I suffered from back pain for years, I know how it feels. My posture was bad, my shoulders were slumped. Benign activities like cooking in the kitchen would cause my back to ache. Walking and standing for a prolonged amount of time would cause pain. It was incredibly frustrating and depressing. I feared I was destined to suffer from aggravating back ache for the rest of my life. However, since commencing a weight training program, my back problems began to dissipate. My posture dramatically improved within a year, my spine was now well-supported and my posture was naturally upright and aligned. Was this pure coincidence? Absolutely not.
Weak muscles equal back pain. Your spinal support will be weak if your core muscles are weak, a spine surrounded by weak, under-developed muscles will lead to postural problems and back pain. The core muscles (abs, erector spinae, glutes, lower back, and hips) stabilise the whole body and most importantly, the spine. For instance, strong glutes act as a buffer and take pressure off the lower back. The erector spinae muscles support the spine and promote good posture.
A well-balanced and functional weight training protocol will alleviate back pain, improve your posture and strengthen the muscles which support your spine.
Executing weight lifting exercises with strict and correct form is vitally important, bad form will exacerbate your back problems. You need to understand correct form and practice the exercise before introducing weights. There is a simple rule when weight training – stop when you feel pain, listen to your body.
I would advise against using a weight lifting belt, a belt will promote bad form and give you a false sense of security. We want to strengthen our core muscles, not rely on a belt. The Transverse Abdominis (TVA) is our ‘weight lifting belt’, it wraps around the spine and protects it.
The best exercises for strengthening your core and your body in general are the basic compound exercises. Multi-joint movements are functional and apply to the real-world. Here is a list of compound exercises: pull ups, squats, deadlift, rows, press ups, overhead press, and bench press. These exercises will work the whole body and enable you to develop a well-balanced physique.
Daily activity like standing and walking requires muscle contractions, strengthening your muscles, tendons and ligaments will take strain off your spine and foster a naturally upright posture (your ears, shoulders, hips, knees, and ankles should be aligned for healthy posture), enabling you to complete your daily activity without niggling pain.
Weight training will also help you lose fat by burning calories and raising your metabolic rate, thus you will be burning calories when out of the gym. Excess weight will place undue stress on the spine, losing weight will therefore relieve pressure from the spine.
[box type="important"]You should consult a doctor before starting a weight training regime, preferably a chiropractor (back specialist), to advise you on the best course of action.[/box]
Niggling back ache and back pain is not a life-sentence, you can improve and even eliminate your condition through weight training.
Paul has been a sufferer of back and neck pain for the last 5 years. He created his personal blog Herniated Disc Treatment to provide information on back pain and tips on recovering from a herniated disc.