Sunday, June 27, 2010

Low back pain isn't fun.

Years of gymnastics and cheerleading gave my lower back an attitude problem. It doesn't matter how strong my core is, a single misstep makes me hobble around for a month with one hand on my lower back and the other reaching for support. Though it hasn't happened in a long time, knock on wood, I usually have at least one episode a year. I've seen the specialists, but we've yet to find a cause which is why I've come to the conclusion that my lower back is simply getting (pardon the pun) back at me for all that flipping and twisting I used to do. To fight (pardon the pun again) back, I've had to put a few tips and tricks up my sleeve. Lucky for you, I'm willing to share.

First and foremost, you have to do everything possible to avoid situations that strain your lower back. Especially when you're at the gym. Always make sure that you're lifting an appropriate weight, and that you're removing them from the weight rack with your legs instead of your lower back. In addition, make sure you're executing proper form at all times. To break form is to put serious strain on your lower back. To help you, many gyms keep leather back braces by the heaviest weights. Never hesitate to use them! They'll support you, as will a strong core, hip flexors and hamstrings.

If you know that you're prone to low back pain, there are also a few motions you'll want to avoid. For example, twisting—probably the easiest way to bring on the pain. But if you insist, go slow and steady. Really engage those core muscles and pick lighter weights if you're doing weighted exercises. In addition, you'll want to be especially careful when lifting and lowering your legs while lying on your stomach or your back.

Should pain begin to plague you, cease any activity immediately. Use ice if you can access it. Trust me on this one—rest is best so move slowly until the pain stops. This may take a day or two, but if you push it, you'll end up making it worse. The back is funny in that it harnesses pain from other parts of the body. Sometimes that pain represents more than a simple muscle strain, and you'll want to know if it does. Never hesitate to seek help from a professional.

Stay tuned, I'll post some lower back exercises shortly.

1 comment:

Ray Foucher said...

Yes low back pain is no fun. Who hasn't had it? Aside from lifting carefully which is really important, muscle balance is also very critical and a major item as far as low back pain causes. For example, just sitting for extended periods can cause a shortening of the muscles in front of the hips and a weakening of the gluts and the result is a muscle imbalance. This is frequently the cause of sciatica and other problems.

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