T Nation

APT, Can't Touch Toes, Back Pain


#1

I have a bit of a problem i’m looking for help on.

I’m 25, when i was 18 i was deadlifting with an arched back, something popped and ever since i’ve had chronic lower back pain.

An MRI showed a slight bulging disc but not serious.

I can’t remember what my mobility was like back then but as of now it’s pretty terrible. I have APT as well and have done daily foam rolling, stretches and exercises to cure it. 2 weeks so far. When i began i couldn’t get my hands past my kneecaps, now i can get half way down my shin, so its working.

Back pain doesn’t seem to be improving much though. I don’t do deadlifts anymore, but i do squat which doesn’t hurt my back. I am very tight in my back with very poor mobility in the morning, throughout the day it loosens up a bit. Doing BB military press is a little uncomfortable too, i can kind of feel a compressing type sensation down my spine. The routine i’ve been doing the past 2 weeks is:

Foam roll:

Quads, hip abductors, lower back, calves, glutes

3 x 45 seconds planks

3 x 30 seconds stomach vacuum

Lower back stretching, glute bridges 3x30 seconds, warrior stretch 1 minute per leg

On lower day at the gym i do ham curls, leg raises, knee raises (hold 3 x 15 seconds, very weak at holding my legs up) and the ab machine all to help with posture and mobility.

I have a few questions.

  1. If i continue the exercises and fix APT, will the back pain go away or at least reduce?

  2. What else can i do to help reduce the pain?

  3. When it comes to fixing apt, what should i do with my calves, quads and hamstrings? They say that if you have APT you should have weak and loose hamstrings, but mine feel incredibly tight when i try and touch my toes. Whats going on here?

Any other tips/advice would be helpful.


#2

don’t do this. Think about it like this: you want your hips to be mobile and your lower back to be stable. Stretching your lower back makes it more mobile and less stable. Does that make sense? There are some situations where low back stretching can be beneficial but I’d stay away from it. Stretch your hip flexors and piriformis.

don’t do this either. Bad juju.

eventually, yes. Be prepared for it to take a long time.[quote=“NoobGains24, post:1, topic:217859”]
What else can i do to help reduce the pain?
[/quote]

It’s really just a case of strengthening your core and glutes, while improving hip mobility. It’s simple, but not easy. You need to be conscious of your posture when you do pretty much everything.

your hamstrings are tight because your pelvis tilting forward is pulling on them, which puts them into a stretched position.

Try this: Touch your toes (or at least try). Do 3 sets of 15 reps (per side) of bird dogs and try again. I’ll bet good money your flexibility increased?


#3

Yogi1’s right. You should also do mobility work with bands. Youtube Kelly Starrett/Mwod for ideas on hip mobility. It sound’s like your hips are wrenching everything around them into a tight position. But you might also have tight hamstrings that are reinforcing that position as well (i.e. they’re protecting your hips from getting the stretch it needs). So see what Starrett has to say about those as well.


#4

All the rolling and stretching and activation are good. Keep them up. Do easy stuff 3 times a day, at home. If knee raises are hard, do LOTS of knee raises. Sitting down (seated Psoas hold) standing(like marching in place) and laying down.

You also need to find “big” moves where you can teach yourself to use your glutes and hamstrings more.

Looping a band thru my lifting belt, then stepping thru the ends of the band is a one of my favorites. The band and belt try to fold you up, so your glutes must drive. As you walk back and forth and side to side, the exercise forces you out of APT. Google “Laura Phelps, band through belt” for a demostration. Do this every time you are in the gym for a few weeks. Then on lower body days as part of warm ups.

Dragging the sled is very effective too. Connect the sled to your belt, then “power walk,” taking deliberate steps, 1 Leg at a time. Again, each step forces you out of ATP, as your glutes drive the hips forward. It also works all the muscles in your legs, without stressing your back. Its awesome.

I like to do multiple short, heavy drags on one lower body day. Then, 1 continous much longer, lighter drag on the other lower body day.