Pain in the Back...
One of the most common issues our Dubai personal trainers are faced with is client that have constant, nagging back pain.
It sucks. Kills your progress in the gym, and takes away from your life outside it.
Lucky for you, fixing back pain isn’t as daunting as it seems.
After collectively delivering over 500,000 personal training sessions - our Dubai personal trainers note it usually is caused from any combination of the following:
- Tight hip flexors
- Poor core stability
- Weakness and/or inability to recruit the glutes
All these add up to what’s referred to as “anterior pelvic tilt” (APT).
Basically, back arched forward, butt sticking out.
Think of that pose you do for the ‘gram to make your booty look bigger.
APT usually comes from sitting/sedentary lifestyle/poor posture. These lifestyle factors usually lead to:
- Tight hip flexors
- Weak and/or poor mind-muscle connection to glutes and hamstrings
- Quad dominance. The quads (on the front of the legs) do most of the work for the lower body. You become very “quad dominant”.
As the quads and hip flexors get unproportionately stronger/stiffer than the glutes and hamstrings, something called reciprocal inhibition takes places.
Reciprocal inhibition: when muscles on one side of a joint relaxing to accommodate contraction on the other side of that joint.
In this case, the glutes and hamstrings are weak and lengthened due to the opposing muscle groups, the quads and hip flexors, being strong and tight. This causes the pelvis to tilt forward, creating lots of arch in the low back. And also lots of low back pain.
Ok, so enough about the tilt. Let’s get to how ICAN PT help with fixing this issue.
Most of us spend the day seated, which leads to tight hip flexors.
The psoas is the biggest/strongest muscle of the hip flexor. It attaches from the lumbar vertebrae to the femur (from your spine to your leg bone). A tight psoas will constantly pull forward on your spine, contributing to anterior pelvic tilt. This needs to be taken care of ASAP.
Great hip flexor stretches:
Beginner hip flexor stretch: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=STH1aNooP1w
Advanced hip flexor stretch: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=heqIqJvaPak
The cat cow stretch is also a great stretch for improving your back health. It takes the spine through flexion and extension, stretching and mobilizing it.
Our ICAN PT Dubai personal trainers always split your core work into two groups
- Ab hypertrophy work: lots of people do this. Crunches, knee raises, and the like. Focused on “the burn” and making your abs look good
- Core stability work: Core work with a focus on bracing and anti-rotation. Planks, loaded carries, pallof presses, etc. Less sexy stuff.
Our Ican trainers teach all clients that having a stable core is a must to prevent back pain. When you can properly activate the muscles around the spine, much less stress is put on the actual spine itself.
A stable core also keeps the spine in the safest position possible when loaded with heavy weights.
Pelvic tilts: These strengthen your abs, and help you use the core muscles to push the pelvis into a neutral position. When carried over to movements like squats and deadlifts, the low back is safest in this position.
Dead bugs: taking your pelvic tilts to the next level, dead bugs are an excellent way to teach yourself how to move the limbs, all while: a) properly bracing the abs b) keeping the spine and pelvis in the safest position.
Dead bugs: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rbemelnkHag
Yes, breathing. This is a crazy neglected part of back health.
You need strong core muscles. But to really stabilize the spine, you need the ability to create lots of “intra-abdominal pressure”.
Picture a plastic water bottle. No lid on, the bottle can easily be crushed. However, with the lid on, the air inside pushes out against the walls of the bottle when you apply pressure, keeping it from collapsing. This is the best way to explain what we are trying to create when bracing the abdominal wall during exercise.
Finally, let’s take care of that booty. Glute activation is a number 1 priority in all ICAN PT Dubai programmes.
Inability to fire the glutes during the “hip hinge” movement pattern is a huge contributor to lower back pain.
The hinge is basically just pushing your hips backwards as you allow the knees to bend, and then returning ‘em forward.
Problem is, if your glutes aren’t firing from the back of your hinge, other muscles are going to take over. Usually it’s your low back muscles that get overloaded by much of the work that your glutes should be doing. And thus we have back pain, strains, etc.
So learning how to fire your glutes when needed is huge, 3 simple movements our ICAN Dubai personal trainers recommend are;
Single leg glute bridges
Hip abduction exercises
For more information on these exercises or anything discussed in this blog reach out to any of our Dubai personal trainers and get achieving your fitness goals on a trailers ICAN PT program.