3 Reasons That Your Back Still Hurts
It’s one of the most common reasons that people go to Physical Therapy; back pain. Now you’ve completed physical therapy and your back feels better. You go back to life as it was, and because there’s no pain as a daily reminder you start forgetting to do your home exercises, and in a few months it’s back again.
Back pain can be short lived or chronic, but generally speaking once you’ve experienced it, it’s always lurking in the shadows looking to come back. Why is that though? Why is back pain both so common, and almost always recurring?
The answer is twofold. Back pain is related to both your daily habits, and the muscles that support it. None of us (or very few of us) practice great movement patterns on a daily basis. The amount of times that you bend and lift using your back far outweigh the amount of times you squat and lift with your legs. Most of us don’t have great seated or standing posture, and spend far too much time slouched over a computer or on a couch. And we certainly don’t strengthen the muscles that support our spine enough.
Her is a list of three things that you need to address at to keep your back pain at bay and maintain a healthy spine.
1- A lack of lateral stability
Your back needs to be supported in all directions by the muscles that surround it. The majority of movements that we perform on a daily basis are saggital plane, meaning they are either going straight forward or backward. Because there is very little side to side movement, we don’t use those muscles as much as we should, and because they’re not used they begin to lose strength.
These muscles are extremely important for support in both the hips and spine and need to be used. The simplest way to train them are with a series of side planks like the ones below. It doesn’t take much to improve your lateral stability, and the benefits of doing so are tremendous. Check out the videos below for some different side plank ideas to keep things interesting and focus on lateral stability in different parts of the kinetic chain.
2- You need more thoracic mobility
Don’t we all. This also goes back to the fact that we spend so much time going straight forward and backward, we don’t utilize our thoracic rotation. As the saying goes, if you don’t use it, you lose it. When we lose our ability to rotate through our thoracic spine (the part attached to your ribs) we tend to move more through our low back. This would be fine, except that our low back isn’t intended to allow rotation.
Improving thoracic rotation can not only help our low back, but our shoulders as well. Try some of these drills to start regaining your thoracic rotation and improving your overall back health.
3- You don’t use your butt
Most people use it as a seat and that’s about it, but your butt is one of the most important muscles in the body. Not only is it essential for producing power in sports, but for the average Jane or Joe it should be the prime mover when getting up out of a seated position. It also helps establish a foundation for your spine. Without that solid foundation at the base of the spine, the rest of the muscles of your core have to work extra hard in order to make up for it and stabilize the spine.
The glutes can, and should, be trained in multiple directions. The exercises below will give you a good variety of ways to train them and keep that foundation strong to help support your spine and keep you pain free.
For more ideas on preventing low back pain, check out this blog by our very own Mike Lefebvre.
Steve Zarriello is a Certified Strength and Conditoning Specialist, TPI Certified coach, and the owner of Olympia Fitness and Performance, located in Cranston, RI. He has been training clients of all different ages, abilities and backgrounds to help them reach their specific goals for almost 15 years. His primary focus is on working with golfers to help improve their ability to play the game and keep them pain free.