Lower Back Pain and Strong Lower Back Muscles
I have been a physical therapist and personal trainer for more than 10 years. So many people come into the gym and tell me that they need to strengthen their abdominal muscles to take pressure off their lower back.
Now it is true that the abdominal muscles help to support the lower back, but guess what. The lower back muscles are just as important if not more important! Before we get into it, let me say that lower back pain is complex, and you should see a licensed health professional before beginning any exercise program.
Okay, let us talk about how strong lower back muscles help to support the lower back. There have been numerous studies on lower back pain, but it is pretty well documented that people with chronic lower back pain show a wasting away (atrophy) of the deep lower back muscles.
In addition to atrophied lower back muscles, people with chronic lower back pain also have weakness in the lower back muscles. This seems pretty straight forward. People with chronic back pain have smaller and weaker lower back muscles, so one potential solution is to build up and strengthen the lower back muscles.
Here are 2 main ways having a strong lower back support and protect the spine.
First, having strong lower back muscles helps to support good posture. In this day of computers and cubicles, so many people sit all day long. When you are sedentary or sit for prolonged periods of time your spine tends to curve and fall forwards.
If you have seen older adults hunched over, then you might understand what age and gravity does to our spines. Some of the changes come from the vertebrae, cartilage and discs, but some of it also comes from the muscles.
The back muscles help to keep your spine erect and straight. When the lower back muscles are weak, the spine will have a tendency to move out of alignment more easily. Strong lower back muscles help to maintain good posture, and this takes pressure off the joints.
Secondly, having strong lower muscles can protect the lower back from muscle strains. Muscle strains are a common lower back injury. Generally, muscles strains occur when people lift heavy or awkward objects or when things are lifted with incorrect technique.
A strain simply means that the muscle was worked beyond what it was capable of handling. If your lower back muscles are strong then you will be able to lift heavier objects without the same risk of injury.
I have seen the simplest things cause muscles strains in the lower back–2 year olds, a medium size box of books, and even a gallon of milk. Everyone has to lift things from time to time, and a great way to protect your lower back is to strengthen your lower back muscles.
Again, let me emphasize that lower back pain is complex. If you want the healthiest lower back, you should take a comprehensive approach to fitness.
Focus on ab exercises, lower back exercises, flexibility and postural exercises, and sitting and lifting techniques. The best way to protect your back is to stay fit and stay active, so start exercising today!