Pain in the lower back is one of those nagging issues that many people face at least once in their lifetime. The problem is that there are many reasons you could be experiencing pain in that area. Presumably, you also do some physical activity and are relatively young, so we can narrow down the possible reason to a few that are most common and give you some knowledge on how to help yourself get rid of lower back pain.
The Common Causes Of Lower Back Pain
The most common cause of a painful lower back does not come from the back muscles, which can seem contradictory at first. But the fact is that most of us have very stiff hamstrings and glutes, due to sitting for the majority of our waking hours. This position causes a shortening of the hamstrings, so when you’re supposed to walk, run or perform any activity standing up, the pressure mounts on the connective point of the upper and lower body – lower back.
The second common reason is bad posture. Even if you’re forced to sit all day, it doesn’t mean that you’ll mess up your back, especially if you train regularly in the gym. But if you sit and walk with a slouching posture, you’re bound to experience some difficulties. That’s especially true if you develop a forward neck posture due to bringing your head forwards while on the computer. The weight of your upper body shifts forward, and the lower back becomes strained far more than it should be.
The third cause is improper form while performing various exercises. The common lower back pain culprits are squats, deadlifts and crunches. The common issue with squats is moving the upper body forward too much, which is due to lack of flexibility in the hips. The deadlifts are also difficult to master, and on top of that, people often use way too much weight that they cannot lift with proper form. Crunches are a story for themselves. Some fitness experts believe that they cause a shortening of the hips due to the nature of the movement, even when performed correctly. The other problem is that the crunches also expose the lower back to a lot of pressure.
How To Fix Lower Back Pain
There are a few ways you can fix this problem, of course depending on the cause itself. It’s always recommended to seek medical consultation before trying any quick fixes by yourself, but these tips can still prove to be helpful in solving the issue.
1. Stretch Your Hamstrings & Hip Flexors
It is recommended to stretch your hamstrings and hip flexors every day in order to elongate the muscle and relax the connective tissue.
There are numerous stretches you can do, the best being: the butterfly stretch, head to knee stretch, deep squat hip stretch and the kneeling hip flexor stretch. You can find these and many more explained in video format here.
2. Strengthen Your Legs
On top of doing these stretches, it is vital to strengthen those muscles, in order for them to support the lower back in any physical activity you perform. This can be accomplished by exercising your legs 2-3 times per week with regular squats, deadlifts, leg curls and leg press.
3. Strengthen Your Core
On top of training your legs, the other area to focus on is your core strength. That involves both your abdominal muscles and your lower back, both of which should be trained just like any other muscle group.
For lower back, doing deadlifts within the 8-12 rep range and without lowering the weight completely on the floor is the way to go. Hyperextensions are another great exercise that will strengthen the muscle, and you can use either your bodyweight or hold a plate/dumbbell in your hand to increase the difficulty.
As previously mentioned, regular crunches should be avoided if you’re already feeling lower back pain. Instead, you should do isometric exercises, namely planks, as well as a variation of crunches which doesn’t put strain on the hamstrings and lower back. This variation is called “frog sit ups” and it was developed by the famous bodybuilding coach Vince Gironda, exactly to prevent the ill effects of regular crunches.
Do a few sets of each exercise every other day and you’re bound to feel a positive difference.
Lower back pain is a common medical complaint, and it’s very easy to become the victim. Luckily, with a bit of fitness knowledge and practice, you can make it go away. Hopefully this article has broadened your knowledge on the topic, and you’ll use it wisely to help yourself and others get rid of lower back pain for good.