Did you know that typically 8 in 10 people have lower back pain? Lower back pain is not limited to any age group or any gender. Teneil recently gave a great exercise science lesson at the gym about lower back pain and how to deal with it through exercise and proper care.
There are 3 main types of lower back pain that you can experience. One type is acute back pain. Acute pain means you're having pain right now, probably due to an injury. Maybe you added a little too much weight on your bar, or you didn't practice proper form while lifting and you felt an immediate back pain. That's acute pain and what we would tell you is not to push it. When you have sudden, acute back pain, you should take it easy for several days, up to several weeks to let it heal.
If you've had back pain for months, however, that seems to lessen and then return, you have what is called chronic back pain. This needs to be addressed by a professional to help come to the root of the problem and determine a proper level of treatment.
There are some easy habits and behaviors that you can practice in every day life to prevent lower back pain.
1. Proper hydration - the discs between your spine actually need proper hydration to stay maleable and free from injury. This is just another example of why proper hydration is so important to your overall health.
2. Postural correction - You may think that you have proper posture, but many people believe that proper posture entails rolling shoulders back and pushing the chest out to remain upright. In reality, to understand proper posture, simply find a blank wall to lean against. Make sure your heels, backside, shoulders and back of your head are all laying flat against the wall. If this feels entirely unnatural to you, then you may be used to improper posture, but this relaxed, upright position is actual the ideal way to stand.
3. Aides in your workplace - If you work at a desk all day, every day, you may want to ask about a standing desk. If a standing desk isn't an option for you, just make sure you keep your computer at eye level so you're not bending your neck to look down at your screen.
4. Proper sleeping posture - Depending on your preferred sleeping position, you should keep a small pillow underneath your knees, or between your knees if you like to sleep on your side, to help keep the natural curvature of the lower back while you sleep.
5. Diet and nutrition - Believe it or not, proper diet and nutrition are paramount to preventing lower back pain. An increase in obesity pays a large part in the prevelence of lower back pain simply due to people carrying more weight in the front of their bodies, which causes strain on the lower back.
Now that you know what things to watch out for in your day-to-day life, here are some habits to practice at the gym to prevent yourself from hurting your lower back:
1. Proper warm up - Every trainer at T&J starts each class with a long warm up to get your muscles warm, your heart rate up, and oxygen flowing. Proper warm up is instrumental in preventing any injury, not just lower back injury.
2. Core activation/strengthening - You want to make sure you engage your core during every lift you practice, whether it is a squat, all the way to an overhead lift. Engaging your core provides support to your lower back. When you streghthen you core, this only becomes easier and you want to make sure to strengthen your core before attempting to raise weight in lower back exercises.
3. Proper lifting form - It goes without saying that proper form goes a long way to preventing all types of injury. Each trainer at T&J considers proper form as the utmost importance during our classes and we will help you with any form questions you may have to ensure that you do not accidentally injure yourself.
For an even more in-depth lesson about lower back pain, watch Teneil's video below. She provides great demonstrations about the above information and gives even more tips about preventing lower back pain.