Recently, in an online forum for fitness professionals to share ideas, a member asked about how to train someone with nonspecific low back pain that frequently came along with exercise. The official diagnosis was simply lumbar pain.
There was no injury present, and no contraindicated movements indicated by a physician or physical therapist. Just pain.
Most of the suggestions were stretches and stability work, or avoiding movements that cause pain.
While this is good general advice, I don’t believe it’s the advice of a good trainer.
I suggested deadlifts, and was scoffed at, then ignored in the conversation. Even after explaining that teaching a proper deadlift is a fundamental movement that carries over to daily life in more ways than I care to list here, and not focusing on heavy weight, but good technique, stretching and foam rollers were the primary winners of the conversation.
We are wired to avoid pain. If I simply tell you not do do anything that causes pain, then I don’t believe I’ve earned your business.
I don’t want you in pain, let me explain…
I want to know why it hurts to move. If there isn’t a diagnosis telling me what is causing the pain, chances are it’s something we can fix through movement. Movement is medicine.
If you don’t deadlift well, you don’t pick up around the house well, you don’t, get in and out of the car well, and I’ll bet your toilet sitting form is jacked up, too.
That’s not meant to be mean. It’s meant to be encouraging in that, if your back is always bugging you, there’s a good chance you just need to learn a simple movement pattern: The Hip Hinge.
It worked for me, and I’ve applied it and seen it work for my clients as well.
Here’s a little drill for you to try:
1.Stand up, hands in front of your hips, arms extended. Feet at jump width.
2.Push your butt back until your hands are at your knees.
3.Reach your hands around to the back of your legs
4.Keeping your butt back, bend your knees until your hands reach your calves
5.Let your hands hang in front
You should have a triangle from your shoulders to your butt, to your knees.
Now we create tension, so you can build muscle instead of stress joints. We’re going to work from the bottom up, so be sure to hold each point of tension as you add on.
6.Isometrically dial your feet outward.
7.Brace your abs
8.Make yourself as long as possible from the tailbone to the crown of the head. Your neck should be in line with your spine.
9.Rotate your shoulder as if you were trying to squeeze your armpit.
10.Lock your elbows.
11.Crush your grip.
12.Shift your weight back and hammer up.
That’s a lot of steps, but it’s the easiest way I’ve found to break down the concept of applying tension to strengthen the body as a unit and prevent easily avoidable injuries.
People don’t usually get hurt going for personal best deadliest. It’s usually a result of bad technique with light weights.
Practice the technique, and lift everything as if it’s heavy, and you’ll move with more power and protect your joints and connective tissue.
If you’re currently in pain, rest, and do not try this until the pain has subsided.
As always, I’m available for coaching if you want further instruction on how to master your movement!