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Back Pain

Got back pain?

Unfortunately a lot of us do, but for the majority of us that do, it need not be that way. If you have Mechanical Lower Back Pain (MLBP) with a bit of effort you can make the pain go away.

MLBP is often due to strain on the lower back, caused by postural dysfunction (a bad posture). The stabiliser muscles get lazy due to your poor posture and the mobiliser muscles end up becoming overactive and taking on the stabiliser muscles work. The stabiliser muscles get fatigued easily as they are mostly made up of fast twitch muscle fibres and used to short periods of work, this can cause some of the pain you experience.

So how do you make the pain go away?

With a little bit of work. As poor posture is often the cause of the trouble you must first start by correcting your posture. Have a look at yourself standing and sitting for a start.

In standing your lower back should be almost straight with a natural curve of your spine called a lordosis (your back curves in a little). A common faulty posture is an anterior tilt of the hips. This is when you have your bum stuck out and you point the front of your hips down towards the floor. In this position the stabiliser muscles cannot work as effectively as they could, and this leads to back problems. If you stand in this posture stand in front of a mirror and try to tuck your bum in, this should make your lower back straighten up. When you have done this try to old the position for thirty seconds and repeat.

You should practise your posture throughout the day to train your brain to remember the correct posture (yes the brain is lazy given the chose and will revert back to a bad posture as soon a you stop thinking about it). You can do this say when you brush your teeth or when you’re waiting for the bus.

A bad sitting posture can contribute to lower back pain, especially if you work at a desk all day so, heres a few pointers:

  • Ask for a work place assessment, your company should provide you with one
  • Your feet should be on the floor
  • Your knees should be level with your hips
  • You should be sat upright
  • Your eyes should be level with the computer screen
  • Try to get a chair with arm rests on the side
  • If you use the phone a lot throughout the day ask for a headset

Now what?

You can improve your posture but in order for you to keep your good posture you need to train your postural muscles a little more, in the form of core stability exercises and at periods during the day.

Check out the following exercises below:

Level 1 - Core Stability

Level 2 - Core Stability

Level 3 - Core Stability

Ball Exercises

In addition to these exercises in order to get your brain to remember to turn your core stability muscles on throughout the day it is good to practice contracting Transverse Abdominus and to hold it for as long as you can or for a set period of time.

Here are some examples of when to practice:

  • At a red light when driving
  • When brushing your teeth
  • When your waiting for the kettle / toaster
  • When your making that protein shake
  • Walking up / down the stairs
  • Sitting to standing
  • When your on

Also try to switch on your core muscles when your doing any activity that usually aggravates your back pain e.g. reaching up high or lifting.

When you work your core stability muscles the exercises always concentrate on Transverse Abdominus. Which is fine because the contraction of Transverse Abdominus also contacts Multifidus (a core stability muscle in your back). However, sometimes its nice to add something different into the mix and find that deep stabiliser in your back (Multifidus). There are two exercises you can use to find and feel Mutifidus working:

  • Multifidus arm raise
  • Multifidus stepping

You can also stretch your back with the following exercises:

And don’t forget…

Improving your cardiovascular fitness. This is very important to help reduce back pain. It has been proven by several studies and is the advice any good physiotherapist will give you. Why cardio? Well it improves the blood supply to your back muscles for one, giving those tired muscles greatly needed oxygen and the ability to repair.

So should I be resting my bad back?

It is a common belief that if you have a bad back you should rest, this is not the case, not using your back lets it get weaker just like any other muscle. The key is to pace yourself with activity and gradually increase what you can do. Now the medical professions have a better understanding of back pain they have moved away from a ‘you need bed rest and hands on physio approach’. They key to recovering is exercise. So get to the video section and work that core!

If you have any questions, please use the comment form below or post a thread on the forums.

— Phil @ 10:05 pm, October 21, 2006


  1. when your listing the exercises you should state which muscles are being worked

    Comment by melanie — November 17, 2006 @ 7:28 pm

  2. Thanks for the input Melanie, I’ll inform Sarah and see what she thinks

    Comment by Ste — November 18, 2006 @ 8:59 am

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