How to Protect your Lower Back by Mandy

Back pain is one of the most common human ailments, affecting an estimated four out of five people at some point in their lives.  Over 75 million people have back problems, including 2 million who suffer chronic pain and over 8 million new cases a year.  Since a back problem can permanently affect your participation in working out, preventive measures are of the utmost importance.

Sadly, I became one of the these statistics this past March.  While carrying a 15 month old baby down a flight of stairs something tweaked in my back rendering me immobile for days and retriggered after strenuous workouts.  It was time to see the doctor.  After a dose of steroids to stop the inflammation and weeks of physical therapy, I am just now beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel.  Physical therapy effectively worked to relieve pain, gain mobility and recognize my personal strengths and weaknesses.  Having been through the gamut with dealing with my own back pain, here’s some friendly information and advice to help you protect your lower back!

I learned through PT that our neuro-muscular-skeletal system is delicately balanced and interconnected.  When a muscle is too weak or even too strong, it places abnormal stress on another muscle.  The muscle that is stressed will compensate for a while, but eventually it will begin to hurt.  For this reason, it’s important to follow an intelligent, balanced strength training program like the one at Power Sculpt Fitness.  Otherwise, favoring the development of certain muscles over others can start a chain reaction of pain and imbalance in your body.

Training Without Straining.  There is nothing more important to the health of your back than exercise. Exercise strengthens and stretches back muscles, lubricates facet joints, and feeds the disks. The appropriate back exercise routine performed regularly and correctly is the best gift you can give your back.  When training always remember to focus on form above all else.  Less reps done with better form is oftentimes more effective.  Don’t be afraid to opt for less weight or slower repetitions to keep your form perfect.  Listen to your body!

*Continue to practice the perfect squat!  At Power Sculpt we do a great deal of squatting with weights, but don’t forget about the squatting you do at home while lifting children and that giant Costco purchase from the car.

Position yourself over the object, with your feet about shoulder-width apart. Try to get the object between your legs, when possible, so that you don’t have to reach out for it. Squat down, keeping your head up, shoulders back, and spine erect. The bending should come only from your hips, knees, and ankles. Next, get a good hold on the object, and finally, lift the object with your head up. Use your legs to lift. Your leg muscles are the biggest, strongest muscles in your body, and even though it takes more energy to use them, they can handle a lift better than your back can. Keep the object close to your body; lifting or holding an object up close to your stomach rather than at arm’s length greatly reduces the stress on your back and spine. Remember that what goes up must come down, so set the object down using the same technique you used to lift it.

Strengthening the abdominals can help prevent lower back pain.  One of the chief causes of lower back pain is weak abdominal muscles.  The abdominals hold the lower torso and if they are weak, the back muscles will be forced into strainful positions and efforts.  

Tips for Daily Living.  Many female bodybuilders are cautious in the gym, but forget to take care of their backs during their day-to-day activities.  Remember, the rules for weightlifting also apply to lifting groceries, children or anything else.  It’s not the weight that’s dangerous, it’s lifting it the wrong way.  So stay aware of your body at all times.

Have Good Posture.  Posture plays a vital role in maintaining a healthy back.  Stand straight, with your stomach muscles firm and your buttocks tucked in.  Don’t way your back or let a curve develop in the lumbar region.  Also, try not to sink into one hip or the other.  Good posture will not only save your back, it will also make you look much more attractive and fit.

Avoid Prolonged Sitting.  Sitting is more stressful to the back than standing, so if you have a sedentary job, get up and move around often.  Make sure you have a chair that has adjustable height, so you can sit with your feet flat on the floor and your knees slightly higher than your hips.  Your chair should be firm, but not totally hard, with armrests and tilt-and-swivel mechanisms.

Deep Thoughts By: Mandy Yuille

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