Lower Back Health Series Part 1

As mentioned in a previous facebook post I recently sustained a lumbar spine disc bulge a month ago and therefore will be documenting my owning training and rehab plus tips so that you prevent and rehab similar injuries. If you take your athletic training seriously then preventing, rehabilitating and working around any injuries is vital in maintaining forward momentum. Its not always the most genetically gifted athletes that make it to top, but usually the ones that can work the hardest the most consistently. Serious injures will reduce your ability to train to the best of your ability, so take the time to keep your body as healthy as possible.

The first part to keeping your back healthy is having good breathing pattern. See our previous article on this topic: Breathing Article

The next two important parts to address are your movement patterns and spinal stability. The focus of this article will be spinal stability and movement patterns in the next article. When you sustain a lower back injury such as a disc bulge it is common for deep spinal stabilising muscles like the multifidus to switch off – this occurs to reduce compression on the injured area. This means if you are likely to sustain more damage if you rush back into heavy loading straight away as you do not have the protection of your deep spinal stabilising muscles. Take the time to get your spinal stability working again, and do not rush back into heavy weights – start LIGHTER and slowly get heavier as you gain confidence again and your spinal stability improves.

You can use rolling as one of the starting points for assessing/training spinal stability, and if you haven’t had a lower back injury it is even good to include in your warm up periodically. You may be wondering what the hell rolling on the floor has to do with keeping your back healthy. It trains the balance between your deep and outer core muscles. If you lack deep spinal control you will be dominant through your outer core and this will prevent your from being able to have finer control of your spine as it will be locked down. This will negatively effect movements that require rotational control like throwing and running. Lacking deep spinal control also means less protrection for your spine which can increase injury risk under heavy loads such as when squatting and deadlifting.

Here is a video videos on how to perform basic rolling patterns correctly:

Below is a video of Shed client Mike who has previously sustained a disc bulge in his lumbar spine. It shows the difference between his left and right upper body rolling. Rolling to his left is good, and poor to his right. Notice how when initially rolling to his right (poor side) his left hip and shoulder roll over together as opposed to the left shoulder coming over first and then the hip lagging behind. This is because he lacks deep spine stabilisation and his brain is overusing his outer muscles to stabilise the spine and therefore the whole trunk moves as one unit.

Below is a video of his rolling to his right after some training. Improved but still some work to do.

So there we have some tips for assessing and training basic spinal stabilisation. The following parts include improving your movement patterns and exercise techniques to minimise lower back loading and more spinal stabilisation exercises. To be notified when the next part of the back health series is released sign up for the Strength Shed newsletter below:
If you have any feedback or questions comment below or email [email protected]

Nick Mudaliar
Strength Shed Head Coach

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