Preventing Low Back Pain
We know that about 80% of Americans suffer from debilitating low back pain at some point in their life. This fact is staggering, yet it doesn’t have to be this common.
The key to staying out of this group of low back pain sufferers comes down to one word: Prevention. If I had to choose one common problem among all low back pain sufferers, it would be bad low back position during common activities such as brushing your teeth, bending over, picking up a small child, exercising and sitting.
The lumbar spine, which is the lower part of the spine, is meant to have a natural curve to it that displaces the forces of gravity, weight, etc. evenly and minimally. When this natural curve is straightened, or reduced, the forces on the discs, muscles, and ligaments of the low back are significantly increased. For example, sitting without maintaining the natural curve increases the forces on those structures by 30-40%!
Body Preparation and Positioning
Sternum Up- Keeping the sternum up automatically sets the body into the good posture and maintains:
Neutral Spine: Maintaining good spinal alignment decreases the stress placed on the spine and discs.
Hip Hinging: Bending at the hips, and not the low back, decreases the stress placed on the low back and increases strength & power.
Power Zone- The zone that will optimize lifting strength and injury reduction.
a. Bend your elbows at a 90-degree angle, and you are in the “Primary Power Zone.” Keep things when lifting close to the body.
b. The area up to the shoulders and down to the hips is acceptable.
c. The more you can work in the “power zone” the less fatigue on your body
2. Abdominal Bracing- When all of your core muscles work together, a "Super Stiffness" occurs, and all three layers of the abdominal wall are activated to protect and stabilize the spine and discs.
·Without bending forward, contract the abdominal muscles (like you are about the get punched in your gut - feel them tighten with one hand) and the buttock muscles (as if you are holding in a bowel movement). You will feel the lower back muscles contract (with the other hand) when you contract your abs and buttocks. Abdominal bracing does note mean sucking in.