It seems every 3-4 months I am straining my lower back, which puts me out of commission for several days at a time. It's frustrating along with the hurt. I am sure that some of it comes from poor form (being lazy maybe). Also, I assume that it may be due to lack of core strength. Currently I do not do any specific core training. I'm not looking to get a 6-pack (I do have a bit of a keg going to be honest), but to legitimately strengthen my core to prevent injury like this.
As a side note, I play & coach Rugby. If you're at all familiar with the sport I'm a prop-forward (mainly tighthead). I know strengthening my core will also help me in this aspect.
So, to recap:
1. How do I avoid continued Lower Back injury?
2. Will core strengthening help?
3. If yes to #2, what sort of training should I add to my routine (something daily?)?
Your problem is THAT YOUR A PROP FORWARD. props are notorious for having tight hamstrings/ calves. I'm guessing that most people can't imagine and picture what goes on in the deep dark spaces of the scrum, rucks and mauls. There is more stress going on your back in a scrum/ collapsed scrum than you will ever put on your spine in the gym, even lifting with bad form. Props are being shafted from front and behind and have tremendous opposing forces on the spine so there is an excessive amount of compression on the entire spinal column. As you know the front row of a scrum absorbs incalculable amounts of stress at set piece time. With an almost immovable force at one end and locks shoving you into the immovable force with all their might.
Do you have access to a inversion unit, so that you can DE COMPRESS your spine. Don't be surprised if something as simple as spinal decompression could alleviate your problem. I've Been around rugby for better than 40 years and have seen 000's of front rowers not have enough flexibility... it's the nature of the amateur guys. The Big Grunts don't like to stretch and avoid it like the plague. How is your sprint, can you?... do you suffer tight hamstrings, how much scrumming practice do you guys put in?... how serious a competitor are you, do you train outside your team practice sessions. Do you rehab after each game or are you straight in to the beers?...
First and foremost look into the flexibility of your pelvic region. Can you touch your toes, stand tall and arch backward, how does that feel on your abdominal's and hip flexors?... Props are also notorious for having a muscular imbalance of the anterior/ posterior hip due to the demands of your position. So make sure you are stretching your abs and hip flexors 2x daily also.
As suggested a foam roller would serve you well. What is your season, when does the new season start?... do you usually follow an off season strengthening plan?... do you have a strength and conditioning guy at your club?...
Go and check out these boys... I am sure you know of the New Zealand All Blacks... these guys are currently props in the AB's test squad and you may of heard of them already... The FRANKS brothers... just google Ben or Owen Franks. These guys are both over 6' tall and weighing in at around 260 a piece. They have a video on youtube there about buying a cross fit franchise so you will see them actually working out as well... I think that you could gleen some little insights in to the daily life of a professional international prop forward and pick up some useful tips on body maintenance and strengthening.
Talk to me more mate I am happy to help out a rugby brother the best I can, even if your a front row plop. Except for a few years as a kid playing 6 and 7 I was always a 12, 13, 15 but with the mentality of a 1 or 3 at that time I just didn't have the bulk to match my aggression but never let that stop me trying to trample guys into the ground.
The super 15 semis start this weekend in the southern hemisphere... down to the top six so if you can hook up to that you will see some of the elite players in the international game going at it... I am in Minneapolis and it starts at 2.30 am tomorrow morning with 2 games sat and one sunday am.
Then don't miss the quadrangle tourney starting mid Aug... nz,sa,aust and argentina this is a NOT to be missed event for 14 weeks or so of REAL RUGBY...
Hope some of this helps, rugby brothers gotta stick together so don't hesitate to ask more questions if needed. rugga rugga rugga beer beer beer...