The lower back is one of the most frequently injured parts of the body and it can be quite frustrating to deal with a sore or painful lower back. Over a persons lifetime it is quite common to have at least one lower back injury or disability in some manner or form. With such a frequent pattern of injuries it becomes necessary in today's world of constant sitting and lack of physical exertion to train the the muscles around the lower back and learn how to properly brace the core in order to prevent such injuries or at least lessen the severtity of repeat problems.
Sedentary Lifestyle Causes the Most Problems
The lower back muscles become overworked and tensed with higher amounts of sitting and inactivity throughout the day. Sedentary activity causes the glutes and core musculature to become inactive and weak, while the hip flexors become shorter and tighter as well, since they now have to compensate for weakened pelvic floor and core musculature.
When these muscles are not firing correctly and are chronically tightened this is when your lower back is put at a greater risk of injury since it pulls the pelvis out of a natural alignment and puts excessive stress upon the lower back. Typically when one pair of muscles is not working correctly, another one steps up in line to try and perform the task at hand even if it's not that muscles direct roll.
It's a beautiful thing in the body that we have so many compensation mechanisms in place to keep us operating, however it does leave us more prone to injury when muscles are not firing correctly and are tighter than they're usual length tension relationship.
Three Exercises to Help
Now these exercises shown in the video are designed to help learn how to brace the core correctly, get the muscles of the lower back, glutes, diaphragm, pelvic floor and hip flexors engaged and working properly.
The modified crunch targets the abdominals in a safe pattern forcing you to squeeze vigorously and engage the abdominal muscles fully, without being overly stressful on the next and surrounding tissues. Practicing your belly breathing while performing these exercises will dramatically improve upon their effectiveness and get you more in tune with breathing through diaphragm versus your chest.
The bird dog is a classic anti-rotation drill that utilizes contra-lateral arm and leg movement to work the core musculature, while maintaining a stable lower back. This assists in activating the core while moving and helps center the body by emphasizing usage of the glutes, hamstrings and upper back musculature.
The final exercise is the dead bug, which serves as a staple core exercise to help enforce proper bracing technique, pushing the lower back into the floor from the breathe while performing contra-lateral arm and leg movement. Basically, you're maintaining core integrity while moving.
Performing all three of these exercises is a key facet to helping heal your lower back in a safe and effective way, without adding too much additional spinal loading and can truly be a game changer for helping the body learn to properly brace the core while moving. All this equates into a much more stable core and reduction in the risk of a back injury over time.
If you've found these exercise helpful in your programming please leave a comment below and describe your experience.
Jesse “Captain Smash” Howland is the owner of SMASH’s Strength Lab, which offers targeted personal training to reach a variety of fitness and physique goals. A natural bodybuilder, competitive powerlifter, certified personal trainer, and nutrition coach, Jesse is often the go-to resource for personal training Ottawa. He studied Exercise Science at Oregon State University and even trained at the world famous Gold’s Gym. He’s a former US Army Captain with the 86th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, a former blog writer at Veterans Fitness Career College, and former Chief Executive Officer at U.S. Army Forces Command (FORSCOM). His workouts and personal training are army-inspired to help reach your weightloss, athletic, or physique goals.