According to research conducted by Dr. Stuart McGill, “People with back pain actually have stronger backs than people without back pain, so weakness is not the culprit.” In our experience in both treating and training individuals suffering from low back pain, there are three common factors that seems to play a central role:
1) Breathing Pattern – of all the factors that play a role in back pain, breathing is the one that gets dismissed the easiest or patient’s are quick to write-off as irrelevant. Truth of the matter is breathing plays a HUGE role. The diaphragm is our primary muscle for respiration AND serves as a deep stabilizer to the lumbar spine. If breathing is not normalized, no other movement in the human body can be. Breathing is that critical. Learning to properly breathing and integrate proper breathing into movement must be learned or else the rest of the stabilizing system of the spine will remain dysfunctional, continuing to contribute to pain.
2) Core Stability & Endurance – in order to build a resilient spine, the core must be stable and conditioned well enough to handle the demands of either daily living, exercise, or sport. The core does require higher levels of muscular endurance which must first be established before more specific qualities of strength or power can be trained. While training for endurance or strength, it’s critical that one is aware of their core as it relates to static and dynamic postures in order to maintain stability that spares the joints and discs of the low back.
3) Hip Mobility – stiffness or tightness in the hips will ultimately result in more motion and stress being placed on the low back. The hips are designed for movement and when they get tight this will cause one to bend or twist too often in the low back region. Repetitive motions such as bending and twisting are commonly associated with low back pain. Simply put, the lower back is not designed for repetitive, excessive motion. Improving hip mobility will begin with proper breathing and the learned skill of proper core stability in posture and movement (do you see the theme here?) Then from there, specialized attention must be given to the musculature of the hips and core to correct imbalances and improve overall function.
To sum up – learn to breathe properly, stabilize the core, develop mobile/athletic hips.
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