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Exercising with Lower Back Pain

Yesterday I woke up with lower back pain.

It has been a while since that friend has visited me.

It was Thursday and it was workout day so I did not want to miss my workout.

Let me share with you what I did to get my workout in while still having my unwelcome visitor, lower back pain.

Quantifying My Lower Back Pain

My back pain was bugging me.

I was stiff and sore but I could move around and work a full day.

It was not so bad that it put me on my back or into bed.

In the past I would have passed on my workout and took the day off but I knew that exercising and moving would help my back pain.

#1 – Focused on Compression

I focused on compression when it came to the spine.

Sitting up straight, putting compression on the spine, helps (and a sore back can handle, in most cases).

Therefore, when I went to the gym, I focused on doing machine exercises that involved sitting.

The machines have back and head supports that allowed me to keep my spine upright and in good alignment.

The exercises that I did were:

  • Chest press
  • Narrow row
  • Shoulder press
  • Wide row

My back handled me doing all the exercises.

#2 – Stayed Vertical

I worked on keeping my spine vertical.  This goes hand and hand with the point above.  The back can handle compression, but when you move out of a vertical position and hinge at the hips or flex through the back, this puts greater stress on the back. Often times what happens is the muscle in the lower back over-contract and increase the pain.

For example, it is difficult to do leg exercises in a perfectly upright position.  What I did was a ball squat against the wall.  This keeps my spine vertical and my back liked the ball pressing into it.  Plus I was able to work my legs.

#3 – No World Records

Today was not a day to push as hard as I could.

That was the way that I could make my back pain worse.

I took things down a notch when it came to my regular workout, for weight, reps, and sets.

I let my body and back let me know how much it could handle.

I ended up getting in about 80% of my regular workout, so I was happy with that.

#4 – No Abdominal or Core Work

This was not the day for abdominal work, as it would go against #1 and #2 mentioned above.

I did not want to put any extra stress or strain on my lower back so I avoided this for the day.

#5 – Bilateral Exercises

Today was a day of exercises that involved bilateral movements.

This means all the exercises involved both arms performing the exercises.

I was not doing single arm bicep curls or one arm bench row.

Everything involved both arms working.  This took away any rotation torque or force on the spine.

The chest press, narrow row, shoulder press, and wide row were all done with both arms and in isolation.

#6 – Worked on Mobility Exercises

What happens with the back is things tighten up throughout the spine.

Both the spine and the muscles around the spine tighten up.

With my lower back pain, I knew if I let the areas above my lower back (mid-back) and below my lower back (hips and pelvis) tighten up, this would put greater stress on my lower back. The mid back and pelvic areas are stronger when it relates to stiffness compared to the lower back.

In the body, the weakest joint gets the stress.

I took the time between sets to move my middle back side-to-side, rotate, and move forwards and backwards.

I also worked on moving my hips in all 6 ranges of motion in order to keep the muscles lengthened and related.

#7 – Kept on Moving

For the rest of the day, I tried to move around more than usual and work on my mobility work for my hips and mid-back.

Today, I am feeling a lot better. A little bit of lower back muscle soreness, but I can handle that.

Now it is off to play with the kids on Good Friday.  The kids got a plasma car and bike for Easter.  It should be fun.

Have a great day, weekend, and Easter.

Rick Kaselj, MS


This entry was posted on Friday, April 6th, 2012 at 4:04 pm and is filed under Uncategorized. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.