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Fix Lower Back Pain: 4 Essential Steps to a Pain-Free Life!

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  • Post last modified:October 13, 2023

What if I told you that lower back pain isn’t just about your back? Here’s the full story…

CK @ Fix Your Fitness

Lower back pain is a common ailment that many individuals experience at some point in their lives. Often resulting from poor fitness routines, lack of strength, or incorrect posture, it’s a discomfort that can be debilitating. However, with the right knowledge and practices, one can minimize or even prevent lower back pain. This guide delves into the causes of lower back pain in fitness routines, exercises to fortify the area, the pivotal role of posture, and how flexibility affects this critical region.

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Photo by Karolina Grabowska

1. Causes of Lower Back Pain in Fitness Routines and How to Address Them:

Often, individuals experience lower back pain due to incorrect techniques or overexertion during exercises. Some common causes include:

  • Lifting weights with poor form.
  • Overstretching or not warming up before a workout.
  • Overreliance on the lower back instead of engaging the core.
  • Performing high-impact exercises without adequate strength or preparation.

a. Lifting weights with poor form.

In my early days of weightlifting, I was eager to lift as heavy as possible, thinking it was the quickest way to gain muscle. This led to me often compromising my form, especially during deadlifts. The result? A sore lower back that took me out of the gym for weeks. I realized that ego-lifting was doing me more harm than good.

Explanation: Poor form, especially when lifting weights, puts undue stress on the lower back. This is because the muscles and spine are not aligned correctly, leading to strain and potential injury.

Tips & Solutions:

  • Educate Yourself: Before beginning any weight lifting routine, learn the proper form. Many tutorials are available online or consider hiring a personal trainer, even for just a session or two, to guide you.
  • Start Light: Start with lighter weights and focus on mastering the form. As you become more comfortable, you can gradually increase the weight.
  • Mirror Check: If possible, perform lifts in front of a mirror to monitor and correct your posture in real-time.

b. Overstretching or not warming up before a workout.

I used to scoff at the idea of warming up, thinking it was a waste of time. However, a pulled hamstring during a sprint session changed that mindset quickly.

Explanation: Jumping directly into intense exercises without warming up can shock the muscles and lead to injuries. Overstretching, on the other hand, can pull or tear muscles, including those in the lower back.

Tips & Solutions:

  • Dynamic Warm-Up: Incorporate a 10-15 minute dynamic warm-up to prepare your body. This could include light cardio (like brisk walking or jogging) and dynamic stretches.
  • Avoid Static Stretches Pre-Workout: Save static stretches for after the workout. Before a workout, focus on dynamic stretches to activate the muscles you’ll be using.

c. Overreliance on the lower back instead of engaging the core.

I once took a Pilates class, thinking it’d be easy. Halfway through, the instructor pointed out that I wasn’t engaging my core during exercises. It was a wake-up call about the importance of the core.

Explanation: The core muscles stabilize the spine. If they’re not engaged during exercises, the lower back takes on extra stress.

Tips & Solutions:

  • Core Strengthening: Incorporate core exercises like planks, Russian twists, and leg raises into your routine.
  • Mind-Muscle Connection: When working out, consciously think about engaging your core. It can help to exhale forcefully during the exertion part of an exercise to ensure the core is tight.

d. Performing high-impact exercises without adequate strength or preparation.

I once joined an advanced HIIT class without proper preparation. Midway through, my lower back was screaming in pain due to the high jumps and burpees. It was a lesson in humility.

Explanation: High-impact exercises can be jarring for the body, especially if it’s not prepared for the movement. This can lead to strain or injury, especially in the lower back.

Tips & Solutions:

  • Build a Foundation: Before jumping into high-impact exercises, ensure you’ve built a foundational level of fitness. Start with low-impact exercises and gradually increase intensity.
  • Alternative Exercises: If a particular high-impact exercise causes discomfort, find a low-impact version. For example, instead of jump squats, perform regular squats until you build more strength and endurance.
  • Use Proper Footwear: Wear supportive shoes that absorb shock, especially during high-impact routines.

These mistakes were crucial learning points for me. They’ve shaped my fitness journey, and I share them in hopes that they can guide others on their path. Always remember, it’s about progress, not perfection. Always remember that everyone’s body is different. It’s crucial to listen to your body and make adjustments as needed. If pain persists, consider seeking advice from a fitness or medical professional.


2. Strengthening the Lower Back

To prevent injury and alleviate pain, it’s essential to engage in exercises that target and bolster the lower back. Some effective workouts include:

1. Pelvic Tilts

When I first started incorporating pelvic tilts into my routine, it seemed deceivingly simple. But with consistent practice, I noticed a marked improvement in my core strength and reduced back discomfort during daily activities.

  • Instructions: Lie on your back with knees bent. Tighten your stomach muscles, pushing your lower back into the floor. Hold for a few seconds and relax.
  • Frequency: Aim for 3 sets of 10 repetitions, 3 times a week.
  • Why It Helps: Pelvic tilts engage and strengthen the core muscles, which in turn provides better support to the spine. Regular practice can improve posture and alleviate strain on the lower back.
  • Progressions: To make it more challenging, try doing the pelvic tilt with one leg extended straight out, alternating legs with each repetition.

2. Bird-Dog

Bird-Dogs were a revelation for me. Initially, I struggled with balancing, but over time, I felt more stable, controlled, and confident in my movements. It became a cornerstone of my back-strengthening routine.

  • Instructions: Start on all fours. Extend one arm forward and the opposite leg back. Hold for a few seconds and then switch.
  • Frequency: Aim for 3 sets of 10 repetitions (on each side), 3 times a week.
  • Why It Helps: The bird-dog is excellent for enhancing balance, stability, and coordination. It also strengthens both the lower back and the core, making it a holistic exercise for spinal health.
  • Progressions: To make this exercise more challenging, try adding ankle weights or hold the position longer, increasing the duration over time.

3. Bridges

I’ll admit, I used to neglect my glutes in my early fitness days. But once I incorporated bridges and felt the burn, I realized the power of strong glutes in supporting my lower back. It’s a must-do for anyone looking to protect and strengthen their back.

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  • Instructions: Lie on your back with knees bent. Lift your hips off the ground until shoulders, hips, and knees align, squeezing your glutes at the top. Slowly lower and repeat.
  • Frequency: Aim for 3 sets of 12 repetitions, 3 times a week.
  • Why It Helps: Bridges are great for targeting the glutes, hamstrings, and lower back muscles. Strengthening these areas helps in maintaining proper posture, reducing the chances of lower back pain.
  • Progressions: For added difficulty, try doing single-leg bridges or placing a resistance band around your thighs to engage the glutes more.

You should also read this article in conjunction with the post on Unlocking Your Hip Flexors, also a most underrated source of many fitness issues that has easy fixes.


3. The Role of Posture and Ergonomics

Maintaining a good posture is not just about looking confident; it’s a cornerstone of lower back health. The rise in sedentary lifestyles, especially with an increase in desk jobs, has magnified the importance of posture and ergonomics. Poor posture, especially over prolonged periods, can exacerbate the stress on our spine, leading to discomfort and long-term issues. Key points to remember:

  1. Always sit back in your chair with feet flat on the floor.
    • Why: This ensures even weight distribution across your body, reducing the load on your lower back. It also encourages the natural curve of your spine, preventing slouching and reducing the risk of back pain.
    • According to the American Chiropractic Association, about 31 million Americans experience lower back pain at any given time, and one potential contributor is poor seating posture.
  2. Ensure computer screens are at eye level.
    • Why: If your screen is too low or too high, you’ll unconsciously crane your neck, leading to neck and shoulder strain. By having the screen at eye level, you’re promoting a neutral neck position, reducing the chance of musculoskeletal issues.
    • The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) of the United States recommends placing the top of the computer screen at or just below eye level.
  3. Take breaks and stretch if sitting for extended periods.
    • Why: Continuous sitting, especially in a static posture, can reduce blood flow to your muscles and put added pressure on your spine. Taking breaks and stretching allows muscles to relax, increases blood circulation, and helps in resetting your posture.
    • A study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine found that those who sat for prolonged periods were at a higher risk of developing health issues, even if they exercised regularly. The study suggests that standing up and moving every 30 minutes could potentially counteract these risks.


4. Flexibility and Its Impact on Lower Back Pain

Imagine you’re a majestic bow, curved and taut, ready to launch arrows with precision. But what if the bowstring was stiff? It wouldn’t launch arrows efficiently, right? Similarly, our bodies, especially our backs, need that pliancy and elasticity to function optimally.

Our back is an intricate network of muscles, tendons, and ligaments. Just like how the strings of an instrument need to be appropriately tuned to produce harmonious music, the components of our back need to be flexible and strong for smooth functioning. And this is where flexibility and mobility exercises, especially yoga and Pilates, come into play.

1. Reducing Muscle Tension and Increasing Range of Motion: Think of muscle tension as a continuous pull or stress on your muscles, which can lead to discomfort or pain. Incorporating flexibility exercises helps in relaxing these muscles, making them less prone to injury. A more extensive range of motion, on the other hand, ensures that your joints move freely, reducing the stress on your lower back.

  • Why it matters: A limited range of motion can make you more susceptible to strains, especially during daily activities. Simple tasks like tying your shoelaces or picking up something from the floor can become painful chores without proper flexibility.

2. Improving Blood Flow and Nutrient Delivery to the Muscles: It’s no secret that proper blood flow is crucial for muscle health. Just as plants need water for growth, our muscles need a steady supply of blood, which carries vital nutrients. Flexibility exercises help in promoting this blood flow.

  • Why it matters: Enhanced blood flow accelerates muscle recovery and reduces the buildup of toxins, ensuring that your muscles are always ready for action. This directly translates to less stiffness and a lower chance of muscle spasms or pain.

3. Alleviating Pain and Preventing Potential Injuries: Stiff muscles are more prone to tears. Regular flexibility training ensures that muscles and tendons are more elastic, reducing the risk of injuries. Moreover, these exercises can also help in pain management, offering a non-medical solution to back discomfort.

  • Why it matters: In a world where we often look for quick fixes, exercises like yoga and Pilates offer a natural remedy to pain. Prevention is better than cure, and by embracing flexibility, you’re not just addressing the pain but also building a foundation to prevent future issues.

In Conclusion: Your lower back is like the foundation of a building – if it’s strong and flexible, it supports everything above it effortlessly. So, whether you’re an athlete, a desk worker, or someone just looking to enjoy life without the nagging pull of back pain, understanding and working on your flexibility can be your game-changer. Dive into the world of yoga, Pilates, or even simple stretching exercises, and give your back the love and care it truly deserves.


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  • Q: How often should I do lower back exercises? A: Aim for 2-3 times a week, but always listen to your body.
  • Q: Is it normal to experience some pain while doing these exercises? A: Mild discomfort might be expected initially, but sharp pain is a sign to stop and consult a professional.

What’s next?

Equipped with this knowledge, it’s time to integrate these practices into your daily life. Consistency is key. For further guidance on overall spine health or other fitness-related queries, check out our related articles on core strength and stretching techniques.

While I’m not a doctor, there are a variety of medical issues that can present symptoms similar to, or be mistaken for, simple lower back pain. Some of these include:

  1. Kidney Problems: Conditions like kidney stones or kidney infections can cause pain in the lower back, often on one side.
  2. Aortic Aneurysm: This is a bulging of the aorta, the main blood vessel that runs down the back of your chest and abdomen. If it begins to leak or rupture, it can cause severe back pain.
  3. Pancreatitis: Inflammation of the pancreas can result in pain that is felt in the upper abdomen which can radiate to the back.
  4. Gynecological Issues: Conditions like endometriosis or fibroids can result in pelvic pain that may be mistaken for back pain.
  5. Appendicitis: If your appendix is inflamed, it can cause pain that starts in the middle of your abdomen and then shifts to your lower right back.
  6. Spinal Tumors: Although rare, tumors can exist on the spinal column or spinal cord and can cause localized or radiating pain.
  7. Infections: Infections of the spine, known as osteomyelitis, can result in pain in the affected area.
  8. Gastrointestinal Issues: Conditions like ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease can result in abdominal pain that might be mistaken for back pain.
  9. Arthritis: Conditions such as ankylosing spondylitis, a type of arthritis that affects the spine, can cause chronic pain in the lower back.
  10. Referred Pain: Sometimes, pain can originate in a different part of the body but is felt in the back. This is called referred pain.

It’s essential for anyone experiencing persistent or unusual back pain to consult with a healthcare professional. They can provide an accurate diagnosis and recommend appropriate treatments.