or changes in bowel and bladder function, save yourself the trip to the PCP or orthopedist for muscle relaxers, imaging, and advice from someone who may not regularly lift weights.
96% of lower back pain episodes are preventable. Your lower back pain is the product of the way you move, or don’t move. Let’s repeat, lower back pain is the product of the way you move, or don’t move. That’s the best news ever. Why, you ask? Because that means you are in control of your pain. The goal of the posts in this low back pain series is to provide you with a few self-check and management strategies to compliment your workouts allowing your to improve the quality of your lifts and ultimately your lifestyle.
Realize you all are unique and so is your low back pain, but typically, in the athlete, pain is either flexion based or extension based. Meaning, I have pain when my spine rounds or flexes, such as in child’s pose, or I have pain when my spine extends, such as during a prone press up. This pain can be the result of multiple factors, but I’ll provide you strategies for the 3 most common faults I treat on a daily basis.
Find Neutral: Mobility is a hot topic these days, however, the number one correction you can make regardless of your anatomical structure is creating bulletproof stability around a neutral spine. I could give you mobility upon mobility drill, but if you cannot find neutral and cannot create a stable trunk it will all be for not. What is neutral spine? Take a piece of PVC or a broomstick handle and hold it behind your back with 1 hand in the small of your back and 1 hand overhead. Get the PVC or stick to touch the back of your head, between your shoulder blades, and your sacrum. How? Imagine Shaun or Karen is about to give you a gut check: Pull your ribcage to your pelvis and squeeze your butt. There should only be a couple of finger widths space between your lower back and the PVC. Now that you know where you’re supposed to be you can recreate this position for your lifts and core work. This position is non-negotiable and while deadlifts get a lot of bad press regarding back injuries, you should be able to find this position no matter if you are standing or lying down. Check back for the next posts with exercise prescriptions to build strength around this position.
Own your movement. Build your resiliency. Warrior Rx
See more from Dr. Bird by visiting her website: Warrior Rx