Did you know lower back pain effects 80% of adults
Low back pain is very common, So common, in fact, that 80% of adults will experience at least one episode of lower back pain during their lifetime, and 15 to 30% at any given time.
Most low back pain is not serious and can be resolved with some simple care. The majority of low back injuries will get better on their own with no
intervention within 4-6 weeks. However, if it's a chronic problem, the muscles will begin to atrophy and weaken, making future back injuries more likely to happen. Physical activity is an important part of that care
For most people, your first point of call will be to your doctor. Most doctors will prescribe some form of medication and encourage you to take some time off.
• Paracetamol and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory e.g. ibuprofen
• Muscle relaxants or anti-depressants
• Sometimes used
• Opiates and oral steroids
• Sometimes prescribed, but not for periods longer than 1-3 weeks
In conjunction with the medication prescribed by the doctor, people
will also commonly seek treatment from osteopaths, chiropractors,
physiotherapist, acupuncturists, podiatrists or simply self-manage
themselves, e.g. do nothing
Now it may seem backwards, but resistance training and
strengthening exercises can actually help reduce back pain. Research shows that exercise is more effective than the usual care provided by a doctor for low back pain. However, the point of performing resistance training exercises isn't to bulk up the muscles like a body builder – it is to develop strength,
especially back strength.
The muscles in your back help keep the spine moving as it should
If a person has a weak back or weak abdominal muscles, they could
be more prone to back pain. Strong, healthy back muscles are also important because they're
associated with posture
In some cases, back pain is a result of poor posture
Focusing on strengthening only one part of the body, such as the
back, isn't enough. It's crucial to strengthen other parts of the body too, including the
core and leg muscles. Overall body strength can lead to less back pain and can help a person
perform daily activities better, e.g. lifting.
Always obtain a medical clearance before exercising. Some people will avoid certain activities because of pain,
misconceptions about exercise and fear of re-injury. Progression should be slow, and initial exercise levels kept low. Avoid exercises that provide compression loading of the spine.
There are no specific exercises to target back pain however exercise is good for low back pain - but not all exercises are beneficial. Some exercises can aggravate pain, please see a medical professional for guidance. If pain is more than mild during exercise, a person needs to stop
performing that exercise immediately
Flexion movement ‘don’t do’ exercises
• Sit-ups or any abdominal isolation movement that forces flexion
without co-contraction of the low back muscles
• Spinal rotation movements, like twists and chopping
• Leg press: The body is forced into spinal flexion under load, so it's a no-go
• Standing calf raises and back squats. The direct compression on the discs can be uncomfortable and put even more pressure on the discs.
Flexions movement ‘to do’ exercises
• Glute bridges. This movement makes the glutes sing without placing the spine under any negative loads
• Bodyweight, front or goblet squats. These hit the legs without straining the back, and force the spine to resist being pulled into flexion
• Any type of chin-up, pull-up, or lat pull-down.
• Push-up variations: These will increase the need for spinal stability over bench-presses or dumbbell presses
Extension movement ‘don’t do’ exercises
• Back extensions: This should be obvious, considering the name implies the movement that's causing the problem
• Barbell squats: The spine has to extend, under compression and against a lot of force, to perform the squat.
• Overhead pressing: The spine needs to extend to move the arm overhead
Extension movement ‘to do’ exercises
• One-foot squat & row: This makes a person work a squat pattern and a pull pattern, while keeping their pelvis and
spine in a better alignment than they could ever do by isolating the movements
• Dips: The combined effect of core activation for the pushing movement, plus the added distraction on the spine when you hang your body weight with no force pushing up will make your back thankful.
• Low cable bent-over row: This requires less extension than a true bent over row, and also reduces the sheer force within the vertebrae, so it will help protect your back