Three Easy Tips to Protect Your Spine And Exercise Without Back Pain

Is back trouble getting in the way of your exercise routine? Maybe you're worried that these nagging issues may force you to slow down?

When it comes to back issues, exercise should be part of the solution - not part of the problem. Today we cover three tips to use in the gym to protect your spine and avoid common causes of back pain from exercising.

1. Create Stiffness Through Your Breath

Intra-abdominal pressure (IAP) is defined as the pressure within the abdominal cavity. Creating IAP through our breath protects our low back by creating a stiffness that takes pressure off our spine and intervertebral discs.

Try this out. Just relaxing where you are, press all around your stomach. Take note of the tone. Now, take a deep belly (diaphragmatic) breath in and hold in. Now press on the sides of your abdomen. Notice a difference? The stiffness we create with our breath is something we train and use to protect our spine.

Tip #1: Before lifting a heavy weight - take a deep breath to create stiffness around the spine.

2. Unlock At Your Hips

If you’re doing any sort of fitness routine you need to have an understanding of the hip hinge - not only how to perform - but what it should feel like. It’s THAT important. The hip hinge helps us keep our loads in our weight bearing joints (the hips) and teaches our body how to use our hamstrings and glutes (our prime movers) to lift weight and protect the low back.

Tip #2: Unlock at your hips. Whenever you bend forward make sure that you unlock at your hips and not at your knees and low back.

3. Don’t Sacrifice Squat Depth For Safe Positioning

The most common cue when performing the squat is to get your thighs to parallel. While a good goal - not everyone has adequate mobility to get there. A common compensation is the ‘butt wink’ which is the rounding of our pelvis to allow us to sink a bit lower. The problem? this rounded position puts our spine in a dangerous position (especially if we start adding weight!)

Tip #3: Only squat to the point before your hips start to round. Don’t sacrifice depth for good form!

A good majority of our clients actively participate in exercise/fitness routines. We recently helped a patient suffering with ‘on again, off again’ back pain years. The pain would seemingly come out of nowhere and while not debilitating - would definitely distract and take the enjoyment out of their favorite activities. After a month of care that combined full body chiropractic adjustments, manual therapy with a custom exercise plan to improve their movement and strength they are back in the gym with no pain.

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