Updated: Sep 22
Back pain, especially low back is something I hear of often and it's something I even deal with so I figured it would be a solid topic and I can share some knowledge on how I manage I, so lets begin!
Low back pain is the second most common ailment in the United States behind headaches. It's also second most common reason for work related absence and visits to a physician. Back pain can result from sudden injuries, but often it's the long-term result of weak and inflexible muscles, poor posture, or poor body mechanics during lifting, carrying, and sitting activities.
Poor core stiffness is also a common cause of back pain in athletes. The core muscles are the trunk muscles extending from the hips to the upper back, including those in the abdomen, pelvic floor, sides of the trunk, back, buttocks, hip, and pelvis. These muscles are attached to the ribs, hips, spinal column, and other bones in the trunk of the body and core muscles stabilize the spine and help transfer force between the upper body and lower body. Strong core muscles are super important as they make movements more forceful and help minimize back pain and coming from a motocross perspective some of the best riders in the world has a strong core which is critical for proper riding technique.
Below are some underlying causes of back pain:
Poor muscle endurance and strength in core muscles.
Excess body weight.
Poor posture or body position when standing, sitting, or sleeping.
Poor body mechanics when performing actions such as lifting and carrying or sports movements.
Strained muscles, tendons, or ligaments. Over time, such strains can injure vertebrae, intervertebral disks, and surrounding muscles and ligaments
Another more subtle cause of back pain relates to physical stress, which can cause disks to break down and lose some of their ability to absorb shock. A possible damaged disk may bulge out between the vertebrae and put pressure on a nerve root. Painful pressure on nerves also can cause damage to a disk—narrowing the space between two vertebrae. With age, fluid loss from the disks makes them more likely to bulge and put added pressure on nerve roots. Symptoms may include numbness in the back, hip, leg, or foot; radiating pain; loss of muscle function; depressed reflexes; and muscle spasm. If the pressure is severe enough, loss of function can become permanent.
Walking with good form can help with back pain. The walking movement helps lubricate the spinal joints and increases muscle fitness in the trunk and legs. Core-stiffening exercises (described below) also can help with low back pain because these exercises stabilize the spine and build core muscle endurance.
A few other lifestyle recommendations help prevent back pain....
A proper warm up before exercising.
Use lumbar support when driving, particularly for long distances, to prevent muscle fatigue and pain. (or in a gaming chair like me, lol)
Avoid sitting, standing, or working in the same position for too long. Stand up every hour or half-hour and move around.
Maintain a healthy weight. Excess fat contributes to poor posture, which can place harmful stresses on the spine.
Stop smoking and reduce stress.
For me following a lot of these lifestyle changes has helped a lot, along with following proper core exercises and stretching techniques shown bellow....
(Only perform these stretches after a hot shower, proper warm up, or exercising)
(note) there are quite a few more stretches and exercises you can perform, but here are a few that I have seen great progress with.
perform for 30 sec, then 30 sec break on all stretches
: Knee to chest Stretch
Grasp the back of your thigh and bring your knee to your chest. Pull on your thigh until you feel a stretch in your low back.
Supine Trunk Twist
This excellent exercise develops spine and hip flexibility. It also is helpful for people with existing chronic back pain.
Directions: Lie on one side with the top knee bent, lower leg straight, lower arm extended out in front on the floor, and upper arm at the side. Push down with the upper knee while twisting the trunk backward. Try to place the shoulders and upper body flat on the floor, turning the head as well. Return to the starting position and then repeat on the other side.
Modified Hurdler Stretch
Avoid doing hurdler stretches where you sit with one leg stretched out to the side as you stretch the other extended leg. Turning out the bent leg can put excessive strain on the knee ligaments.
Directions: Sit with your right leg straight and your left leg tucked close to your body. Reach toward your right foot as far as possible. Repeat for the other leg.
“Good-Morning” Stretch with Toe Touches
Directions: Stand with feet shoulder width apart and reach up over your head with arms extended fully. Stretch by trying to extend your arms as much as possible: first one arm, then the other, and then both arms. Then, flex your knees slightly and bend over at the waist and reach toward your toes. Reach down until you feel the stretch in your hamstring muscles.
(this is also for me personally, a great way to see if my lower back and hamstrings are tight or not, usually if my back is tight or hurting I'm unable to touch my toes
Here are a few core exercises...
PLANKS - ( focus on nice flat back - & piercing your belly button into your spine)
HIP RAISE. (also works your glutes)
Lie on your back on the floor with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor.
Place your arms out to your sides
SIDE BRIDGES - ( I couldn't find a picture but here are youtube links below...)
Lie on your side and support your body between your forearm and knees (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pfIe7Ekc2ho). As you increase fitness, first move your non-support arm across your body as you hold the side-bridge (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BxuShmEkg9g); later, support your weight between your forearm and feet.
A few things to mention about curl ups.... https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A7HH8DivGB0
Curl ups are a variation of the sit-up abdominal exercise. Full sit-ups are not necessary to develop fully trained abdominals. The abdominal muscles receive a tremendous workout by moving through an extremely small range of motion. Curl ups are just as effective as sit-ups are, and curl ups place less stress on the back.
Description: Lie on your back on the floor with one leg straight and the other foot flat on the floor. With your arms placed under the lumbar region of the spine, curl the trunk using the rectus abdominis muscle, while minimizing movement of the head and shoulders. The back should remain stationary.
Like I said these are just a few exercises and stretches that are in the repertoire but hopefully it is helpful and always let me know if you have any questions!