Death, Taxes, & Back Pain
Low back pain is so common it has earned the title of “the common cold of the musculoskeletal system”.
So inevitable, that Ben Franklin’s famous comment…
“Nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.”
should have included…
“and back pain.”
According to a 2010 study, up to 90% of people will experience back pain at some point in their life (ref). Meaning it will be something that we all have to deal with.
Unfortunately the bad news doesn’t stop there…
When you have an episode of back pain, there is a 25% likelihood of having another episode of pain within the next year (ref).
Despite the bleak outlook, there is good news!
Experiencing back pain does not mean a lifetime of pain and limited function. There are many simple and effective ways to address your low back pain when it occurs. To help with that, we’ll show you a few of the staples from our 30 Day Back Fix Program to add to your daily routine.
But first, it’s important to have an understanding of why back pain occurs.
Why Does Back Pain Occur?
General non-specific pain is the most common type of low back pain. It’s described as a low back ache, soreness, or pain; and usually not caused by a specific event. It’s unpredictable and can begin without warning.
The many causes of back pain are as varied as the people who experience it. There are often a combination of factors involved, but most people with non-specific low back pain will fall into 1 of 2 categories:
- Back pain caused by lack of motion, or hypomobility.
- Back pain caused by excessive motion, or hypermobility.
Hypomobility is the medical term to describe a person’s lack of motion. For those experiencing low back pain, this presents as a restriction in the lumbar spine.
The lumbar spine acts like a spring by absorbing forces that go through it. When the spine lacks motion, it cannot achieve it’s natural spring like structure, which leads to aches and pains.
Here are a few exercises that we use in our 30 Day Back Fix to help improve movement and range of motion of the spine:
Knees to Chest
Back issues are often accompanied by muscle spasms that limit mobility and generate pain. This exercise stretches the muscles in and around your low back, many times providing immediate relief from low back pain.
Thoracic Flexion & Extension
This exercise slowly increases mobility by progressively adding movement to each vertebrae with each repetition.
This exercises allows the spine to gain more rotational motion, which is important for the function of the back.
On the other end of the spectrum are those who are hypermobile, or have excessive motion of the spine. This leads to instability of the spinal segments, especially during movement, which eventually leads to pain.
The fix is to strengthen the muscles of the hips and core, which are key to providing stability for the spine. Here are a few exercises that we use as part of our Hip & Core System that target the weak links that lead to low back pain:
The segmental bridge strengthens the glutes and low back muscles, which are crucial for lumbar stability.
The plank hold is the ultimate low back stabilization exercise for activating the core, low back, and glutes.
Side Plank Clamshell
A staple to our Hip & Core Strength Program, this exercise isolates your glutes and activates the core stabilizers needed to stabilize the spine.
Here Today Gone Tomorrow
Even if back pain is the norm, you shouldn’t expect to live with it! Unlike death and taxes, you can make a decision to do something about it.
But before jumping into an exercise program, it’s important to look for signs of bigger issues behind your pain. Things like numbness or tingling in your legs, or pain extending down one or both legs, should receive further medical evaluation.
Take a look the Red Flag Screen we use as part of our 30 Day Back Fix. This will help identify signs of more serious medical issues that should be evaluated by a medical professional before beginning a self rehab program: Take the Red Flag Screen.