The Approach To Lower Back Exercises Everyone Should Take
Poor endurance in “core muscles” or any muscles charged with the roll of fighting against the effects of gravity can leave you unable to hold good sitting and standing postures over extended periods. A failure to maintain good alignment and positioning when sitting and standing with continued or prolonged periods of poor posture can increase the stress on your spine and in many can be a precursor to pain and/or injury. When training your back a the home, gym or park and doing your lower back exercises it is good practice to not only increase “strength” of your back, spine, trunk, core whatever you want to call it…But not only is training strength and power beneficial it is also pertinent to train your “core” with endurance in mind. Training muscles to be better equipped to sustain their contraction and postural control over long periods of time can go a long way to helping improve posture and manage postural related pains.
Your back and its associated muscles have to support you all day every day, in a variety of positions so it doesn’t make a lot of sense that training said muscles in chunks of 3 sets of 10 reps with big breaks in-between will have the desired impact of improving the ability of these postural muscles to support your spine throughout the day. Muscles trained this way may visually “pop” and aesthetically look better but functionally may not provide much benefit when it comes to posture. Increasing the endurance of deep back and abdominal muscles with the intention of increasing spinal stability, endurance and optimal positional awareness in many circumstances can ultimately help reduce low back pain.
Positions To Avoid With Lower Back Exercises
Ideally you want to keep your back in its neutral alignment, this refers to the position you imagine your back would be in when you are standing upright holding “good posture”. When exercising your “core” and specifically when adding load to your core strengthening training with weight be it via cables, bands, medicine balls, dumbbells’… you should endeavor to avoid being either flexed forward fully, slumped forward as if sitting with a C shaped spine, or stooped forward in standing (leaning forward in a way similar to that when ironing or brushing your teeth). All these postures place more stress on your spine, specifically your low lumbar discs. Leaning forward like this or sitting slumped like this lifting or holding a weight can increase lumbar lumbar disc pressures by 2-3 times that of standing upright. A couple of quick example of exercises if not performed with care that can have this impact on your lumbar discs is doing a weighted “Russian Twist” or a “full sit up”.
Squatting And Deadlifts
Squats and deadlifts are considered dangerous exercises for the lower back by some. ‘Yes’ it is true that heavy load with these exercises, especially when performed with improper technique may lead to injury. However ultimately a squat or deadlift are great exercises for neuromuscular training of the body, both exercises that assist in helping individuals master correct bending and lifting technique. Reinforcing the goal of carrying out bending movements whilst maintaining neutral spinal posture. They are functional exercises that can help engrain correct lifting technique where the individual is committed to maintaining a neutral posture throughout the movement. Squats and deadlifts are fantastic at strengthening your big “prime movers” like your gluteus maximus, quadriceps and hamstrings but also the deep stabilisers of your hips and spine. Therefore it is in my opinion that a good back/core strengthening program whatever you wish to label it should ideally include some appropriately weighted compound movements like squats and deadlifts.
Some potential variations if you feel you aren’t quite ready for squats and deadlifts just yet, could be to include exercises like wall sits, Swiss Ball wall squats, bridging, Swiss ball bridging exercises. These and similar exercises encourage very comparable muscle activation as squats and deadlifts and can be worked on with the intention of progressing, or simply as a variation on one of your training days.
Your Muscles Don’t Recognise Holidays
If you are starting out doing squats and deadlifts for the first time then you should always engage the services of a personal trainer, physiotherapist or equally qualified professional to assess and guide you on technique. Performed as a home exercise controlled unweighted deadlifts and squats can be worked into a program with any other more isolated deep spinal and abdominal exercises. When unweighted performing variations of a classic squat or dead lift by turning it into a single leg version can further assist with building postural control really targeting your stabilising muscles throughout the body. Incorporating some squats and deadlifts as part of a circuit, allowing little break between exercises to add to the endurance aspect of the session can really help assist in your postural training.
Building muscular endurance comes through training frequency as well as how you train throughout each individual session. Performing lower back exercises with endurance in mind could be molded into your ‘life routine’ done every day. As the heading suggests muscles don’t recognise holidays our bodies are designed to move and move often.
When Is The Best Time To Train Lower Back Exercises?
In the morning your intervertebral discs are in their fully hydrated state. Overnight when you are resting and lying down the uncompressed disc can reabsorb all the fluid that gets “pumped” out of them during the day. Therefore in the morning your disc are full, larger, less flexible and somewhat of a ticking time bomb after a night of rest. That is all a bit dramatic and not exactly what is going on, but given there is potentially more pressure in a fully hydrated disc first thing in the morning, I would suggest for safer training particularly in the 35-55 age group who make up the lions share of disc pain sufferers, that when possible lower back exercises training is performed later in the day. At least a couple of hours after rising, when your discs are a bit less hydrated, more pliable and hopefully at less risk of being injured.
Disclaimer: Sydney Physio Clinic provides this information as an educational service. The information contained on this website and in this blog is not intended to serve as or replace actual medical advice. Anyone seeking specific advice or assistance should consult their local Physio, general practitioner, medical specialist, or otherwise appropriately skilled practitioner.