The first hurtle in conquering back pain is to determine its cause(s). Locating the cause of your back pain and developing a core training routine can help in eliminating some of its symptoms.
To find out what might be causing the problem take a look at these:
Do you have scoliosis or some form of disc disease? In many cases scoliosis can be corrected through proper therapy using, you guessed it, flexibility and core exercises.
How is your posture? Nearly all of us are born with good posture and proper execution of movements. Over time, we mess them up. As adults we don’t squat to pick things up, we bend over. Big difference. Compare your posture and form to that of a toddler’s. My 3 1/2 year-old son executes the squat perfectly. Proof.
What kind of shoes do you wear? Your workout shoes need replaced more often that you think.
- Were you ever in an accident that injured your back or neck?
- Mattress need turned, replaced?
- Are you under a lot of stress?
- Do you sit for prolonged periods of time?
- What type of chair do you use?
- How is your body positioned at your desk?
- Now, who can help you answer these questions?
A podiatrist. A podiatrist will help you answer all of those questions. He will perform a gait analysis, check how you walk, inspect your posture, and make recommendations for everything from therapy to shoes to an exercise program. A lot of back problems originate from the ground up.
The burning question: How does strengthening my abs help my back?
Any movements where you are pushing something, a door, shopping cart, a spouse, or pulling something, a door, a stubborn dog, or pulling yourself up involve contraction of core muscles. During a pushing type of movement your rectus abdominus (6 pack) and internal obliques must contract in order to stabilize your torso mainly from hyperextending or, leaning back. The same is true when you are doing any pulling type of movement. Your low back extensors and your obliques must contract to stabilize you from bending forward; another way the back is overstressed.
When your core is strong, stabilizing your back during push/pull movements is usually not an issue. When it is not strong the result is hyperextension in the back, and that causes excessive pressure on your spine. This pressure is further compounded when you have excess abdominal weight. A person with excess abdominal weight, tends toward hyperextending the back anyway simply to maintain “normal” posture. The more abdominal weight one has the harder their back muscles must work to keep them straight. This is why we see so many overweight people, mainly men, walking around looking like chemistry teachers, big belly out, arms back, wasting so much energy trying to offset the weight imbalance.
Solution: Change eating habits, get some good walking shoes, start walking, use my check list to see what’s causing your back pain, and start a core strengthening program. You have a very good chance of eliminating some of the symptoms and looking better as well. Easier said than done, I know. But as Fernando Lamas said, “it’s better to look good, than feel good.” Maybe you can do both.