Coaches Corner: A PTM’s Perspective on Lower Back Pain Written by: vidafitnessnew

Can’t seem to shake that lower back pain?  Read this Coaches Corner guest blog from Personal Training Manager and Expert Trainer Pruitt Brown.

From new clients to people I meet in public, I am frequently asked questions about preventing lower back pain. This comes as no surprise, considering 80% of Americans experience this phenomenon. Drawing from over 15 years of experience in the fitness industry, I have compiled a few tips that can help you in your exercise routine to avoid pain.

The lower back has one major role in the body—to support. It is known as a static joint. For reference, the stability joints are the foot, knee, lumbar spine (i.e., l-spine), cervical spine, and elbow. The mobility joints are the ankle, hip, thoracic spine (i.e., t-spine), shoulder, and wrist.

Three to 49 degrees is the typical range of motion (ROM) for the lower back. We are typically at 42 degrees to pick an object off the floor and 48 degrees to fully bend sagittally at the waist.

Why do we experience lower back pain?

The most common reason is that it is doing a job it is not meant to…moving.

If the hip and/or t-spine are not mobile, then this will cause the L-spine to take over jobs it is not meant to do or be developed in. A good example of this is sitting at your desk all day, then jumping up to go to the gym and beginning to deadlift. Your glutes are underactive, and your t-spine is stretched long and weak from being hunched over your laptop. Neither group of movers will be able to efficiently do their job. The hips are the protagonist, and the t-spine is the isometric group of this movement. So the l-spine will take over a movement it is not capable of doing. Then, prolonged soreness, inflammation, and possible injury can occur.

What can be done?

  • Stretch: Tight hip flexors, shoulders, and hamstrings (e.g., cobra stretch, supermans, lying straight leg hamstring)
  • Mobilize: T-Spine, and acetabulum (e.g., open book stretch, hip CARS)
  • Primers (activate): Lats, glutes (e.g., chest-supported rows, hanging scap retractions, glute bridges, clamshells)
  • Be consistent: Work with a coach to cue you and help detect your dysfunctions and progress beyond them
  • Strengthen: Build strength in the posterior muscle groups of the body to cement your progress.

As the posterior of the body becomes more active, connected, and strong, the lower back will be less likely to take over jobs not intended for it.

This is generic advice for lower back pain from minor dysfunctions. If you are in pain, the first step is to consult with a medical professional. Before starting any training program, please consult and get an assessment from a PT professional.