Exercise Three Common Causes of Lower Back Pain and What to Do

Common Causes of Lower Back Pain

We all deal with back pain in one way or another. It can ruin your plans for an entire day or even worse!

Whether acute or chronic, these are the 3 most common causes of back pain, and ways to alleviate that pain at the moment and prevent it from coming back!

Most Common Causes of Back Pain and Exercises To Prevent It

1. Posture

This is a big topic and can mean a lot of different things for different people, but one way or another most posture problems lead to back pain eventually. This is typically the #1 reason in one form or another. You’ll notice the rest of the article will relate back to posture a lot!

Let’s take a look at different types of posture to consider. Correcting posture, unfortunately, isn’t as simple as sitting up a little straighter sometimes.  Your posture when you sit, stand, walk and even sleep can be causes of your back pain.

Bare with me this is going to get a bit technical for just a second. If you’re experiencing pain in your low back, take a moment to look at the posture in your upper back and hips. Upper back posture is what we all think of, it’s the posture our mother always yelled at us about “sit up straight”, “don’t slouch”, she knew what she was talking about! So how exactly does my upper back hurt my lumbar? Well in short your spine has a job to do: support your body weight.

Unfortunately, the joints in your upper back are sleeping on the job and your lumbar is working twice as hard. That pain you’re feeling is your low back complaining to the boss about a lazy coworker. But what about your hips? Our hips can either have too much of anterior tilt, or posterior tilt.

Anterior means your hips are tilted forward and can look like you are sticking your butt way out, usually accompanied by your ribs flaring up. This can cause a “pinching” in your lower back. Posterior tilt means your hips are tucked under and can make it look like you are sticking your belly out, usually accompanied by slouching shoulders. – (I’ll delve into this topic more in my next article)

Fortunately, the solution is less complicated than the explanation.

Solution:

Try these exercises to improve posture in the hips and upper back:

  • Kneeling Hip tilts
  • Leg Lowering
  • Static Crab
  • Pretzel Stretch

If you’re unfamiliar with any of these feel free to message me, I’m happy to help! Or do a quick search on Google or YouTube.

Daily Behavioral Activities

This one is huge! We can be amazing at getting to the gym but even if you hit the gym 5 days a week for an hour, there’s still 163 hours remaining in your week! If you aren’t doing anything within that time to reduce your pain and improve your posture, a change will never happen you’ll be stuck in an endless cycle and not only will it never improve, it will only get worse.

This is as simple as balancing your movement

For example, If you have a job that has you stuck at a desk all day or always traveling, your hips and shoulders are forced into the poor posture discussed above for long periods of time. Incorporate more activity at work to counteract this by setting an alarm to get a drink of water, go to the restroom, anything to stand up and get moving! 

If you’re stuck in meetings and that’s not an option, plan to take the stairs that day instead of the elevator or park further away from the entrance to get some more steps in.

2. Another example is how you sleep

If we are not sleeping in an ideal position, our neck or lower back can suffer, or both! Something I am guilty of is sleeping on my side but I end up twisted up like a wet towel you’re trying to wring out, and my back is not happy with me the next day. Ideally, we sleep in a position that keeps our hips and shoulders in alignment with each other so our lower back is not put in an uncomfortable position and remain there for the duration of your night of sleep.

Now, sleeping with perfect posture is a pretty difficult (if not impossible) task and we can’t really control how we move when we sleep, so I don’t expect you to sleep like a statue. However, if you apply the exercises I recommend throughout this article, it will help immensely!

3. Lack of Core Strength/Engagement

This and posture go together, in short, because if your core is under active, the lower back is having to pick up the slack, therefore being overworked. Your core is not only your abs, but it’s also your lower back, glutes, muscles between your ribs, etc.

Solution: Start with these simple, core strengthening exercises 3x a week!

  • planks from forearms or hands
  • glute bridges/hip thrusts
  • warding pattern

Gym Exercises to Correct Your Posture While You Workout 

Up to this point, I have intentionally only listed activities you can easily do at home, but doing some strengthening exercises are very important too! Here are a few exercises to add to your workout that can both improve your posture and help you reach your fitness goals!

Farmers carry

This exercise forces you to get out of that hunched over posture and stay nice and tall. My clients always say they think of me when they are carrying groceries, glad I could help.

Seated row

Not only is it requiring that you remain seated upright with proper posture, but it is also getting your back muscles firing and doing their job. As humans, we are just by default very anterior (front of our body). We are always on our phones, driving, working at a desk, walking forward, etc. This puts us in a pretty rounded, forward posture. The seated row corrects all these things.

Deadlifts (Yes, really!)

You might read that and think okay, this guy is an idiot. Why would I go deadlift when my back is killing me, that’s the last thing I want to do. Fair enough, but hear me out.

I’m not saying load up a barbell with a couple of hundred pounds. Deadlifting comes in so many different variations! It is one of, if not the most functional exercise you can do for yourself. Do you know what a deadlift looks like in real life? Picking up anything off the ground, your bags, random box, your child, etc.

Deadlifting is something we do every single day, it’s unavoidable. So we might as well practice it in the gym in a controlled environment and become efficient at it so we don’t hurt ourselves out in the real world.

All these suggestions are generally a great start, but everyone is different. I’d love to speak with you 1 on 1 to learn what specifically what could help you!

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