Have you ever reached into an overhead cabinet for an out-of-reach jar and suddenly felt your back spasm? Have you ever been helping your toddler out of his or her car seat and spent the rest of the week in bed? Are you a runner who has wondered why sitting can hurt so much?
Back pain costs the U.S. – both companies and individuals – millions of dollars every year in sick leave, insurance rates, and expensive therapies. If it is so curable through exercise, why don’t more people take advantage of what is essentially free treatment, instead of resorting to medication, surgery, or a lifetime of pain?
Back injuries are erroneously over-associated with old age and obesity.
The reality is that people of any age, weight, fitness level can suffer from back pain, sometimes without realizing it, because back pain is a progressive sequence of events.
Here is the sequence of injury:
- Muscular imbalances are caused by a sedentary lifestyle, overtraining, or both, and eventually lead to…
- Unhealthy movement patterns that reinforce muscular imbalances around joints and tight muscles around nerves, which can lead to…
- Nagging soreness/discomfort/pain, which eventually leads to…
- Debilitating injury. This is when your doctor tells you that you can’t run, play basketball, lift weights, or other life activities that give you enjoyment.
My goal for you is to help you improve your functional fitness and essentially make your body “injury-proof.”
What are these “muscular imbalances” that cause back pain?
This simply means that around critical, weight-bearing, large-movement joints, the muscles that surround the joint are overdeveloped on one side (tight, contracted, and overtrained), and underdeveloped on the other side (weak, underused, and perhaps overly flexible).
Why do most solutions NOT work for back pain?
Let’s leave pain medication and surgery out of the question for the moment. Most natural back treatments involve stretching and weight management. Another step in the right direction is core strengthening. However, the systems of the body do not function in isolation – everything is interconnected and interdependent. In other words, you can’t “spot-treat” back pain. You have the fix the big picture.
Another quick note: stretching, one of the most common recommendations for back pain, can actually be quite harmful, especially if the sufferer does not work with a specialist. Another common remedy that can cause more harm than good is ab exercises that do not allow your back to be lengthened and supported. Just because your doctor has recommended exercise doesn’t mean that you should jump into a new program without researching the ramifications for back pain.
What is the big picture of back pain?
There are three main components to a happy, healthy back:
- Core strength (including glute and hamstring strength)
- Weight management
If you do not address all three of these functions in tandem, as well as perform flexibility and strength exercises properly, you run the risk of increasing your back pain.
It should be noted that some back issues do require surgery. You should always consult with a medical professional before beginning a new plan of exercise.
Do you suffer from back pain, and has your doctor or physical therapist recommended increased exercise? Would you like to try a free, 28-day program to strengthen your core, increase your flexibility, and manage your healthy weight?