Lower back pain can be a pain in the a**.
According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, it is estimated that 70 to 90 percent of people will suffer from lower back pain in some form, at some stage in their lives. Whilst that is a very high statistic, this doesn’t mean that it is unavoidable. When it comes to minimising lower back pain it’s all about working on your mobility and stability. This means always making sure you’ve got a nice, neutral spine with good posture by opening up your hips and keeping some movement in your lower back. It also means keeping your deep, low back muscles and core muscles strong for good core stability.
To prevent lower back pain, make sure you:
Strengthen your core
Strong core muscles are really important as they help to support your lower back and reduce your risk of injury.
Focus on your posture
You might not feel the negative impact of poor posture immediately but over time the stress that poor posture places on your spine can lead to ongoing back pain by causing problems with not only your back muscles but your discs and joints as well. Incorrect posture places pressure on your back, so make sure you focus on your posture as you sit throughout the day and take walking breaks every hour to relieve some tension. Another little trick that I love is foam rolling. When I feel like I’ve been rounding my shoulders hunched at my desk, I like to jump on the foam roller and roll out some tension.
Stretch your hamstrings
More often than not when people experience lower back pain they assume it’s simply an issue with their back muscles, which is understandable. A common culprit, however, is actually tight hamstrings. Tight hamstrings pull on your lower back, causing you to experience lower back pain. Stretching your hamstrings is a great way to help relieve some of this pain however you should always check in with your doctor or physio first as some stretches are more appropriate than others depending on your back condition. Remember- keep a neutral spine while performing these stretches rather than reaching and touching your toes.
Alternating Arm & Leg Extension
Start on all fours with your hands flat directly under your shoulders and your knees under your hips.
Simultaneously extend your left arm and your right leg, keeping your body in a straight line and head facing down. Hold.
Return to the starting position and repeat with opposite arm and leg.
Alternating Toe Taps
Start by lying on your back with your knees in table top position. Keep a neutral spine and alternate tapping your right toes on the ground and then your left.
Cobra or Seal Stretch
Start by lying flat on the floor on your stomach with your palms flat on the floor beneath your shoulders. Keep your elbows tucked in close to your body. Breathe in and extend your arms, lifting your chest and keeping your shoulders down and away from your ears. Engage your abs to keep your thighs on the ground and pressure off your lower back.
Static Glute Bridge
Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor about hip width apart.
Raise your hips and lift your butt up by activating your glutes and hammys, creating a straight line from your knees to your shoulders. Keep your glutes and your abs engaged. Slowly return to the starting position.
Place your forearms on the ground with your elbows positioned below your shoulders. Your arms should be parallel with your body. This is a static hold. Engage your core and squeeze your glutes to keep the pressure off your lower back.
Sam Wood is the founder of online training and nutrition program 28 by Sam Wood and Australia’s largest personal training gym ‘The Woodshed’.
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