A woman having lower back pain

We’ve all had to deal with lower back pain at some point. It can occur for many reasons, last for a long time, and vary in intensity.

Regardless of your experience with lower back pain, you’ve probably heard the intuitive advice, “Take some time off to heal your lower back.”

The tip sounds good and makes sense. But what if there was another, more counterintuitive way to treat back pain and prevent it from occurring in the future?

Let’s discuss.

What Causes Lower Back Pain In The First Place?
Lower back pain can occur for several reasons. Muscle strains, tendon stress, and spinal damage are three of the more common causes of back pain today.

No two cases are the same, so it never hurts to seek help from a professional if you suspect that you’re dealing with a lower back injury. As a rule of thumb, if the pain or discomfort doesn’t go away within a couple of weeks, consider talking to a professional.

Lower back pain can also occur from overtraining muscles, which can cause spasms and affect nerves in the back, leading to pain.

What’s The Best Way to Deal With Lower Back Aches?
Taking some time off is never the wrong way to approach aches in the lower back, especially if you’re dealing with a sharp pain that radiates up your back or down your legs. If that’s the case, you might also consider talking to a specialist.

But aside from more severe cases, most people can continue to train, even if that means reducing the intensity for a while. Self-myofascial release and stretching can also help in some situations.

For example, a relatively common cause of low back pain is tightness or weakness in the glute medius, a muscle situated beneath the large and powerful gluteus maximus. This muscle plays an essential role in hip stability, especially while training. If the glute medius doesn’t work properly, we end up shifting more weight to one leg. Over time, that imbalance strains our back muscles, which have to pick up the slack for the glute medius.

In that example, strengthening the glute medius with leg abduction exercises like lateral leg raises can fix the issue. Self-myofascial release of the glute medius can also help relieve tightness in the muscle, allowing it to work better.

How to Prevent Back Pain From Occurring In The Future?
One sure way to prevent back pain from occurring is to train with proper form. Filming some of your training sets or working with a coach can help you spot mistakes and fix them before they result in aches or injuries.

But aside from good technique, training our core musculature can provide us with the stability we need to train hard and lift heavy weights. Our core includes:

  • Rectus and transverse abdominis
  • Internal and external obliques
  • Erector spinae
  • Diaphragm
  • Pelvic floor muscles

Our glutes are also part of the core, and we should train them, too. The gluteus maximus receives plenty of work from deep squats, hip thrusts, lunges, and deadlifts. But the glute medius and minimus require specific attention through abduction exercises to remain strong, keep the pelvis stable, and reduce the risk of lower back pain in the future.

November 12, 2021 — Daniel Felstein

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