A common complaint I come across is people experiencing lower back pain mainly when they exercise. For example, patients state that the experience lower back pain when lifting a dumbbell off the weights rack or they get sore after running on the treadmill but when they do lower impact activities like walking or sitting they don’t have any pain. This can be particularly frustrating as they don’t want to stop exercising due to back pain.
In most cases, people who experience lower back pain with weight training or high-intensity cardio tend to have weakness in their intrinsic core. The intrinsic core is the deep set of core muscles including the TVA, internal obliques, pelvic floor, diaphragm and lumbar stabilisers. Having good control of all of these stabilising muscles is actually very difficult and many very fit, strong and active people can still have trouble activating one or many of the intrinsic core muscles. I have had patients who have very strong superficial core muscles but get a lot of lower back pain at the gym due to the lack of deeper core control.
How To Prevent Lower Back Pain
So what can you do to strengthen up your deeper core and prevent lower back pain when exercising? The first thing to do is stop over exercising the superficial layer of the core. This means no more sit-ups or crunches. These types of exercises will make the superficial core very strong and dominant and leave the intrinsic core weak and lazy.
Exercises that promote deep core strength include planks, pilates and side planks. I also recommend checking out Stuart McGills Big 3 exercises for lower back pain treatment. This includes a combination of 3 exercises that strengthen the deep core.
Advice From Dr Miki Humphrey
It can be a bit tricky learning to engage your core correctly. If you have issues, checking in with a personal trainer or going to a pilates class would be beneficial. If you would like a more thorough assessment and plan for overcoming lower back pain feel free to get in touch with Dr Miki at her Brisbane CBD Chiropractic clinic.