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Training with back pain may only require a simple modification

Back pain remains as one of the leading causes of disability worldwide and according to research, over 70% of people will experience back pain at some point in their lives.

When back pain is measured among such a large number of people, it is impossible for each person to specify the different ways in which their back pain presents.

When treating physical therapy patients with back pain, we see this pain present in many different ways. Since we treat such active people, our patients are very aware of the different movements that elicit their symptoms.

Many times, picking objects off the floor, aka deadlifts, produce their back pain. During these movements, the body bends over by folding at the hips. This moves the spine into a position that is horizontal relative to the ground, resulting in more shearing forces within the spine. Shearing force is the force of one vertebra wanting to move forward or backward relative to the one above or below it.

For many others, squatting movements are problematic, specifically when squatting with resistance (such as when lifting weights). When squatting the spine is vertically oriented (compared to a deadlift) resulting in more vertical compression against gravity.

Do you have back pain? If so, is it worse when picking things up off the ground or when squatting with resistance?

If it is worse when picking things up off the floor, aka deadlifting, you may want to consider replacing deadlift exercises with squatting variations within your training program. While this should not be a permanent solution, it can help you get out of pain while addressing the root causes of the issue.

If your pain worsens when squatting with resistance, you may want to consider switching to more single leg squatting variations in place of double leg squats. Once again, this should not be a permanent solution (although single leg exercises are awesome!), however it can help you get out of pain while addressing the root cause of your pain.

For help addressing the root cause of your pain, simply contact us!

What you can do from home to accelerate your training

couple walking outside

When the COVID-19 pandemic began I was feeling stressed and was anxious. Old aches and pains were even returning!

I was no longer prioritizing my own fitness routine, causing me to be more sedentary than usual. This combination of stress and decreased daily movement caused my old back injury from college to become slightly noticeable again.

This was a powerful reminder of the importance of taking care of myself.

I now make sure to prioritize my morning routine which includes meditation, journaling, and most importantly (at least for me), exercise.

While I do enjoy an intense workout, many days I simply go on a long walk followed by 10-15 minutes of light continuous movement using only my body weight.

My back feels great and the most importantly, I am reaping the positive physical and mental health benefits of exercise.

And while my workout routine works well for me, it might not work for others. Your self-care routine is specific to you. What activities help you to feel and function at your best?

Despite the differences, we often find that a variation of physical activity is helpful. I won’t bore you the science of why, however, if you are interested I am happy to share it!

Below are 3 exercises that are fantastic for you to try at home. They are helpful for anyone that suffers from a cranky lower back, is looking to feel better, and/or improve their fitness.

-Heels Elevated Goblet Squat (no weights at home? No problem! Simply hold a backpack filled with books or a jug of water): start with 3 sets of 8-10 reps

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i-os3nvr23s

-Bear Position Hold: 3 sets of 5 breathing cycles

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A9IJ2b_GbF4

-Goblet Split squat (use a weight or the same tool from exercise #1): start with 3 sets of 8-10 per side

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aazACzyUR-Q

-Dr. Zachary Cohen PT, DPT, CSCS