T Nation

Lower Back Problem

I was wondering if anyone here on this great forum can give me some advice on how to strengthen my lower back. I have had problems for a few years now with minor pulls in my lower back. I have tried deadlifting with really light weights and gradually increasing the weight over time but there always comes to a point where I start getting problems with the lower back. Any training tips on how to improve this problem will be greatly received.

Thanks

Hey katch22,

Alot of times people with lower back problems tend to have weak abs. If your stomach is weak it can become distended and pulls on your lower back muscles. Kind of like a tent when one side is tighter it makes the other side bow.

Really try to strengthen those abs with an ab specialization program and see if that works.

Then slowly start to integrate some lower back exercises like good mornings, hyperextensions etc.

Hope that helps a little.
“Sancho”

katch22,

I almost forgot you may also (I know I’ll get flamed for this) consider doing some yoga. I was very skeptical at first but it has helped me immensely.

Find a good place and go to a class you’ll feel relaxed and your lower back muscles won’t feel so tight.
“Sancho”

what helped me. slow progression with both deadlifts, focusing on pushing through heels, and deep ass to ankles squats. I mean slow. slower than you think is silly. Yoga suggestion was not bad, really. I don’t go to class, just found some yoga sites and did a bunch of the moves. Strengthen and lengthen hip flexors. single leg split squats and step ups. do you feel as if more weight is being borne by either foot? if so, the one thing that I did was practice keeping weight evenly distributed. Ab strength is important. I love doing the plank. There is so much. One thing that is damn near useless is over stretching the lower back. Rarely is back pain as a result of lumbar musculature tightness.

I recently read McGill’s back performance book (which I manage to bring up in every other thread I post in). He said his research suggests that the keys to a pain and injury-free back are endurance of the core muscles and motor control, but strengthening the back simply for the sake of strengthening the back is not directly helpful.

His core group of exercises were the prone, supine, and side bridges, crunches for the abs, and the bird-dog exercise to teach spine stabilization. Also prime, prime emphasis on learning to lift with proper technique and to brace the spine in a neutral position while lifting.

An anecdotal comment on that- I’ve really never had problems with back pain or injury. I’ve tweaked it a few times but never anything that hurt for more than a few days… As far as strength goes, I deadlift and squat regularly, do GMs, RDLs, pull-throughs, etc, etc for accessory work, so I always felt my back was plenty STRONG. Well, when I started doing prone and side bridges, I could barely hold them at all- I mean I fell over after maybe 8 seconds of my first side-bridge… So you may be shocked once you try some specific exercises for core stabilization and see what you’ve been missing despite all the big lifts in the gym.

You might also look at Eric C. and Mike R.'s Neanderthal No More program, in case you have whole-body postural problems that are leading to the back strains. And their article on self myofascial release might help get rid of the tightness. I’ve been doing both for a while now and I’m liking it.

Nick

To get the best advice I would suggest you see a manual physical therapist. They will do a thorough evaluation and determine what problems you are having. Part of the evaluation will be a postural assessment, joint mobility, strength, etc. They should also be able to give you specific exercises for core stabilization. There are three primary muscles that provide core stabilization; transverse ab, multifidus, and pelvic floor. The reason I suggest you see someone in person is so that the most beneficial information will be given. It is impossible to diagnose without actually seeing someone and being able to put your hands on them. Therefore, I strongly recommend that you see someone as there suggestions will be tailored to fit your needs. As far as transverse ab goes, do a search for Don Alessi’s lost art of ab training. (As an aside, he references a manual physical therapist from Australia) Hope that helps.

Thanks guys for the advice, I will post again in a few weeks to let you know how I am getting on.

Katch22