The steps needed to truly improve the lower back push most people away. They instead waste their time, effort, and money on quick and easy promises. This creates a cycle that siphons away more total energy than starting on the right path.
They ignore exercise, the obvious answer. This demands a new lifestyle though that many lack the will to pursue. The change would make them happier and more productive people in time though.
The causes of lower back pain can be numerous and mysterious. They can occur through one-time events or everyday tasks done poorly over many years. Nerve pressure, herniated discs, or osteoarthritis can all play a role. If you believe your pain comes from a non-muscular issue, then I suggest seeing a medical professional. Sudden and sharp feelings of pain within the spine itself usually indicate such a problem. See an orthopedic surgeon before pursuing these tips.
If your pain improves and worsens over short periods of time, throbs instead of stabs, and resides in soft tissue then the issue likely is muscular. The following tips will help you greatly. They will also help those with non-muscular causes as well but it remains prudent to get evaluated first.
These steps rooted in science are less exciting but will serve you well.
Develop good posture.
Good posture will strengthen the muscles that support the lower back and limit future injury.
- Stand up as tall as possible, as if called to attention by a drill sergeant or a puppeteer pulling on a string attached to the top of your head.
- Pull your shoulder blades back and keep your chest out.
- Keep your hips tilted back as if opening or closing a door with a bump of your butt.
- Look forward and relax your neck.
- To avoid overdoing these steps, make sure you continue to stand tall. If your butt sticks out too much and you pull your shoulder blades back all the way then you will feel shorter.
Focus on one of these tips that works for you. This encourages the others. Keeping the chest up also pulls back the shoulder blades for example.
You may need to lose weight. Too much bodyweight will burden the postural muscles. Eat fewer calories if you are too fat.
Clients look to me for posture exercises. These are not needed. They get enough work through a basic lifting routine.
Perfect posture at all times is unnecessary. Moving in and out of good posture allows fluid transfers throughout the spine. This removes waste products and allows nutrients to flow in. Make sure you keep good posture when lifting though.
Develop a complete routine.
The body functions as a unit and not as separate pieces.
- Trainees with tight hamstrings often walk around hunched over at the back.
- Those with weak upper back muscles fail to pull back the shoulder blades and hunch forward as well.
- Those with weak knees shift their bodyweight and can twist at the waist and harm their backs.
Addressing only the core muscles is a big mistake. A weakness elsewhere can indirectly affect the lower back. Make sure you develop a routine that addresses all the major muscles. You only need three exercises to accomplish this goal.
Most stretching fails to help with some lower back issues. It may even aggravate lower back pain. Muscular issues usually improve with light activity through a range of motion,
A thin sheath of tissue known as the fascia covers all our muscles and interconnects them. This explains how muscles can affect one another. Their tightness can make other muscles nearby feel tight, so training the whole body helps.
Avoid poor core exercises.
Avoid any exercise that moves the spine under a load. Flexion and extension of the spine increases the risk of disc herniation, pars, and other problems. Movement at the spine developed to allow changes in position and not to handle heavy weights.
- leg raises
- any twisting.
Use exercises that involve holding positions and preventing movement with the core. These match our natural functions.
Performing well as an athlete may create lower back issues. Extreme flexibility harms the spine. This often affects gymnasts and even those that practice yoga. They force the spine to the limits of its range of motion. Engage in core stabilization if even needed instead.
Use good lifting mechanics.
- Move loads in straight paths up and down.
- Hold any load near your body.
- Lift with your legs.
- Brace your abs but avoid sucking in your stomach.
- Avoid twisting.
- Sticking out your butt when you squat down is actually good form. Keep in mind that the lower back attaches to your hips. Trainees often confuse hip extension with a poor back position.
- Do not lift after long periods of slouching. The spine is weak afterward. Warm-up first.
Do not train heavily within an hour of rising from bed.
The discs of the spine hold fluid in the mornings due to inactivity overnight. This makes the tissue malleable. Wait at least an hour or two before heavy training.
Breathe naturally when lifting.
Ignore the usual advice to inhale while lowering a weight and to exhale while lifting. This pattern allows too much relaxation and fails to keep the core tight. Holding your breath as needed is the safest method.
Choose the Long-Term Approach for your Lower Back
The best time to plant a tree is twenty years ago, the second best time is now. Someone’s sitting in the shade today because someone planted a tree.
Many seek quick fixes to cure lower back pain and discomfort overnight. They pursue unproven chiropractic treatments and herbal remedies. Humans have a tendency toward belief in shortcuts instead of applying good but basic info. Plant the tree with these tips and overcome your lower back issues.