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3 Exercises to Alleviate Back Pain

By February 23, 2014Adult Fitness

This is a guest post from GameChanger Coach Rob Riccobono

In my last blog post, I discussed how shoulder pain plagues many Americans. Another chronic ailment that many face is lower back pain. One-half of working Americans admit to having lower back pain, and it is the single leading cause of disability worldwide. Many think back pain is unavoidable, but what if we can prevent it? Just like with shoulder pain, we can combat some of the causes of lower back pain with exercise.

Exercise # 1 – Plank

Muscle weakness often causes pain, and one weakness that frequently leads to low back pain is in the abdominals. Strong abs will stabilize the pelvis and limit movement in the lower back. When the abs are weak, the lower back is more likely to move. When the lower back moves too much, people do harm to their spine and experience pain. The solution is to strengthen the abs. The problem is people rely on crunches and sit-ups, and they usually perform these movements incorrectly by moving mostly at the lower back (rather than the hips and upper back). This is exactly what CAUSED the pain in the first place. One solution: planks. Planks strengthen the abs by training them to remain stable and lock the lower back in place.

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Exercise # 2 – Banded Lateral Walk

Another fixable cause of low back pain is immobile hips. If the hips are unable to move when they’re supposed to, the lower back moves instead. When bending over to pick something up, many people bend too much at their spine when they should be relying on their hips. Flexion (bending) of the lower back is the leading cause of disk problems. To avoid pain, we should move at our hips, not our lower backs. We are born with very mobile hips, but this mobility decreases over time from sitting and inactivity. Pay attention to how tight your hips feel after a long car ride and you’ll understand this perfectly. Luckily, there are exercises to help regain this hip mobility. My favorite is the Banded Lateral Walk.

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Exercise # 3 – Glute Bridge

Another common reason for low back pain: people don’t know how to use their glutes. That’s right, you read that correctly……not knowing how to properly use your butt can lead to back pain. Using your glutes to lift weights, stabilize your low back, and move properly will protect and spare your lower back. An easy way to learn to engage your glutes is to flex them throughout the day. It’s that simple. Do a few sets each day of squeezing your glutes as hard as you can. This will get you familiar with “turning on” your glutes instead of your low back. Another great option is the glute bridge. This exercise will teach you to contract your glutes instead of your back, and adding weight to the exercise will strengthen the glutes.

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The source of the pain is usually not the cause of the pain. If your lower back hurts, it is probably because there is something wrong with another muscle nearby. Knowing this is an integral part of understanding our bodies, feeling better, and improving our overall quality of life.

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