Every individual in their “training career” will experience low back pain. Whether you are tactical based athlete, super mom, or an ex-athlete, you will undoubtedly experience the awful 3-word phrase, “Low Back Pain”.
The primary cause of low back pain is a result of a weak core, weak posterior chain, or injury. I believe that most individuals tend to shy away from the problem once it arises.
This is where the issue can get WORSE.
Don’t let another day go by – avoiding everything you should be doing to address the issue. The solutions are simple. A combination of proper coaching, change of exercise execution, traction, and specific strengthening methods will do the trick.
#1 Proper Coaching
Too many times I see coaches letting their clients get away with poor movement patterns while performing exercises. If your current coach or trainer is not paying attention to the way you execute your movements – I think its time to find a more qualified coach.
Furthermore, you must be willing to be “coached”. We are only trying to help you improve and stay safe. If you fail to adhere to your coach, you are only hurting yourself in the long haul.
At Varsity House Gym, I pride myself on ensuring our team members get the best quality service by getting fit in a safe manner no matter your training goals.
#2 Challenge Positions
It is human nature to stray away from a movement that we feel brings us pain. You begin to squat “my low back hurts - I hate squats”
If I had a dollar for every time I heard that…
I like to break movements down and find at what point does that specific movement bring you pain. For example, some people find their low backs to hurt when they perform a glute bridge.
I like to have people perform glute bridges with knees only slightly bent and holding for 15-20 seconds to show them “what to feel” during the movement.
These are best used in specific warm up or as accessory. I tend to keep the volume higher than the intensity by having people perform only 2 sets of 20 reps to really “feel it”.
Lastly, paused reps will also allow you to “feel” the muscles you are trying to utilize.
I use these in all of our V-Fit Warm Ups as a tool to asses and prepare everyone for our training session.
The most UNDERUTILIZED method in alleviating low back is as simple as hanging from a pull up bar. This can decompress the spine and may allow for less obstructed blood flow.
I don’t recommend you walk into the gym and hop up on a pull up bar. I believe this is best done after you perform a thorough aerobic warm up to get the blood flowing.
I recommend you perform 1-2 sets at most for 30 seconds. Make sure you exhale at the bottom and let your body settle into the new elongated position.
#4 Strength Training
It amazes me how people will neglect “getting stronger” as a means to protect themselves from injury. If your body is stronger, it is less susceptible to injury.
That’s like saying “I need to pay the bills I have no money – but I don’t need to make anymore. I just need to continue what I’m doing.”
Strength should always be a part of the solution. Chronic stress is an adaptation. Chronic adaptation is evolution. Lets all evolve.
Below is a list of my favorite machines for fixing lower back issues and in my opinion their pros and cons as well.
Exercise #1 The 45-Degree Hyperextension
Easiest to teach/coach and good assessment tool
Good starting point to understand hamstrings
Still requires adequate coaching for efficacy
Most advanced un-weighted, partial range of motion
How to Apply: 45-degree Hyperextension
When used a specific warm-up: un-weighted 3 x 10-15
When used a strength accessory: weighted or un-weighted 3 x 10-15
Exercise #2: Reverse Hyperextension
The reverse hyper is a phenomenal tool, but is commonly misused
- 2 main uses strengthening of lower back; all demographics
- Traction- primarily for advanced gym goers and athletes
- Lowest amount of sheer-torque on an individual
- According to EMG outputs, the Reverse Hyper is better for lumbar muscle endurance. Which is very important if you want to be able to make it through a full v-fit class.
Reverse Hyperextension- Applications
When used in warm ups: body-weight only 3 x 15-20
When used as strength accessory: 30-40% of squat 1 rep max, no momentum, 4 x 10-15
When used a rehab traction tool: Advanced gym-goers and athletes should only use about 40+% of squat 1rep max, use breaking on the pendulum down swing, 4 x 10-20 reps, use after spinal compressive activities, deadlifts, squats, running
The lower back CAN be susceptible to injury if you do not follow the above protocols for long term training success.
(Sarge) Sean Mathis