Exercise is a must for getting rid of low back pain. We use what we call “corrective exercises” that are specifically aimed at improving low back function. These exercises range in difficulty from those done in physical therapy to a beginner muscle building program. We take pride in frequently helping people bridge the gap between physical therapy and their fitness workouts. Exercises can help alleviate low back pain by:
I am a firm believer of using dynamic stretches before ALL my personal workouts and for about 80% of my client’s workouts. I find it really helps prepare them for their workout and increases long term flexibility. This is nothing new to the sports and training world. Nearly all sports at various levels have some form of dynamic stretching routine prior to practice or competition. This was not always the case and it wasn’t too long ago that static stretching was the only form of flexibility work done during practice. In the 90s when I grew up playing sports, dynamic stretching was unknown. At least this was the case at the jr. high and high school levels where I lived. It was not until 2005 when I went through physical therapy I was taught these series of movements. They called them mobility exercises. Some may call them functional warm-up drills or movements.
Many people already know the basics of this exercise, but they often lack a few key points in their set up before and during the first rep. Also, proper loading of the dumbbells is very important especially as you start to lift heavier. For some, this information will make all the difference in their chest workouts.
This blog is for those:
“If you don’t touch the bar to your chest your reps don’t count!” Or “You are not doing a REAL bench press”
These are the old high school weight room rules and does not apply any more. Sure, if you are a powerlifter you must touch the bar to your chest to make the lift in competition. Most of us working out in the gym are not powerlifters and have much different goals. Touching the bar to your chest can be very rough on the shoulders especially if you lack the range of motion. Many people can’t even use the bench press because it bothers their shoulders let alone bring it all the way to their end range of motion with heavy weight.
It’s that time of year again!!
Everyone’s motivation is high to get in shape. I say use it and get a jump start on your workouts!
A few tips on your New Year’s fitness plans:
So let's get workin out!
Beginner Workout: Do all exercises in a row for 1 round. Do 4-6 rounds with 1-2 minute rests in between. Longer rests can be taken if needed.
A Hard Workout
If you have lower back issues or had them in the past, then you must take precaution when performing your daily activities and chores. It is important to use proper lifting posture while doing simple things like lifting objects off the ground or in this instance a not so simple task as swinging an axe.
Give it a try and you will find how hard it really is. I was so excited to split wood when I moved back up in the “mountains” some years ago I did it for 4 hours with only minimal breaks. My body was shaking so hard I could barely walk home and I nearly puked.
Why split wood for exercise:
I grew up doing this chore as we needed adequate firewood for the winter and was shown to do so by my father. With that said, I am no expert in lumberjack sports. So there might be a more powerful or faster way to split logs, but this technique is used to save your lower back and utilize your legs. Last I looked there was no log splitting event in competition.
Use these sound concepts:
Set up the log on another larger piece of wood. This will make splitting much more effective and you won’t have to swing as far down reducing the strain on the lower back.
Square up your stance to the log, with your feet shoulder width apart or wider. As with any overhead axe swing, begin with one hand at the end of the handle and other towards the axe head. Keep your back straight the entire time.
Most people have the same needs when it comes to strengthening back muscles. These muscles are typically weak compared to the muscles on the front side of our upper body. This is caused by daily activities that involve a hunched forward position (classic computer posture and almost any seated posture). In addition to consistent poor posture, most of us rarely do a considerable amount of pulling on a regular basis. This calls for the need to implement a back intensive program to your normal workout.
The commonly weak back muscles include the rhomboids, as well as the middle and lower trapezius. In general these muscles are responsible for keeping your shoulders back, down, and/or shoulder blades in proper position. This workout is focused around these muscles to help you become more proportional, symmetric, and have a confident posture.
Exercises and Rationale
Pullups are one of the best exercises because they are very demanding and make for a great general upper body exercise. The latissimus dorsi or “lats“ is the main muscle being worked here. Having strong lats is important, but many people tend to be tight in this muscle. One exercise targeting the lats is enough for most people to keep them strong, while not over working them to where they can become tight. Be sure to stretch your lats as most people are unaware how overly tight they are in this muscle.
It is estimated that 80% of all adults experience low-back pain.(1) For many people poor posture is to blame which can be alleviated with a proper exercise and stretching routine. Even those with intervertebral disk injuries or other diagnosed back conditions will benefit from properly chosen exercises when done correctly.
You may have heard that the gluteus maximus is the largest muscle in the body, but you may not know that it is also one of the most underused muscles. Having strong, well-functioning gluteal muscles (commonly mentioned as “glutes”) is crucial for good posture and those with low back pain. In fact many PROPER injury rehabilitation programs include strengthening the gluteus maximus as well as the other gluteal muscles. Have a bad ankle? Strengthen the glutes. Bad knees? Strengthen the glutes. Bad back? Definitely strengthen the glutes.
Many people have underactive gluteus maximus muscles due to our constant sitting lifestyle. When seated they are placed in a lengthened position. Being that most Americans spend the majority of the day sitting, our glutes are constantly in this lengthened position. This can lead to the glutes being underactive when performing daily activities like walking, squatting, or kneeling to the ground. As a consequence, other muscles will compensate for “lazy” glutes. This along with other compensations can ultimately lead to low back pain.
Gluteus Maximus activation exercise: Floor Bridge
The Dumbbell Row is an exercise that every one of my clients will do at some point in their program. I will have clients perform this exercise once they have a strong enough core and can keep a flat back in this bent over position. It is a great exercise whether you are doing a light 15 rep set or doing a very heavy 3 reps.
Jerry Yuhara, CPT, CES, CMT #75123
4193 El Camino Real
Palo Alto, CA 94306
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