Back pain powerlifting blog

Lower back pain is something that generally hits us all, whether it be soreness, aching or sharp pain.

Generally people assume that they have a weak lower back. However that’s not always the case. It’s likely the opposite. The body will use the muscle groups that it knows work well. A lot of people have fatigue through their back because it does everything for them. Likely through their day to day activities, then training in the gym sets it over the top. 

Trunk stability, trunk strength and trunk motor control exercises are the main components an athlete should focus on when looking to reduce lower back pain throughout their lives. Most of the exercises that are used to improve the strength in these aspects of the trunk are known as ‘core or ‘ab’ exercises. As the abdominals are predominantly used when training the body and trunk specifically in the components of strength, stability and motor patterns. 

In a study from The US National Library of Medicine, a Systematic Review was conducted to determine the effectiveness of various core strength training exercises for people with lower back pain. The results showed that after, individuals with Chronic lower back pain experienced a decrease in lower back pain after using different training methods to strengthen their core. 

Motor control plays a critical role in stabilising the spinal system20). Maintaining lumbar spinal stability involves three interactive systems: the passive support system, which relies on the ligaments and fascias of skeletal muscles; the active contraction system, in which lumbar spinal movement and stability are maintained by contracting the core muscles; and the central nervous system, which plays a leading role in motor control16). The central nervous system can respond to sensations produced in the active and passive systems by using the central nerves to control motor coordination 2021). The central nervous system governs physical actions, and prevents interference in order to maintain spinal stability and lumbar spinal movement22).

So basically, doing ‘core’ exercises not only strengthens the muscles used when doing these exercises, it also becomes a lot more stable, and the joints and ligaments associated with these muscles also strengthen and become more stable. The Central Nervous System also learns efficient motor patterns and coordination with spinal stability and the way it moves when contracting (this is inside and outside the gym). Even when you’re not thinking about ‘form’, the way you train your core when doing these strengthening exercises carries over when you move around and live your day to day life. A lot of you may think you’re moving correctly, but it’s not easy to see or feel how the deep trunk stabilisers and core muscles are working/moving. So if you’re experiencing lower back pain and haven’t tried addressing these potential issues, then what’s the worst that can happen? You build a stronger core? End up lifting more weight? Eliminate weaknesses? 

Do your core work. It’s a vital component to powerlifting as it is used in every lift you do on the platform.

September 13, 2019 — Daniel Felstein

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