February 1st, 2022
If you have low back pain, you are not alone; in fact, nearly every adult will encounter low back pain (LBP) at some point in their lives, which makes this an important topic of discussion.
Research clearly shows that physical activity is beneficial in the prevention and management of low back pain. Below are answers to common questions that we get when working with our clients as well as some recommended exercises and tips:
What Causes Lower Back Pain?
A lack of physical activity (and extreme amounts of it) is associated with lower back pain. Low physical activity is linked to chronic health problems such as diabetes, obesity, and – you guessed it – low back pain. On the other end of the spectrum, high levels and overexertion from strenuous lifting, improper form and overtraining is also associated with higher risk for LBP.
The most common cause for most adults is the former, because low physical activity causes back muscles to lose tone and weaken, which can aggravate LBP and increase the likelihood for muscular contraction, spasm, and stiffness.
How To Prevent Lower Back Pain
The best way to prevent lower back pain is to find the right amount – and type – of exercise for you, which a doctor or certified personal trainer can help with. The right program will strengthen the supporting musculature which, in turn, will reduce pressure and pain in the low back.
Back Strengthening Exercises
Looking for something you can start doing right now to help with LBP? Though we recommend consulting a professional for a personalized plan, below are three exercises to enhance the strength in your back that will be safe for most people:
Start on all-fours. Raise your left leg straight off the ground, keeping your hips parallel to the floor. To enhance the difficulty of the move, at the same time raise your right arm holding it in line with your shoulder and parallel to the floor. Hold the pose for a count of 4 seconds. Repeat on the right using the right leg and left arm.
2) Side Bridge
Lying on your side, place your right elbow directly under your shoulder, and stack your knees such that your body forms a straight line. Raise your hips towards the ceiling. Hold 4 seconds, release back down to the floor and repeat.
3) Supine Crunch
Laying on your back on the floor with your knees comfortably bent, gently curl your ribcage into your pelvis and feel your abdominals engage in the process. Breathing tip: inhale as you go down and exhale as you go up.
Tips To Reduce Lower Back Pain
1) Sit on a Swiss ball
Excessive sitting, especially with bad posture, can cause or aggravate LBP. Look for any opportunity to stand or walk as opposed to sitting and, when you do need to sit, try sitting on a Swiss ball instead. Make sure it’s firm and full of air (you don’t want it to be bouncy). If you’re sitting at a desk, your seated height should be comparable to a chair, to prevent bending, reaching, or crunching of your shoulders which will cause other problems over time. Work your way up from 20 minutes to a full day.
2) Get Up and Move
Don’t just sit there, move it! Set a goal to get up at least once for every hour of sitting and go for a short walk around the house – or outside if time and weather permits. Take the stairs instead of the elevator. You’ll be surprised how much of a difference these small changes make when done consistently.
3) Engage Your Core
You can- and should – engage your core even when you are not exercising. While still being able to control your breath comfortably, engage your core so it feels like your belly button is pulling in towards your spine. Consciously hold this and make it a goal to hold it for 20 minutes. Do it every day and it will become a habit to help support your spine.
More Support For Your Back
Back exercises alone are usually not enough to prevent low back pain. Aerobic conditioning and strengthening your abdominal and thigh muscles also help support your back. If you are experiencing low back pain, don’t hesitate to reach out to the Nielsen Fitness team, we would be happy to provide a free consultation and assessment at our Toronto studio to determine to the best program to help reduce low back pain through personal training.