LOW BACK PAIN – CAUSES, PREVENTION
Low back pain – it is one of those catch all phrases that can be used to describe any numer of afflictions associated with lower back pain or tightness. It seems almost everyone you talk to has now or has had some issues with their lower back. The good news is that so much of the general discomfort to actual pain and sciatia can in a lot of cases be easily resolved with a properly structured stretching program as well as proper core training and understanding of mobility vs flexibility.
Some causes of low back pain can be:
* Can have many causes; aside from specific injuries
* Sitting for long periods = weak glutes, tight hip flexors
* Pelvic misalignment (usually d/t tight hip flexors)
* Reduced hip mobility = too much lumbar mobility = back pain
* Reduced thoracic mobility = too much lumbar mobility = back pain
* Get up and move!
* Increase glute strength
* Increase hip and thoracic spine mobility
* Stretch hip flexor muscles, hamstrings
* Develop core strength and stability
The Core – Just What Is It?
* The core refers to the foundation for the arms and legs (basically the trunk front and back)
* The core supports the body’s vital organs and systems and is the protection for the central nervous system. The functions provided by the abdominal wall are joint stability, visceral support, respiratory support, circulatory/immune system support and digestion/elimination system support.
* Are key stabilizers for the core
* Along with muscles of the back (upper and lower); serve to protect the spinal cord and provide stability in movements of our daily lives.
The primary function of the abdominal muscles is to provide isometric support and limit the degree of rotation of the trunk. Because the lumbar spine is not intended to rotate, a large percentage of back problems occur because the abdominal muscles are not keeping a tight control over the rotation between the pelvis and the spine.
In other words, the abdominal muscles are there for support, not to flex. They are there to restrict rotation of the lumbar spine (lower back). The job is isometric in nature (without movement).
THE “AB” CRAZE
It seems everywhere you look the world is ab crazy! How many different gadgets on the shopping channel do you see? How many books or articles are devoted entirely to “ab training”. How many aerobic classes are “gut busting classes”? Everyone seems preoccupied with abs, but very few people really know what this important musculature involves and how to train it effectively so it is able to perform its very important functions
Crunches, leg raises, sit-ups commonly used in abdominal training today are not the most effective at providing the stability for the core.
THE MOST EFFECTIVE CORE/AB EXERCISES:
Working hard in the gym with planks, side planks, bridges, chopping movements as well as all the core training exercises such as lunges, squats, OH squats combined with a sensible diet will give you that six pack without the risk of disc injury associated with crunches and situps.
Overdoing crunches will overwork the Rectus Abdominis and lead to muscles imbalances and predispose you to injury. So, #1 – stop with all the crunches.
Practice a daily stretching regime incorporating stretches for hip flexors, hamstrings, glutes as well as foam rolling will go a long way to alleviating the nagging ache of a sore low back. Combine that with a well planned and structured strength training program incoporating intelligent core work and you have a plan to do away with low back pain.
Till next time,
“Monitoring, Mentoring, Motivation”