7 ways to begin injury proofing your lower back 

Nov 28, 2019

When it comes to injury, your lower back is particularly vulnerable due to the number of moving parts in the area and the amount of weight it has to bear. If you’ve ever experienced lower back pain, you’ll know how debilitating it can be. That’s why protection is the name of the game. By learning more about the way you move and putting the right habits in place, you’ll be able to safeguard the health of your back for a long and active future.

In the above tutorial, I share the top seven things I recommend you start doing immediately to protect your lower back and guard against pain. In summary: 

1. Train movement over muscle 

When you head to the gym for a workout, I’ll bet many of the activities you include in your session are about training your muscles to make them bigger and stronger. Your lower back will be better served if you turn this on its head and start training or practising movements instead. This may not feel like traditional fitness exercise, but it will get your muscles in the habit of working together to support your spine properly when you’re lifting, carrying or bending. 

2. Maintain a neutral posture

Most people have a slight inward curve in their lower back or lumbar region. This can mean that movements like carrying, pushing, pulling or lifting put more stress than necessary on the lumbar vertebrae and discs, causing pain and stiffness. If you can learn to correct your posture and maintain a neutral position throughout these activities, you will reduce the stress you’re putting on that area and ultimately lessen the risk of damage to your lower spine. 

3. Co-contract the muscles of the torso

Once you’ve mastered the correct movements and the correct posture from which to attempt these movements, it’s time to focus on the muscles that wrap around and protect the lumbar region and torso. Watch the tutorial above for more information about which muscles these are, but this one is all about learning to co-contract all the different muscles in the area to achieve good levels of support for your skeletal frame.

4. Consider how you’re bending

If, like most people, you tend to twist and bend from your spine, it’s time to
become more mindful of your movements. Simply by creating a habit whereby you maintain a neutral posture and twist from either the shoulder or the hips you’ll reduce your risk of a nasty injury. And when you’re lifting something up from the floor concentrate on bending forwards from your hips rather than carrying all the weight in your spine.

5. Build your general fitness

I’m not saying here that you need to start training every day or develop marathon running endurance levels. Building your fitness is just about exercising consistently at a level that you’re comfortable with to improve cardio-vascular fitness and strength. You don’t even have to visit a gym if you don’t want to, concentrate on finding activities that you enjoy so you’ll be more likely to stick with them. As your general levels of fitness improve so will the strength and condition of your muscles. And if your improved fitness regime can help you to lose some weight too, that can only mean less stress on your spine.

6. Avoid exercises first thing in the morning

This is one of my favourite tips as it’s something that people very often don’t realise, even those who train regularly. It could be harmful to your back to exercise too soon after you get out of bed. This is because as soon as you wake up your discs can become super hydrated and need to be allowed to dehydrate. While they’re in this state it’s important to ease gently into any fitness activities, particularly spine-bending ones like sit-ups and crunches. Instead, try to maintain a neutral posture and allow your body to wake up slowly.

7. Balance time spent sitting, standing and walking

If you find yourself sitting still for long periods of time, perhaps you work in a sedentary desk job, it’s important to keep your spine fluid and supple by standing up and moving around regularly – I recommend at least once per hour. This will help not only your spine but your hips too, reducing the load on them as they hold you in a sitting position. This is far from an exhaustive list. There are loads of beneficial things you could start doing to support your lower back health today. But if you choose to add just a few of these to your regular routines you’ll be setting your
back up for better health in the long term.

If you’d like to know more about what you can do to protect your lower back, sign up for my free How to Overcome Low-Back Pain Webinar

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