This is the third in a three-part series on anatomy, back pain and solutions. To see the first of three to learn more about anatomy, click here. The second - an intro to the common issues - is here. These blogs were written by Earth Fed Elite and PA-C Matt Shaw. It is not intended to diagnose or treat disease or injury, but to provide you with a solid foundation for health and fitness!
At this point, I imagine you have recognized a common theme here. First, a thorough clinical exam by an experienced healthcare provider is important to establish an accurate diagnosis and plan. Initial treatment involves a BRIEF period of rest and pain control. A proper rehab program and/or correction of technique are the keys to long-term success. Finally, surgery should be left as a last resort when all conservative measures fail, unless there are overt neurologic deficits.
At the end of the day, the root cause of pain needs to be addressed to prevent recurrence in the future. When it comes to rehab, there is no such thing as a universal routine for all. It is very important to work with your medical providers to individualize your plan. A power lifter and gymnast may have the same disc herniation diagnosis on paper, but due to the significantly different demands, their rehab will be quite different. For more on back rehab, I would recommend reading the work of Dr. Stuart McGill.
Is there anything better then resolving your back pain?
Yes! Not getting back pain in the first place. Fortunately for you, I have a nice list of preventative steps to help minimize risk.
- Mobility and strengthening exercises
- Healthy weight management
- Diet and nutrition
- Proper technique
- Smoking cessation (Hopefully avoided in the first place)
As previously mentioned, rehab needs to be individualized towards each athlete’s goals. Similarly, regular training and preventative maintenance exercises are no different. Exercises such as planks, side planks, hollow holds, and unilateral farmer carries are excellent selections for isometrics to build stability. Exercises such a deadlifts, straight leg deadlifts, single leg deadlift, good mornings, back extensions, kettle bell swings, mason twists, dead bugs and bird dogs can help build strength and balance. When performing mobility exercises and stretches, static holds should be held for a minimum of 30 seconds. Longer stretches can target deeper soft tissue structures such as fascia and joint capsules. Also remember, every repetition matters. It is important to focus just as much on technique during light warm up sets as your heaviest lift. EFM's FREE YogaFIT Program is designed for mobility in the spine and beyond, and can serve as a great supplement for mobility work.
I can confidently say no one wants to experience low back pain. Just like your car needs oil changes, tire rotations and inspections, your body needs its own type of tender loving care. Consistent core strengthening, proper mechanics, stretching, appropriate warm-ups, diet/nutrition and sleep are all key components to avoid injury. If you are anything like me, a busy schedule can make it difficult to hit all of our nutritional needs. Fortunately for us, Earth Fed Muscle can help fill the gaps with their clean line of supplements. From whey protein and collagen to morning ritual and forty winkz, your nutritional needs are covered from sunrise to sunset.