Why These 5 Easy Tips Help Avoid Low Back Pain And Keep You From Feeling Like The Left-Out Grandparent

Left Out Grandparent

Your grandchildren are simultaneously your greatest joy and greatest sorrow. I often hear “I have low back pain… what should I do?” Or “how do I fix a lower back strain?” Or even, “What can I do to avoid low back pain in the future?”  When I ask what happened to cause this pain, many of my clients respond with “it was my grandchildren’s fault” or “my grandchildren and I were playing around and my low back went out.” I know this might sound a bit preposterous, but let me explain.

Left Out Grandparent

Our kids or grandchildren love to be active but even more, they love to be active with YOU. Maybe you are getting older, feeling more stiff, losing flexibility or dealing with a nagging pain that slows you down. As some of you may know, low back pain is not easy to live with. 80% of Americans experience low back pain at some point in their life.  You may feel difficulty with getting out of bed, rising from a chair, walking, or even when you are trying to keep up with those high energy grandchildren. They are the love of your life but, gosh darn it, they sure have an immense amount of “go-go-go.”

I wanted to offer some tips on how to avoid lower back strain or reduce your pain if you’ve “pulled your back.” Before I start, if you already have low back pain then this is a medical problem, not a fitness problem. Our team of back pain specialists at LEVEL4 PT & Wellness can help you, so please call and we can offer you specific, expert advice.

Five Fitness Tips To Avoid Low Back Pain

1. Lift Like A Baby

Ever watch a young baby play or pick up something off the ground.  It’s a thing of beauty! As adults, we take the lazy way to lift something off the ground most of the time.  This makes us more vulnerable to low back pain.  This can be detrimental to you and a cause for why you may have low back pain.  Lifting mechanics and posture are commonly used terminology in today’s society, but what do they really mean?

Proper lifting mechanics is keeping the spine in its neutral 3 curve postures. You will keep a slight arch through your lower back and not overly rounding your upper back, and hinging forward at the hips. We need to use a hip hinge movement, which is what so many people forget how to do it. A movement where the muscles of the hip provide the strength, NOT the low back… to lift whatever object you seek… such as your grandchildren… hint hint! It’s the same movement used to do a deadlift, pick something up off the ground, or your little ones.  Look at the video below for proper lifting mechanics of the hip hinge so you can avoid low back pain.   

Deadlift form with stick

2. “A person is as young as his spinal column.” – Joseph Pilates

The best way to create strong trunk muscles and avoid low back pain is through a strong yet specific core exercise program. I bet if you search/Google “core exercise program” you will get a wide variety of exercises, that may be acceptable in the right context.  But how do you know which ones are right for you so you can avoid low back pain?

To make it simple, focus on these 3 things: Position, static stability, and dynamic stability… And in that order. In order to strengthen your core, you must be able to assume the “position.” Then you must maintain that position (static stability). Lastly, you must be able to assume and maintain the position while moving your arms or legs (dynamic stability). You can’t jump to the end (dynamic stability) without the other two first. This is, however, what most people do.  The purpose of a strong core does not only protect your low back from muscle strains but, it allows for adequate energy transfer. This allows for proper energy transfer from your legs through the trunk to your arms. It allows you to walk faster, run farther, and protect your back when you pick up your grandchildren or groceries.

One way to develop these specific core exercise programs to participate in Pilates.  It’s been around long enough and is becoming more readily available to the public.  It’s challenging and really helps to keep you to avoid low back pain by isolating the right muscles in your core, hips, and trunk.  Click the link to see our pilates page: our pilates program embodies this same message.

3. Breath Is The Finest Gift Of Nature

Do you ever find yourself holding your breath when you lift something heavy? Travel bag? Groceries? Laundry basket? Our breathing should stay at a regular pace throughout the day. That is unless we are participating in a strenuous activity for an extended period of time, such as walking or exercising.

By holding your breath, you are employing what is known as the Valsalva maneuver. This technique should only be done by experienced athletes. The Valsalva maneuver places immense pressure on key veins returning blood to the heart. Doing this can cause you to faint, so I highly advise you DO NOT DO IT. Regular, rhythmic breath with a well-trained core will give lifelong benefits for your health and low back. So breath easy!

4. Paradise Is Attained By Touch

Do you wake up with a sore low back or finish your day with one? A gentle massage or foam roll up and down the back can be an excellent way to maintain the extensibility of the back muscles. Also, associating “feel good” activities will give your body perception or a distraction from the muscle soreness.

  • Experts tip: Pain is highly individualized and specific to you. The brain perceives pain and judges what is going on in the body. Sometimes it’s accurate but, your brain can also exaggerate the threat. This is why you need an expert to decipher the two.

The power of a gentle, specific, and soothing massage can help decrease your perceived pain threat.  This in combination with education on pain can help you finally get the good night’s sleep or exercise the way you like.

5. Sitting Is The New Smoking

A sedentary work schedule or lifestyle has left our low back vulnerable to lower back strains, muscle tightness in the hips, and a detriment to our overall health. And of course, low back pain.  When a client tells me they sit for 8 hours a day or more, that is a red flag.

Sitting for prolonged periods of times tremendously increases your risk for cardiovascular disease, obesity, diabetes, and other metabolic diseases. This is why I look at each client’s activity throughout the day and employ strategies to combat this. I recommend you get up every 20-30 mins of sitting. Stand up, stretch out, take a few steps in place, and then keep enjoying whatever activity you were doing. Here a few more tips you can implement today to decrease the stresses of sitting all day long.

How To Avoid Low Back Pain – Conclusion

There you have it, 5 simple things you can implement to build a strong trunk and low back. There is a lot of information out there, but the team at LEVEL4 is here to clear those muddy waters. If you enjoyed this blog and want more information, please call us today about our new and exciting performance and fitness programs to help keep you young, active, and performing your best.

Dedicated to your health,

Dr. Oscar Andalon, DPT, STC, MTC, CSCS< SFMA

Sports Performance Tips GuidePilates Tips Guide

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Oscar Andalon, DPT, STC, MTC, CSCS, CF-L1, MWOD, USAW, FMS/SFMA

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