Preventing Low Back Pain
The management and prevention of low back pain begins with the understanding of a neutral spine position. In this position the three natural curves of the spine are present. The neck, or the cervical spine, curves slightly inward. The mid back, or the thoracic spine, is curved outward. The low back, or the lumbar spine, curves inward again.
A neutral alignment when exercising is important to cushion the spine from too much stress and strain that will lead to low back pain. Learning how to maintain a neutral spine position also helps you move safely during activities like sitting, walking, and especially exercise.
The natural curves of the spine are a direct result of the proper use of the muscles, ligaments, and tendons that attach to the vertebrae of the spine. Without these supporting structures, the spine would collapse.
Our muscles support the spine much like guy ropes that support and strengthen a tent, when the guy ropes of the tent and pulled tight and evenly the tent will stand tall and strong.
This guide wire system is made up mainly of the abdominal and entire back musculature. The abdominal muscles provide support by attaching to the ribs, pelvis, and indirectly to the lumbar spine. The muscles of the back are arranged in layers, with each layer playing an important role in balancing the spine.
A balance of strength and flexibility of the entire body is the key to maintaining the neutral spine position and preventing low back pain.
A neutral spine is also the basis for optimal muscle function, all core strength, stability and low back pack pain can be linked to how well a neutral spine is maintained.
The key to maintaining a neutral spine throughout the day and during exercise is building endurance in the muscles of the core. This is where core muscles differ from the muscles of the limbs. When training muscles of the limbs we are able fatigue them completely but because the muscles of the core have to work in every exercise we do it is key to not fatigue them in the 1st exercise leaving the spine vulnerable to injury later in the session or later sessions.
To build endurance in the core and prevent low back pain the secret is to activate the core muscles and not fatigue them. This could mean moving away from the traditional 3 sets of let’s say 12 reps and using a descending approach of set 1 or 12, set 2 of 10 and sets 3 of 8 for example.