On any given day 1 in 7 Australian’s will suffer from back pain, making it the largest contributor to the burden of disease. It is the most common presentation to a GP and it affects up to 90% of the population at one point or another.
If you are suffering from back pain it is worth noting that only a small percentage are indicative of serious pathology. Most of the time (90-95%) it is pain related to the muscles or joints in the lower back and is of a musculoskeletal origin.
If you’re in the 90-95% that have pain related to biomechanical factors, it’s important to look at what weaknesses may be present which are causing an excessive load through the back, and pain as a result.
A key chain of muscles to assess personally or with a professional are the erector spinae, the glute complex, the hamstrings and the calves. In function these muscles all contribute to hip extension. If there is a weakness through any of these muscles the load will be taken up elsewhere (usually by the back).
In addition, the glutes play a very important role in stabilizing the pelvis in function. In single leg stance, the glutes prevent the pelvis from dropping excessively. If there is a weakness in the glutes and the pelvis does drop, the lower back must work hard to provide the stability that the glutes lack. Again, over time pain can develop as a result of this weakness.
So, 3 great exercises to do to strengthen this chain are:
– Hip thrusts
– Goblet squats
– Romanian deadlifts
All 3 of the exercises above have been proven to get great activation of the glutes which will help to develop better strength in the pelvis and offload the back. In addition the hip thrusts and deadlifts are great for the hamstrings and the whole chain as a unit. These exercises are great but they’re not for everyone, so if you try them and you feel the back is becoming loaded further it’ll be best to try some other exercises that target the same areas.
Also, if you are unable to perform one maximal set of 30 single leg calf raises on each side, you’ll need to improve your strength in that area as well (don’t forget the little guys).
If you need a professional opinion on your lower back or require some help with the exercises listed above, come in to the clinic and we can give you a plan to get you to your goals as quickly as possible!