T Nation

Spine, Abs, Glutes Control with Lower Back Pain


#1

Hi guys,

Quick background info: Lower back pain for 12 years dont know the exact cause, lately aggrevated by squatting and deadlifting mostly, had some injuries in the lumbar area, took my lifts down to very light weight now trying to fix my form, back gets aggrevated by the slightest technique mistakes. Also have lordosis, lower back is always very tensed.

Now i think my weak glutes and weak abs are at least part of the problem, so working a lot on them and this now has me a little confused, i tried to contract my glutes very hard during all lifts lately since i thought you were supposed to do that.

Because of my Lodosis i have become a little overobsessed with contracting my glutes everywhere.

I think Squeezing my glutes to hard puts my lumbar spine in a slightly rounded postion at least during the squat which aggrevated the pain.

For some reason i, because of my lordosis have put it in my mind that an extended lumbar spine is bad which i am doubting now, so one of my questions is is this true?

When i contract my glutes and my spine gets neutral obviously there will be some movement during the squat and it easily shifts to a little flexed curve which seems dangerous with heavier weight. So should i rather go for a little extended lumbarspine that might look a little too extended because of the lordosis.?

I tried yesterday to not focus on the glutes but put my focus on keeping my abs contracted during the whole squat and therefore my posture being solid and it feels better.

So what do you guys advise.. focus on the glutes contracting?

And another thing i am wondering is how do i approach the deadlift, spinewise?

I know obv the goal is neutral spine, but that is easier said than done for me and i think i dont fully understand what it means exactly regarding the natural curve which in my case is a bigger curve than normal. (basically neutral isnt natural for me which gves the problems)


#2

Sounds like you spent too long focusing on the arched back, chest up cue.

You said yourself, your abs and glutes are weak. You have developed an imbalance, and now you rely on your lower back to brace. Your body has learned to “cover” for the weak parts and overload your back.

You have to engage your glutes, but you also have to use your abs to keep your spine more neutral, just like you did yesterday. Keep focusing on using your abs to stay upright. Throw is some sidebends and leg raises to develop your abs and obliques.

Be aware of your abs, and always try to pull your spine neutral when you lift. I’m sure you over arch on things like overhead presses and rows too. At least I did when I was having the same issues.

I started wearing my belt tons more. I tried to push my abs out against it and brace better on all standing lifts.

It’s easier for me to stay upright by doing front squats instead of squats. You might try them for awhile.

Also, it’s easier to maintain position for deadlifting if you don’t have to bend over all the way. Try some partial deadlifts in the rack or off blocks. Focus on your neutral spine, and really just driving the hips “through” instead of trying to extend your back “up.” You’ll know you’re getting it right when it feels like you are just pulling the bar a very short way.


#3

[quote]FlatsFarmer wrote:
Sounds like you spent too long focusing on the arched back, chest up cue.

You said yourself, your abs and glutes are weak. You have developed an imbalance, and now you rely on your lower back to brace. Your body has learned to “cover” for the weak parts and overload your back.

You have to engage your glutes, but you also have to use your abs to keep your spine more neutral, just like you did yesterday. Keep focusing on using your abs to stay upright. Throw is some sidebends and leg raises to develop your abs and obliques.

Be aware of your abs, and always try to pull your spine neutral when you lift. I’m sure you over arch on things like overhead presses and rows too. At least I did when I was having the same issues.

I started wearing my belt tons more. I tried to push my abs out against it and brace better on all standing lifts.

It’s easier for me to stay upright by doing front squats instead of squats. You might try them for awhile.

Also, it’s easier to maintain position for deadlifting if you don’t have to bend over all the way. Try some partial deadlifts in the rack or off blocks. Focus on your neutral spine, and really just driving the hips “through” instead of trying to extend your back “up.” You’ll know you’re getting it right when it feels like you are just pulling the bar a very short way. [/quote]

Thanks a lot for replying,

Leg raises dont work for me, i think my hipflexors are to tight or i dont know at least i dont feel my abs doing them and when i try to do them solely with abs i cant even get my legs up an inch. (tried a lot of times maybe its the tight lower back that leaves no space to move idk)

Anyway i could start doing some sidebends, any advice on a progression, weight set reps scheme?

I have never lifted with a belt, would it be wise? I always figured it would make me dependant on the belt and might interfere with learning the proper bracing mechanics/contractions because the belt would cover it for me, but i am open to using one if people think it would be good in my situation.

Front squats is another thing i am contemplating for a while now as are sumo deads, my only thing is im kind of scared of trying a whole new lift while i already have back problems. But ill start doing them with just the bar trying the technique in the near future, have been wanting to do that for a while now :).


#4

OK, it sounds like you are pretty bowed up! Of course stretch those hip flexors and roll IT bands, all the regular stuff.

I’m not a PT, but I think you should be able to progress towards a leg raise sometime in the future. For now just try laying on the floor, using you abs to pull your spine neutral, and feel your lower back kinda flatten against the floor. Start from here, even with simple crunches. Be conscious of using your abs and obliques, not your lower back to control where your legs go.

Also try seated Psoas holds. They will teach you to use your abs and back together.

Start out easy on those sidebends. Low weights(25 pounds?), very short range of motion. Keep your neutral position, and try to really feel your oblique. You could also start out with the 1 Arm Farmers Walk. Your oblique will work, even if you can’t feel it. Just be sure to start light, and to maintain position. Think of ab moves as gradually challenging your ability to stay neutral with gradually increasing ROMs and weights. Always remember the point of what you are doing.

In the past I didn’t have a belt either. For the same reasons you mentioned. But I think over time not wearing one, I just developed another way to not brace correctly. Everybody else wears one for a reason, I guess. Try one on sometime, brace against it, and see if it feels good.

Start with a goblet squat if you’re new to front squats. You might even work goblet squatting into your warmups or cool downs or whatever for more practice.

Sumo deads might be good in the future. They work the lower abs and adducutors pretty well. But if these areas are a weakness for you, your sumo technique is bound to be pretty ugly at first. And like you said, ugly lifts and back problems aren’t so good together.

If this has been a 12 year situation, it will take some time and effort to correct. Usually more effort means less time. You’ve got to retrain your body. Be conscious of your neutral position all the time. Check out info from Kelly Starrett on Youtube. The videos are way more effective than just words.

The good news is that your back is going to feel better and better as you work on this.


#5

[quote]FlatsFarmer wrote:
OK, it sounds like you are pretty bowed up! Of course stretch those hip flexors and roll IT bands, all the regular stuff.

I’m not a PT, but I think you should be able to progress towards a leg raise sometime in the future. For now just try laying on the floor, using you abs to pull your spine neutral, and feel your lower back kinda flatten against the floor. Start from here, even with simple crunches. Be conscious of using your abs and obliques, not your lower back to control where your legs go.

Also try seated Psoas holds. They will teach you to use your abs and back together.

Start out easy on those sidebends. Low weights(25 pounds?), very short range of motion. Keep your neutral position, and try to really feel your oblique. You could also start out with the 1 Arm Farmers Walk. Your oblique will work, even if you can’t feel it. Just be sure to start light, and to maintain position. Think of ab moves as gradually challenging your ability to stay neutral with gradually increasing ROMs and weights. Always remember the point of what you are doing.

In the past I didn’t have a belt either. For the same reasons you mentioned. But I think over time not wearing one, I just developed another way to not brace correctly. Everybody else wears one for a reason, I guess. Try one on sometime, brace against it, and see if it feels good.

Start with a goblet squat if you’re new to front squats. You might even work goblet squatting into your warmups or cool downs or whatever for more practice.

Sumo deads might be good in the future. They work the lower abs and adducutors pretty well. But if these areas are a weakness for you, your sumo technique is bound to be pretty ugly at first. And like you said, ugly lifts and back problems aren’t so good together.

If this has been a 12 year situation, it will take some time and effort to correct. Usually more effort means less time. You’ve got to retrain your body. Be conscious of your neutral position all the time. Check out info from Kelly Starrett on Youtube. The videos are way more effective than just words.

The good news is that your back is going to feel better and better as you work on this. [/quote]

Hi, forgot to reply but i have read your reply and appreciate it.
Will try a belt to see how it feels, cant hurt.
Already doing lots of Starretts stuff and other youtube found exercises and stretches, we’ll see where it gets me.