A Logical Approach to Preventing and Treating Low Back Pain

A Logical Approach to Preventing and Treating Low Back Pain

When dealing with low back pain, it is essential that you learn how to get into correct spinal alignment and how to stay there through good movement practices.  

    • Often, people have no idea of how to get into correct spinal alignment and don’t have proper control of the movements in their lower back and pelvis.  
    • “Body awareness” exercises can help train you how to move the body into improved  alignment and can serve as a pre-requisite to posture training was well as core strengthening.  
    • Discover Body Awareness exercises by clicking HERE.

Learn to correct your posture.

    • Correct spinal alignment and good posture are the same thing.  
    • Faulty posture can lead to a multitude of injuries.  Below are some examples.    
    • Being rounded forward:
      • If for example your middle back is excessively rounded forward, you will compensate by over extending your lower back to make low back compression and pain.  
      • In addition, being excessively rounded in the spine may also have the negative of effect vertebra slipping forward over another to cause pain and injury.  
    • Being excessively extended:
      • If your lower back is excessively arched inward, it will lead to excessive compression in the joints in your lower back to make pain and injury.  
    • The elongated spinal alignment with good core activation is where you want to be.  This is good posture.  
    • Learn HERE how to get into good standing, sitting, and even lying postures. 

Once you learn how to get into good alignment: AKA good posture, you need to challenge your ability to stabilize in proper alignment through “posture corrective core exercises”.   

    • All “core” workouts for low back dysfunction should be posture corrective in that they promote the ability to maintain good posture.  
    • Conventional workouts which take the spine out of alignment promote too much mobility in the spine and so lead to spinal instabilities . . . and an unstable spine is not a good thing.  
      • Examples of such conventional workouts may include leg lifts, crunches, sit ups, and Russian twists.  
    • A list of amazing core strengthening posture corrective exercises I use with my patients successfully can be found HERE
    • Once you have a stable and well aligned spine, you need to learn how to make strong AND flexible hips.   In doing so, you will more likely move through the hips and NOT through the spine. 
      • Good hip flexibility will allow you to move through the stable ball and socket hip joints rather than your spine.   
        • If you look at the anatomy of the body, we have a stable ball and socket hip joint that is designed for both a lot of mobility AND stability.  
        • Vertebrae (the bones of the spine), more or less float on top of discs and so do not make inherently stable joints.  
          • In contrast to the hip, vertebral joints are stabilized through proper core activation.  

Based on this understanding, humans should be moving more through the hips and less through the back.  

      • Any lack of hip flexibility will be compensated through excessive spinal motion.  
        • This excess in motion makes pain and instability in the lumbar spine.
      • Click HERE to see a comprehensive list of exercises to improve hip flexibility 
    • Strengthening the hip muscles so that the body more readily uses the hips instead of the spine.  
      • Make strong hips; in particular the buttock muscles, which are the largest muscles that control the hips. 
      • With strong hips, you will be more inclined to use the hips instead of the lower back, thus maintaining spinal alignment.  
      • In other words, weak hips are compensated by an over reliance of low back movement to make low back dysfunction.
      • Click HERE for a comprehensive list of buttock strengthening exercises to make strong, powerful hips.  

In summary: to prevent and treat low back dysfunction perform the following;

    • Get into good posture (AKA good spinal alignment) and stay there by moving more through the hips. 
    • Perform core strengthening exercises that enhance your ability to stabilize your spine proper spinal alignment.  
    • Perform hip flexibility and hip strengthening exercises so that you have the mobility the strength to use your hips and not your back.  

One more very important tip:

    • Avoid activities and motions that you know cause low back pain, for this is your body telling you that you are either moving incorrectly or you are not yet ready for that given activity.  
    • As you get stronger and learn to move better, you may try that activity down the road and discover that it now is tolerable.  

James O'Brien, Perfecting Movement

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

JAMES O'BRIEN

I am James O’Brien and the founder of Perfecting Movement. In my 10+ years-experience as a physical therapist, my predominant focus has been in orthopedic physical therapy and personal training.   During this time I have developed a logical formula based in good movement practices and safe therapeutic exercise to deal with common orthopedic injuries and pain.  I have had an excellent success rate at getting my patients better. 

I am extremely passionate about teaching my patients and clients how to self-manage their injuries and to prevent such injuries from happening again.  I hope to share with you some of my successful treatment and injury prevention strategies.  

 

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