Back Pain Prevention
Are you experiencing chronic back pain? Here are some helpful suggestions for back pain prevention. Exercising is one of the last things most people want to do. However, the right exercises can help relieve pain and treat the underlying causes of back pain, including weaknesses in the core, glutes and spinal alignment. According to a 2016 systematic review published in the journal Healthcare, the effects of exercise on chronic lower back pain lessened within weeks of proper exercises performed. That said, even great core, leg and back strengthening movements – if performed incorrectly for your body – can exacerbate lower back pain.
You can modify common exercises to avoid workout back pain, strengthen the muscles supporting your back and mitigate lower back pain and discomfort.
Exercises to Alleviate Back Pain
Here are some suggestions and modifications you can do at the gym or at home. If you are experiencing any sharp pain do not proceed and get further back pain treatment from your Chiropractor first.
Deadlifts are one of the best exercises you can do to strengthen your back. However, many people perform them without having first mastered how to perform hip flexion and extension. "Instead of hinging at the hips, many exercisers bend at the waist when lowering the weight toward the floor," explains Jeff Monaco, a certified strength and conditioning specialist, corrective exercise specialist and national education manager for Gold's Gym. "Then to lift the weight back up to the starting position, they engage their low back muscles to straighten their torso instead of using their hamstrings and gluteals to extend their hips. This causes a great deal of stress on the low back muscles."
Modification: Cable Pull Throughs
This deadlift variation teaches how to hinge and extend at the hips, but without loading the spine to reduce the risk of pressure in the lower back, even when form slips. To complete the exercise, attach a rope handle to the bottom setting of a cable machine, hold an end in each hand and stand in front of the machine. Face away from the machine, so there is tension in the cable and the attachment is between your legs in front of your pelvis. Brace your core. Push your hips back and allow a slight bend in your knees so that your arms extend through your legs behind you and your torso tips forward. Press through your heels and drive your hips forward to stand back up. Remember: All movement should come from your hips.
A variety of squat variations, including bodyweight squats, can trigger lower back pain when performed with anterior pelvic tilt, meaning the top front of the pelvis tilts down, forming an excessive curve in the lower back, explains David Reavy, a physical therapist and founder of React Physical Therapy in Chicago. While this pelvic position puts weight on the lower back, it also makes the torso more apt to shoot forward while squatting, further increasing the possibility of excess stress on the tissues surrounding the lumbar spine, Monaco says.
Modification: Stability Ball Squats
Performing squats with an upright torso and your feet extended far out in front of your body can help eliminate the possibility of anterior pelvic tilt while keeping your torso upright. Focus on keeping your back flat as opposed to wrapping it around the ball. After you master this movement, try performing stability ball squats while holding a dumbbell against your chest. To complete the movement, hold a stability ball between yourself and a wall against the top of your hips, and step your feet forward to ensure they are hip- and shoulder-width apart. Brace your core. Bend your knees and drop straight toward the floor as far as you comfortably can, letting the ball roll its way up to your shoulders. Pause, then push through your heels to return to a standing position, letting the ball roll back to your hips.
"Lunges are similar to squats in that they use primarily the big muscles in the legs and require the abdominal and low-back muscles to stabilize the upper body during the movement," Monaco says. However, the lunge requires even more core stability due to its single-leg nature. "Many exercisers tend to move forward on the upward phase of the lunge exercise, which increases the stress on the low back muscles," he adds.
Modification: Reverse Lunge Slides
Strengthen the glutes, hamstrings, and quadriceps – all of which connect to and help stabilize the pelvis – while avoiding any forward movement and stress to the back. Once you cement this movement and can perform it without holding a sturdy object for support, you can begin to integrate unassisted reverse lunges into your routine. Start the exercise by standing tall with one foot flat on the floor and the ball of the other foot on top of a glider. Alternatively, you can use a towel, paper plate or anything that will easily slide against the floor with minimal friction. Hold a sturdy object in front of you with both hands for stability. Brace your core. Slide your lifted foot straight behind you, bending your front knee as you do so to lower into a lunge. Push through your front heel, making sure to keep your front knee stationary throughout the movement.
"Planks are great exercises to strengthen the deep core muscles when performed properly," Monaco says. "However, many exercisers lack the core strength to maintain proper formduring of these exercises. It is very important that exercisers maintain a neutral spine and do not let their hips sag. When the hips sag, this increases the stress on the low back muscles that are trying to keep the spine straight. This exacerbates the back pain the exerciser is already experiencing."
Modification: RKC Plank Pulses
Unless you are actively contracting your glutes, the lower back will sag during planks. This variation prioritizes generating tension through the entire body to decrease the risk of muscle compensations. As an added bonus, holding a plank properly will strengthen your core far more so than will hanging in planks for time.
It's always goo to warm up your back so can view these exercises here.