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If you have lower back pain, you’re not alone. It is estimated that 70 to 90% of people will experience lower back issues in their lives.
Often, we go to the spot itself and try to stretch it which can lead to some short-term relief. But it doesn’t address the underlying issues causing the pain and can make things worse.
As we start to hit our 30s especially in professional roles where sitting for long periods is a constant reality. It becomes even more important to address these issues before they turns into something more serious.
This post will help you in multiple ways. We’ll cover some techniques you can use to get long lasting relief, postural improvements & strength. We’ll also go over some things you may be doing that could be making things worse & cover some causes that may have gotten you here in the first place.
SITTING DOWN FOR LONG PERIODS
This is an unfortunate reality for so many of us in the modern world and may be unavoidable. If you can switch between standing and sitting or get up regularly and walk around this could help. Either way if you have good posture and good movement sitting won’t cause as much of a problem. This will be addressed below.
INCORRECT EXERCISES AND / OR TECHNIQUE
We know that bad form can lead to injuries but what many of us don’t know is that the exercises we choose can cause injury or the worsening of one even if the technique is correct.
If you have a sore back avoid exercises that are quad and hamstring dominant. These areas are possibly already super tight and preventing your glutes from working correctly. Instead, focus on exercises that target your glutes. We will cover release work later which is an important element to this. If glutes are strong but super tight they can cause pain as well. You need to find the balance.
You should also avoid arching your lower back (like how some people do a bench press) or most importantly any exercises where you feel your lower back engaging! If it’s aggravating the area or causing the tightness to increase. You may need to reconsider the exercise
If you have bad posture. This can lead to excess pressure on the lower back. Examples of this are kyphosis or rounded shoulders, neck forward and mostly lordosis which is an excess curve in the lower back. This posture is becoming increasingly common in todays society and is especially evident when you see people standing hunched over their mobile phones.
Correcting these issues will be really important and we recommend checking out www.functionalpatterns.com for excellent free info on postural correction.
We don’t need to go into the specifics of pelvic tilts and shifts but the position your pelvis sits in is a key clue to determine why you’re in pain. If tilted, we can look into tightness in either the quads or the hammies that may be forcing the pelvis into this unnatural position.
If it’s shifting forward we’ll be looking into muscles that aren’t pulling their weight and teach you how to build them up so they better support the structure. (taking the excess load off the lower back).
INACTIVE CORE AND / OR GLUTES
This is a big one and a leading cause of your lower back pain. When your core and glutes aren’t doing their job correctly that work still needs to be done by something. Unfortunately, our lower backs put their hands up for the task when they just have no chance of pulling it off without consequences.
Try doing a single leg squat holding onto a pole or a lunge and see if your glutes are working. Can you get them on or does one side work much better than the other?
If you struggle with this it may be something you should consider working on. Same goes for the core and more importantly the Transverse Abdominus or TVA. If you do sit ups all day this focuses on the rectus abdominus and can make the situation worse.
Keep in mind, lower back pain may be the result of 5 or 6 things happening at once because of each other. Tightness in one spot leads to overactive muscle somewhere which leads to inactive muscle on the opposing side. It can be a complicated process.
We will cover which areas to release later in the post. You can also refer to Functional Patterns for tutorials on how this works or feel free to ask us any questions you have. We also have a few release videos on our Instagram @platinum.health.solutions
things to avoid that can aggravate the lower back
HIGH COMPRESSION EXERCISES
These are exercises that have a heavy load compressing down on the body such as deadlifts, barbell squats and similar exercises. If your lower back is sore, chances are you have issues already with compression and compressing things further won’t help.
If it “only hurts some of the time” or “it only hurts for a while after, so it’s fine” you are making things worse for your back! You may have issues with your running technique or certain muscles aren’t working efficiently or correctly. Either way if there’s pain it’s best to stay away!
QUAD AND HAMSTRING DOMINANT EXERCISES
Lower back problems often stem from something happening in the pelvis which often happens through imbalances in the legs. Really tight quads cause the pelvis to tilt forward leading to lower back issues and tight hamstrings do the same by increasing tension higher up the line.
These exercises also contribute to an inactive glute and that is something you want to avoid if you want to get your back… back!
how to fix it
Building up the core and the glutes is a key starting point to helping your body take the load off your lower back. Great core exercises are planks with the stomach sucked in and cable transverse twists also with the stomach sucked in making sure you keep your hips completely still.
Glute exercises to get you started would be lunges and single leg squats making sure the glutes are working. (that’s the key part!)
Hip flexors, outer hips, (piriformis) quads, ITB, adductors, hamstrings, erector spinae, lats, rectus abdominus to mention the major players, although there could very well be others.
We recommend using a lacrosse ball, foam roller, PVC pipe or hard medicine ball. If you’re unsure what to use, larger muscles like the quads use a med ball or roller. The harder to reach places like the piriformis or hip flexor use a lacrosse ball. Feel free to ask if you need any help.
Keep in mind that busy professionals who sit for long periods will often be tight in the middle area of their bodies. Focus on these areas as a starting point.
STOP AGRAVATING IT!
Pretty easy one here. If it hurts, just stop! You exercise to be healthy. An injury is unhealthy and making one worse is crazy. Take the time you need to recover and address the issue so you can go full steam ahead when you’re ready.
Also, if what you’re doing has aggravated your back in the past. Don’t be in such a rush to fall back into the same habits! It may be time for a change of routine.
Quick disclaimer. These techniques done right work really well. But any attempt at these on your own you do completely at your own risk. Any questions we’re always here to help!
If you have an isolated solution to an integrated problem. You’ll never get the results you’re looking for. You may experience some relief with a stretch here and there, but you’ll keep falling back to the same underlying issues.
The best thing to do, if you live in Brisbane, is to get an exercise and health evaluation where we will go over your history, current exercise routine, muscle function and posture all in the one session.
From there we can paint a clear picture of what needs to be done moving forward.
Lower back pain has many potential causes and the best way to find out is to firstly check posture and then test which muscles are working well and which ones aren’t.
Restoring that balance is what will have you moving like the good old days in no time! Feel free to send us a message with any questions or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.