At this point I think most of us have either complained about our “sore back” or have heard someone in our life complain about the same. Lower back pain, in particular, is the world’s leading cause of disability and missed work. That alarming fact is making low back pain a hot topic and one that deserves a lot of attention.
The vast majority of low back pain is due to mechanical or non-organic causes. Which basically means that most of the time we have no idea why our back is in pain or what caused it. Often there is no specific injury that we can blame nor was there likely any trauma, it usually just “comes out of nowhere.” Chances are 50/50 that you or someone you know will experience low back pain this year!
Alright, now that I have you attention I’m sure you’re wondering “what can I do to deal with the back pain I currently have?” For those of you who have never experienced low back pain (lucky you) you’re question is probably “what can I do to prevent low back pain from ever getting to me?”
I’m going to break that all down for you right here. Your 4 part routine to controlling your back pain and working towards a life free of back pain:
Step 1 - Be more aware!
Have you ever taken a look at yourself in the mirror and noticed that you like to lean on one side? Is one shoulder higher than the other? Do you like to put all of your weight on one leg? If you answered yes to one of these questions, I know I did, the next question you need to answer is what posture do you assume for the majority of your day? That posture becomes habit and puts pressure on certain parts of your body and less on others. So the solution is BE MORE AWARE.
Step 2 - Create mobility in your spine
You may have hear that the secret to a better back is increasing your core strength. This is definitely true as a more stable core will give your back a better platform to take on life’s challenges. However, stability is half the battle. The other half is making sure your spine is MOBILE.
As much as your core needs to be strong it also needs to be able to move well and move under control. Often our spines are faced with the challenge of having to be put in provocative positions for prolonged periods of time simply due to the realities of day-to-day life. So we have to do more to prepare our spines to be in these compromising positions. The best way to do that is to introduce these positions to your back so when you get in them your brain is aware and comfortable of what these positions look and feel like. That way your brain will be better prepared to set your back up for success.
Here in this video I break down the amazing and underutilized tool being the cat/cow. This drill is an amazing way to mobilize your spine and get better control of your pelvis, which is a huge player in low back pain.
Step 3 - Have a self release routine
There are many muscles that contribute to lower back pain. Tension in many areas of the body can create a lot of overload on the back. There is only so much your lower back can handle, it already has to deal with the stressors of lifting, sitting and standing for prolonged periods. All of these tasks put stress on your back and in the process many muscles start to develop tension and pulls your body into all types of unwanted positions.
Your best way to fight back against tension is to have a couple of self-release tools that you could utilize to alleviate tension your muscles build up. The tensor fascia latae, better known as your TFL, is an important muscle that gets shortened very easily throughout a day of prolonged sitting or even standing.
Here are 2 videos where I breakdown more on this particular muscle and an effective way you could self-release tension in you TFLs and take pressure off of your lower back.
Step 4: Your glute strength is key
Your glute strength and your back pain have a lot in common. The more force you could generate through your glutes the more protection you could offer your back. Usually when we think about glute strength one of the first exercises that comes to mind is the squat. The squat is an amazing way to build glute strength. But with that being said it’s a challenging way to develop glute strength, not to mention if you are currently in low back pain it may aggravate your low back more in the process. So the goal is to strengthen your glutes in easier and less intense ways.
The fire hydrant demonstrated here is an incredible way to increase glute strength and give your lower back more support. Being on all fours is a very safe position for your lower back and allows you to build up glute strength without worrying too much about the complexities of form, foot placement, depth and all of the other variables that come along with squatting and other complicated movements. By no means am I saying don’t squat; I’m saying add more tools to your toolbox when it comes to building glute strength.
There you have it, your 4 part routine to taking control of your back pain. Move well, move often, have a regimen, have patience and know that your battle against low back pain is a life long journey but being equipped with the tools makes the journey that much more enjoyable
- American Chiropractic Association www.acatoday.org/Patients/Heal...
- Vallfors B. Acute, Subacute and Chronic Low Back Pain: Clinical Symptoms, Absenteeism and Working Environment. Scan J Rehab Med Suppl 1985; 11: 1-98.