Fitness Fundamentals to Prevent Low Back Pain
In October, I investigated the topic of fitness training and prevention of low back pain with a few of the leading fitness professionals in Boca Raton, FL. I was able to interview Matt Close of Pure Health & Fitness, Paul Christopher of Gravity & Oxygen Fitness, and Wade Waddick of Evolution Fitness and they provided insightful concepts and tips.
In my 12 years of practice, I have always maintained great relationships with trusted fitness providers in my community to help co-manage the patient. I truly believe that fitness is a vital extension of healthcare and a good fitness trainer can do just as much for your health as a Doctor (excluding emergency procedures ?).
I believe that people who have never had back pain, currently have back pain, suffered from back pain in the past, and have had back surgery will benefit from a proper fitness routine.
Before we dive into what our experts said in our interviews, I want to provide you with a foundation of why fitness is so instrumental in your musculoskeletal health. From Spine-Health.com, this summary of fitness and health reveals how valuable regular exercise can be for your spine amongst other aspects of health and wellness.
Benefits of Exercise
When done in a controlled, progressive manner, exercises for relieving back pain have many benefits, including:
- Strengthening the muscles that support the spine, removing pressure from the spinal discs and facet joints
- Alleviating stiffness and improving mobility
- Improving circulation to better distribute nutrients through the body, including to the spinal discs
- Releasing endorphins, which can naturally relieve pain. A frequent release of endorphins can help reduce reliance on pain medication. Endorphins can also elevate mood and relieve depressive symptoms, a common effect of chronic pain.
- Minimizing the frequency of back or neck pain episodes, and reducing the severity of pain when it does occur
Exercise as Prescription for Back Pain
An effective program of back exercises should be comprehensive, working the whole body even as it targets the back. Exercise can be thought of as any other health prescription: A qualified health professional will customize exercise based on a variety of factors. These factors typically include:
- the clinical diagnosis
- whether the pain is considered mild, moderate, or severe
- the pain relief necessary to tolerate activity
- the frequency of prescribed exercises
- the correct form and healthy posture needed for performing exercises
Integrating Exercise with Medical Treatment
- Exercise and fitness are necessary for healing existing back problems, recovering from back surgery, and especially for keeping the back healthy to help prevent (or at least lessen) future episodes of back pain.
- Ideally, an exercise and fitness program should be integrated during most phases of treatment for pain relief and to improve the overall health of patients. If the pain is severe, however, patients may first need to be treated for the pain before starting a back-exercise program.
I encourage you to watch each of the short videos below for full digestion of what our experts provided to our community. I will provide bulleted points on their key points. Demonstration of some valuable exercises is in the videos for you to implement.
Interview with Matt Close
Matt’s Key Takeaways
- Start with health questionnaire and then an assessment and check the person’s movement patterns.
- Check for mobility in certain movements and make sure there are no glaring left and right asymmetries.
- Corrective exercises should be intertwined with the fitness program
- Single leg exercises for hip stability will help spare the low back.
- Time is always a factor in building a training and corrective exercise program.
- “Movement is the Medicine”
- Matt’s Spinal Exercises
- Single Leg Dead Lift
- Cats and Dogs
- T-Spine Rotations
- Lunge Position Rows
Interview with Paul Christopher
Paul’s Key Takeaways
- Paul blends his background as an Athletic Trainer with Fitness.
- Many people are not maintaining healthy positions throughout the day, such as sitting.
- Mobility and stability can offset the negative aspects of sitting.
- Overactivity and underactivity are the two main problems causing low back pain.
- Start with mobility in all three directions before loading the body
- Lateral flexion
- Pelvic tilting is a key movement of the pelvis
- The assessment is the exercise, and the exercise is the assessment.
- How many things Can you do, versus Can’t do in the gym due to your pain.
- Pain is a signal that something is wrong and your body is trying to tell you that.
- Triangle of fitness
- Step 1: Stability is the base of the triangle
- Step 2: Strength
- Step 3: Power
- Cat and Camel
- Quadruped Reachbacks
- Tri-Planar Hip Flexor Stretches
- Half-Kneeling Pelvic Tilts
- Body Blade Core Work
- Rotational Hand Presses
Interview with Wade Waddick
Wade’s Key Takeaways
- Stimulate not annihilate
- the 8-12-minute warm-up is designed to get the body through all the movement patterns.
- Body weight squat
- Downward facing dog
- Knee hugs, hip openers
- Rotational drills
- Runners and Triathletes need cross-training to help prevent injury.
- Overweight and obesity can lead to musculoskeletal injury. Losing weight can help prevent low back pain.
- Group training will increase comradery and accountability, which leads to results.
- The movement will fix a lot of your health issues.
- Bodywork and self-care is the key to injury prevention and will enhance what you are doing in the gym.
Fitness and Treatment Considerations with Dr. Kevin Christie
Dr. Christie’s Key takeaways
- Selective Functional Movement Assessment (SFMA) figures out movement patterns from a clinical standpoint.
- The SFMA is a head-to-toe assessment to help bridge the gap from injury to return to sport or activities of daily living.
- Cervical Spine ROM
- Shoulder Mobility Test
- Toe Touch Test
- Standing Back Extension
- Standing Torso Rotation
- Single Leg Stance
- Overhead Deep Squat
- Ankle Dorsiflexion, Hip Stability of the muscles, Hip Mobility of the joint, Core Stability, Thoracic Spine Mobility are key to preventing low back pain.
Whether you are an avid athlete, desk jockey or active lifestyle person, integrating proper fitness with corrective exercises and body work is the key to preventing low back pain and other musculoskeletal conditions. I hope you gleaned some valuable insights to implement immediately for better health.