Don't Hurt Your Back... Do As I Say, Not As I Do!

According to the World Health Organization, during their lifetime, 70 percent of adults living in industrialized countries suffer from lower back pain, which is the leading cause of work absence around the world.

While some degree of lower back pain comes naturally with age due to the deterioration of the intervertebral disks, our modern sedentary lifestyle is believed to be a major contributor to the prevalence of lower back pain among healthy adults.

Exercise has been demonstrated to significantly help cure and prevent lower back pain, but it’s important to exercise correctly otherwise you might not only waste your time in the gym, but also make your back pain worse. Below are three essential tips to follow to stop your workout from killing your back.

1. Keep Your Back Straight Under Load

“Keep your back straight and lift with your knees!” — this old advice is applicable whenever you’re tasked with lifting something heavy off the floor or when you depend on your back and core muscles for stability. By always maintaining a straight back, you protect your spinal disks from damage, which could otherwise manifest as a slipped disk, collapsed disk, ruptured disk, and other spinal disk problems.

2. Embrace Foundational Core Exercises 

Foundational exercises—squat and deadlift—are not just for strongmen interested in building huge strength to throw massive stones around or beefcakes who dream of looking like a mountain of muscle and veins. These exercises mimic the essential movement patterns the human body has been designed to perform, strengthening all important back muscles at the same time. If you’re back is killing you and your time is limited, squats and deadlifts should be your top priority.

3. Avoid Unhealthy Exercises

There are some exercises that are not good for low back pain because they put too much stress on the disks and ligaments in your spine. Such exercises include toe touches, traditional sit-ups, leg lifts, the superman, and virtually all explosive rotational exercises. Instead, try their safe alternatives, including partial crunches, bridges, and even some Pilates moves, which combine stretching, strengthening, and core work.