While working with the general population for over 7 years, I have come to realize how many people suffer from lower back pain (mild to more chronic cases) and unfortunately, many times it isn’t always pinpointed as to what has caused it directly or indirectly. Come to find out, lower back pain can stem from other parts of the body, bad posture, direct damage to the back, being overweight or obesity, poor form during exercises, accidents, etc. Most clients I have worked with, have no answer as to what causes the pain and sometimes I find the worst pain happens during any and all exercises — in turn hindering their progress or deterring them from trying an exercise because they are scared of anything that could possibly trigger back pain or discomfort. It isn’t always easy to work around but with patience, support and understanding of the situation, I have found ways to help clients manage their lower back pain and/or have had a client or two not experience back pain anymore.
One of the many things I like to emphasize to clients with lower back pain is stretching the back and being gentle but keeping it warmed up and following through with daily stretches that give it comfort.
Secondly, practicing good posture. Something we lack as Americans because we work at a desk job for long hours, or have made a habit of our poor posture choices, and so it will take practice, and body awareness and the willingness to change in order to form a new habit.
Thirdly, foam rolling (I will talk about this in detail in a separate post) but foam rolling is awesome and while it does “hurt”, it works wonders and again will take practice, proper learning of how to use the tool and some time out of your day or workout to actually do it.
Focusing on exercises that both strengthen the back and strengthen the core/abdominal region. Both very important in terms of everyday activities and longevity. I don’t mean for you to do crunches everyday — (all exercises need good posture, and utilize the core) but make it more intentional when doing exercises to tighten the core & use good posture– all the while maintaining strength in all other parts of your body.
Glutes! yes, strengthening your glutes will help with back pain as well and also just in general, glutes are important because weak glute muscles can cause other muscles to overcompensate (thus causing imbalances). I don’t necessarily mean doing 100 back squats, I mean try some small bodyweight movements (glute bridges, hip thrust, donkey kicks…+ more! ) stuff that can be done at home or with a trainer. strong glutes are vital — I will talk more this in the foreseeable future.
Physical therapy — I know many people complain about how sometimes it doesn’t help or they don’t feel any better from it when it comes to their lower back pain. Some have told me they felt worse after taking physical therapy for lower back pain. I personally enjoy watching physical therapist and like the rehab portion of fitness and believe in physical therapy but like many things in life, it might not be for everyone and what you do in the clinic, should be done at home to maintain that strength and functionality. I don’t say spend thousands of dollars on physical therapy but if not going is a choice you are making, that is fine, I am not judging you by any means (I am lucky I never have had to endure physical therapy yet) and I realize sometimes it can be painful — so, do some research or perhaps talk to a trainer at a gym, still find ways to stay active and manage your health, don’t give up just because physical therapy isn’t making you feel 100 percent; remember they are human and some physical therapist are better than others in their scope of training and specializations.
Those are just a few things I have had work for my clients, but remember everyone is different and lower back pain is different for each individual. What might work for one, may not work for another, I consider everything before making a huge decision. If you are someone in the profession of physical therapy or someone with a degree in exercise science or any of the sciences that revolve around health/fitness/wellness, please feel free to leave comments and share your take on lower back pain and how you have managed to help others who suffer from lower back pain. I love being able to get views from all sides of the health profession.