If staying physically fit is truly one of your goals, you absolutely need to back it up with back care exercises. Specifically, you need to do a healthy back core training program.
I know firsthand how debilitating back problems can be. I have had terrible back pain issues for years now, most likely due to muscle imbalances from my gymnastic, dance and cheerleading days which was surely compounded by the fact I had a congenital orthopedic abnormality called “femoral retroversion.” My orthopedic issues required a major surgery for a femoral derotational osteotomy where my femur (leg bone) was broke in half and the shaft was rotated to put my femoral head in the “normal” position. Anyway, long story short, my orthopedic issues and years of high impact athletics has caused major back issues for a very long time. I know I’m not the only one with back pain though—back pain is actually the second biggest reason people miss work.
Even though I strength train regularly for the longest time I had not been doing a specific core training program for my stabilizing muscles. As a result I had been dealing with painful back and leg pain flare-ups for way too long. I recently sought the advice of expert trainer Gary Lavin, who is a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist.Along with his fiancé, fitness specialist Marissa Lysaght, Gary is the owner of Fitness ReDefined in Jupiter, Florida. The video clip will show you the beginner core workout Gary has designed for me.
Whether you want to prevent back pain, ease back pain or just look better with a flatter stomach, a core training workout with focus on back health exercises will benefit you. I can’t think of one person who wouldn’t benefit from a back care program!
In addition to the workout video showing a great circuit training back care workout, Gary has kindly contributed the following information to help you better understand what might be causing your back pain and how to fix it.
Staying Physically Fit
“The Healthy Back Workout”
By Gary Lavin, CSCS
In our “sit at your desk”, “sit on the couch” world we live in today, back pain seems to be one of the most common reasons clients seek out our services. There are a myriad of causes but the main ones we see are weakness, tightness, disc injury, or other orthopedic issues (i.e. scoliosis, disc degeneration, etc)
Most Common Methods of Treatment and their Limitations
- Therapy can be helpful but is all too often limited by old school thought and insurance plan guidelines.
- Don’t go straight to the knife! This should be a last resort option, since recovery and repair of the cause of pain is not guaranteed.
- Strengthening the “core” muscles is certainly helpful, but traditional Pilates exercises are often performed lying down or in isolated positions on a machine. In life, we move freely and generally in the standing position, so why not train that way?
- Stretching can certainly feel good, but rarely is the sole answer to back problems. Some Yoga strengthening exercises are very beneficial for building core strength, but Yoga, in general, does not pay enough attention to the weak backside muscles, which are the big-time back pain problem solvers!
Non-traditional Options for Back Pain and their Benefits
Functional Resistance Training
- This method trains movements rather than one muscle at a time.
- The approach examines the entire kinetic chain and not just the site of injury.
- The emphasis is placed on using pain-free ranges of motion.
- It also strongly promotes monitoring progress as an indicator of future treatment rather than a “one-size-fits-all” method of exercises programs and repetition ranges.
- This is a very useful tool if you can find the right therapist. Think “Ouch!” not “Ahhhhhhh.” You’ll have plenty of time for “Ahhhh” moments when the problem is fixed!
- Although, there is not a lot of research available to support this claim, most health professionals agree that losing those extra pounds can go a long way toward improving your posture and comfort.
- Of course, focusing on proper nutrition can help diminish inflammation. Hint: The “Whole Foods Diet”!!
The Fitness Redefined Approach
Start simple and then progress.
- Try functional strength training before taking on a medical mode of treatment.
- This progression approach also applies to movements. Most of us learned to crawl before we could walk, right? Don’t jump into something way too difficult and end up with further injury and frustration.
Training the “Core”
- It’s not just about Abs of Steel! The Fitness Redefined “Core” includes all the muscles from knees to the ribs, front and back.
- Train the way you live. We like to train mostly in the standing position or with your foot attached to the earth.
- Focus on large movements, stabilization and balance. (See the video clip for more on this.)
Always let pain be the guide.
- If it hurts, do not do it. Try to distinguish between the pain of injury and the discomfort of training.
Track your progress.
- Try this program for a few weeks and then ask yourself, “Is the problem getting better or worse?”
- If after 3-6 weeks the answer is ‘no’, seek out some help from a qualified professional.
Gary Lavin’s “Healthy Back Workout”
Level 1, Basic
- Resistance band
- Wall, chair, table or workout step (for beginner/intermediate push ups)
The Exercises- (Perform exercises in a circuit and repeat circuit 3 times)
- Reaching Lunge (20 repetitions, 10 per leg)
- Push-ups (10 repetitions)
- Band Rows (15 repetitions)
- 10-2 Band Rotations (10 repetitions per side)
- Single Leg Front Reach (10 repetitions per side)
Special thanks to Gary Lavin and Marissa Lysaght, from Fitness Redefined (in Jupiter, Florida) for the fabulous workout and valuable information. If you would like to contact Gary or Marissa and learn more about the Fitness Redefined approach visit www.FitnessRedefined.com or call 561-904-6262.