Is lower back pain stopping you from exercising or completing your gym program?
In this article we discuss how you can begin to start training around lower back pain.
Research demonstrates that up to 80% of us will experience lower back pain in our lifetime. Furthermore, Low back pain is the leading cause of activity limitation and work absence throughout much of the world, however, it doesn’t have to be.
The lower back is just like any other injury or pain. We can train around it. Furthermore, most evidence suggests that if we remain active and move regularly we recover faster!
Once you are out of acute pain and any red flag signs have been ruled out (pins and needles, numbness, weakness, loss of bladder or bowl control) we need to improve how you move and your tolerance to loading. This means we need to begin a strength program! But where do we start?
Your core or trunk has 3 main functions:
- Transfer energy
- Resist movement
- Stabilise the spine
Each and every muscle of the core has a role to play, but none is more important than the other. For this reason, proper stability training should not focus on one specific muscle.
The three planes of movement that the core musculature works are the:
- Sagittal Plane: forward and backward
- Frontal Plane: side bending
- Transverse Plane: twisting left or right
So to build a strong, resilient lower back we need to train the core to resist movement in these planes of motion.
McGill et al have demonstrated three specific exercises that most efficiently address all of these areas without placing excessive stresses on the parts of the back that may be aggravated or irritated due to injury. That is, they create high muscle loading with low spinal loading. That is definitely a winning combination!
These are the curl up, side plank and bird dog. These exercises often get referred to as 'The Big 3' of core stability. This video does a great job of explaining them.
Furthermore, there is evidence suggesting these exercises increase resilience and work tolerance of the spine for up to a few hours afterward. This makes these ideal as part of your warmup before training, exercising or even work!
by Jeremy Murray