I imagine if you are taking the time to read this you may have or have had low back pain. You are not alone. Low back pain is the most common condition we see at Whole Strength. Although it is common and almost always not due to a serious issue, this does not mean that it is normal to regularly experience lower back discomfort. It can significantly impact your daily life, limit mobility, and hinder overall well-being as well as reduce your ability to stay active with things you love to do. While there are various approaches to managing low back pain that we utilize, our approach lies in finding ways to overcome your pain with targeted treatment, mobility work, and exercises focused on improving symptoms and then build up your ability to handle whatever you want to do through strengthening.
Understanding the Role of Muscles for Your Lower Back:
To understand how strength exercises can benefit low back pain, it is essential to understand the role of muscles in supporting the spine. Our deeper muscles work together to stabilize the spine and provide support while the larger muscles perform the movement. Weakness or imbalances in these muscles or poor movement patterns can lead to increased stress on the lower back, resulting in pain and discomfort.
Trunk or “core” strength plays a crucial role in maintaining support for your back. Muscles that aren’t functioning optimally can lead to excessive stress on the spine. Finding ways to target the deep core muscles early on can help you to improve the function of these muscles. These exercises do no fix the root cause of pain but can help to reduce pain in order to progress to higher levels of function.
Posterior Chain Strengthening:
The muscles of the back, hips, hamstrings and calves make up the posterior chain. Targeted strengthening of these muscles has been shown to be an effective way to reduce low back pain. We typically start strengthening these muscles early on in rehabilitation with exercises that put lower amounts of stress on the spine and can be tolerated in the presence of pain. As pain improves, we then build in strengthening of these muscle with more functional movement patterns (ie. hip hinging/deadlift) in order to allow you to handle normal loads whether in the gym or in life.
Building Functional Strength and Resilience
As we mentioned above our goal is to progress into more functional strength for your back. Working on “core stability” exercises where you focus on maintaining “neutral” positions (things like bird dogs, planks, deadbugs) can be great early on to get out of pain but we don’t live in these positions. We need to be able to learn how to move optimally that can be built through strengthening different movement patterns (hinging, squatting, lunging, carrying). You also need to be able to handle a variety of movements that we perform daily in the real world to be able to live without restriction. This can be achieved by first introducing once painful movements and then gradually building strength through these patterns.
Need to get your baby out of a crib? Then we need to train your spine to be strong in a flexed position.
Want to work towards PRs on the powerlifts and not worry about a flare up? We help to progressively push you to be able to handle these loads without excessively loading your back.
Want to golf without feeling like you lose your power on the back 9? Then we work on rotational strength and power to get you through the round feeling pain free and not losing distance.
The rehab becomes more specific to the activity you want to get back to or movements that you have to perform in your life when your pain has improved. We want to challenge you in order to gain confidence so that you don’t feel limited by your back as you get back to it!
Putting it all together
Strength training can be a powerful tool in managing and alleviating low back pain. By targeting specific imbalances early on and then progressing to a more functional program get back to whatever you want to do without feeling limited by a “weak back”. However, just because you are “strong” does not mean that you won’t have low back pain. We work with many high level strength athletes that deal with pain as well. The key is to build a program that is individualized to what each person needs and is driven towards helping them achieve their goals.
If you’re in the Charlottesville area and you’re ready to get help with your back pain then click the button below to schedule your discovery visit today with one of our back pain specialists so that we can get you back on track to being pain free as soon as possible!
Disclaimer: The information provided in this blog is for educational purposes only and should not be considered a substitute for professional medical advice or treatment. Always consult with a qualified healthcare professional before starting any exercise program, especially if you have a pre-existing medical condition or injury.