Protect Your Lower Back: Exercises & Considerations
What is the kinetic chain?
The kinetic chain is comprised of the articular, muscular, and nervous systems. It is these three sub-systems working in concert that creates efficient movement within the human body.
The lower back is considered by many to be the one of the weakest links in the kinetic chain and is a critical middle ground for transferring power between the upper and lower body.
Did you know that approximately 80% of the United States population has experienced some form of low back pain in their lifetime?
80% of this population is likely to experience recurrent low back pain as a result of previous injury.
Lower back pain is the number one cause of healthcare related costs within the United States and approximately $55 billion is spent annually on lower back pain related healthcare causes alone.
Low back pain is the number one cause of employee absenteeism and workers compensation claims as well.
Who’s at risk?
Some are more at risk than others.
Those who with labor intensive occupations
Statistically, women between the ages of 35-55 years of age, who are widowed, separated, or divorced, with a lower level of education partially because of psychological factors that influences the rate of healing
Smokers because cigarette smoking can delay the healing rate
Those who are overweight or obese because of increased compression of the muscles, joints, ligaments and discs within the spine
The most common causes are due to poor posture, improper lifting techniques / body mechanics, disc or joint degeneration common with age or muscle imbalances.
This is why it is critical to recruit the services of a qualified coach, personal trainer, and or physical therapist to help assess, address, and educate you on proper movement, individual considerations, and designing a plan to improve symmetry and quality of movement.
Signs and symptoms
Pain often occurs below the ribcage in what is called the lumbar region. Depending on the severity of the injury, pain can be referred into the posterior hip and thigh, anterior groin and thigh, knee and / or lower leg. Typically, the further the pain travels down the leg, the more severe the injury. Occasionally, one may experience pins and needles as well as pain in specific areas of the body.
Age related lumbar pathologies
Disc problems - common amongst 35-55 year olds
Ankylosing spondylitis - males 18-45 years old
Spondylolysis - athletic adolescents, common in football player, gymnasts
Arthritis/spondylosis - 45+
When to see a doctor
If symptoms are progressing and there is nothing that you can do to alleviate your symptoms.
Bowel/bladder incontinence, saddle anesthesia
Spastic gait (abnormal gait), numbness and tingling bilaterally
Severe night pain unrelated to movement
Recent unexplained weight loss >10 lbs
There is no single cause for lower back pain and symptoms vary from individual to individual. There is no single treatment method beneficial towards all individuals experiencing lower back pain.
Studies have shown that patients presenting with low back pain can often recover without intervention.
44% better in one week.
86% better in one month
92% better in two months
For those who want to work on preventative and rehabilitative care, stretching can help. Ask your trainer about the following stretches if you experience lower back pain.
For those who prefer flexion:
Knees to chest
Posterior pelvic tilt
For those who prefer extension
Leaning on countertop
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Weight Loss for Obesity and Back Pain. My Bariatric Life. http://www.mybariatriclife.org/weight-loss-for-obesity-and-back-pain/. Published January 4, 2016. Accessed June 1, 2017.
Mooney MDV. Back Exercise for Pain Relief. Spine-health. https://www.spine-health.com/treatment/physical-therapy/back-exercise-pain-relief. Accessed June 1, 2017.