If there is something almost all of the adult population will have in common at some point in their lives it's low back pain. This can be as minor as a tightness and restriction in full range of motion to extreme pain necessitating specialized care and treatment. Since it is such a common problem for so many here are a few things to keep in mind for a strong, healthy and pain-free back.
- Keep your hips mobile - Whether it be at a desk, at school or work, in the car or relaxing in front of the tv we tend to sit too much. Add to that many of the machines in our gyms put us in a seated position and we can see the imbalance this creates with our bodies. Look to incorporate more standing positions throughout the day to relax the hips and strengthen the glutes.
- Extend as well as flex the trunk. We tend to bend forward at the waist (flex) whenever we reach for something off the floor, perform a sit-up or anything else then flexes the hip. Part of the function of our core is to resist forward bending or flexion so look to add some extension and core stability exercises to keep everything in balance.
- Avoid sustained postures for extended periods of time. The healthiest backs are the ones that have mobile bodies. Try to keep moving and change positions frequently.
- Stay hydrated. We don't tend to think of drinking water as being related to low back pain but a large cause of joint injury is dehydration. Drinking a little bit more water allows the connective tissues to have optimal cushioning capacity and allows joints to glide more freely with less friction.
- Move in all 3 planes. This one applies mostly to our workouts at the gym but pay attention to how many of your exercises are performed forward and back (i.e. the sagittal plane), side to side (i.e. the frontal plane) and rotationally (i.e. the transverse plane). If you are like most gym-goers you will notice that as much as 90-95% of your workout is in the sagittal plane. If this is the case challenge yourself to do the same basic exercise in one of the other two planes the next time you workout.
Look to incorporate these 5 tips into your workouts to enhance your progress while stabilizing your low back.
All the best.