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Maintenance of the troubled lower back with precise exercise.

Posted Oct 10 2008 2:10pm

Being a professional personal trainer and medical exercise specialist,in excellent physical shape doesn’t not exclude me from the possibilities of acquiring a lower back injury. I train an average of 5 days per week 90 minutes per day since the age of 13. If anything there are occupational hazards which place myself or any fitness professional at extreme risk. I also drive an average of 250 miles a day (4 hours sitting) to see my clients. We all will experience a lower back crisis sooner or later. The question is, do you know what is required to eliminate the agonizing pain and mental anguish that ensues? Or will you simply acquiesce and lay motionless curled up on the floor and hope “time heals all”

As we age, there is a natural trend for all out our long bone muscles to become shorter and tighter, especially if we are inactive, and sit on our butts all day along. Moreover, blood flow and circulation to supportive muscles stabilizing our lower back and neck become blunted resulting in intra-muscular ischemia and atrophy.

Sounds horrible, but this is just another way we age, similar to way we get gray hairs, wrinkles and cataracts. However, with a properly prescribed and orchestrated fitness/rehab prescription lower back injuries and / or chronic pain can be significantly reduced, and in many cases eliminated.

Lets think about it, every day we sit. We sit for hours in our cars commuting, many of us have desk jobs where we sit several hours a day. When we are not at work, we are sitting in moving theaters, at ball games and graduation ceremonies.

To add insult, 21st century technology has created a sit on our ass, barely move society. Companies like Starbuck’s have drive thru’s for the lazy, who do not mind sitting / waiting in long lines as long as, they can just SIT and not get up. NASDQ companies like Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo has made it convenient for children to sit glued in front of the flat screen TV for hours on end, and twiddle a joystick! Enough of my mantra.

The solution is clear, and requires a time commitment and desire NOT to end up a lower back injury statistic. The prescription, although person specific must focus on several modalities to correct the  specific problem.

1. Evaluate the anatomical posture - Is there upper back kyphosis, excessive lower back lordosis, maybe a pelvic tilt posteriorly or anteriorly? Target the weakness’s and determine what is needed to realign the area of malformed posture. A highly qualified personal trainer or medical exercise specialist can help you evaluate your postural alignment for a nominal fee.

2. Determine which areas of your body are very inflexible and restore the flexibility - Culprits from prolonged sitting are (from the bottom up) inflexible ankles and calve muscles, overly tight hamstrings and gluteal muscles, and last but not least the tight hip flexor muscles, which cause our pelvis to tilt forward and out of alignment. Stretch these areas daily, as well as before and after any exercise program.

3. Evaluate your core - Do you have protruding belly? Chances are it has contributed to your pelvic tilt and chronic lower back pain. Love handles and lower back flab? These are all signs of core muscle atrophy and your bad eating dominating your life. Becoming familiar with 3-D core training with the proper equipment and / or using your body weight in an isometric fashion is integral to tightening up the most important muscles of your body. Your core muscles are the work horse muscles which protect and stabilize your vertebral column and spinal cord. Without core strength your spine becomes “spaghetti.”

4. Integrate cardio - Cardio exercise is aerobic exercise which elevates your heart rate to 60- 100% Max heart rate reserve. Be careful when doing this, as you can injury yourself, or if are dealing with orthopedic maladies or chronic health issues such as hypertension, diabetes or any form of cardiopathy. Get your Internal Medicine Doctor or Family Practitioner to evaluate you prior to doing any level of cardio. Once cleared, find a well qualified personal fitness trainer to design a cardio program for you. For years the Physician’s and scientific researchers working for the ACSM American College of Sports Medicine have touted the curative properties of Cardiovascular conditioning, and it healing effect on lower back injuries. Believe me, these guys are “cutting edge”, and their credible research is backed by large grants from the NIH (National Institute of Health.)

5. Melt away the excess fat - It is amazing what happens when individuals with back pain lose weight. Their joints feel more comfortable and in many instances their lower back pain dissipates! It has been shown that carrying an extra 20 pounds of fat around your torso adds an extra 50 PSI of pressure on each one of the inter vertebral discs, and puts you at risk for acquiring a slipped disc. Again, you should consult a highly qualified personal fitness trainer to help you reconstruct your food choices. Notice, I didn’t say diet! In many cases, understanding which foods are metabolically compatible for your body type is the answer. Eating cleaner doesn’t mean eating less. Diets create starvation and this IS NOT the answer.

In summary, none of us are immune to a lower back crisis. After all, it is the number one reason work days are missed  in America. Even athletes and personal trainers deal with lower back problems. You must be smart on your approach to dealing with lower back pain. Each episode creates an arthritic flare with deposition of bone in the foramen of the vertebral column. Life can become miserable and the pain intolerable. There comes a point where only medicine or surgery become options. There is a risk of Hydrocone or Vicodin addiction. A good surgical outcome is never guaranteed and the post-operative results are often worse off. I have seen it! Imagine, a life of walking on sharp pieces of glass and walking around like the town drunk. This is often seen when the lower back inflammatory process transitions to a state known as Spondylothesis or Spondylosis. Not good! How do you want to live your life?

For more information on how to give your aching back some TLC, and / or how to integrate the therapeutic exercise mentioned above into an easy to apply prescription ,contact the incredibly competent and intelligent trainers of Somagenesis Health and Fitness at or contact myself of my associates at 760-271-3064

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