If you’re getting into the process of strengthening your back, in particular your lower back and core, following an episode of back pain or some element of back dysfunction, then you may be curious if there’s any exercises you should actively be doing – or equally whether there’s any exercises you should be avoiding. We’ll be taking you through what you should be thinking about as you move through the rehabilitation, and the exercise that will be helpful for you.
The first, and most important thing, you should be thinking about when you’re doing exercises, is maintain your lordosis in your lower back. If you’re not sure what exactly a lordosis is, it’s the natural arc or curve that should be present in your lower back. Sometimes we have patients come into the clinic, who are worried their doctor has told them they have a lordosis – but it’s definitely nothing to worry about. It would be like a doctor making an observation that you have two legs. When a lordosis is present in your spine, it prevents excess stress from affecting a single area of your spine – instead the weight is distributed evenly through the lower back and all the structures: the discs, the facet joints, the muscles, the ligaments etc. So it’s very much a good thing to still have a lordosis. When you’re going through preliminary stages of rehabilitation for your lower back, you need to remember to keep that lordotic position when you’re performing exercises. Whether that’s something like a side plank, or abdominal rotations, in order to strengthen your core, you’ll want to be keeping the lordotic position to keep it neutral.
How To Perform Weighted Exercises
Once you’ve got the hang of other exercises, you may want to move on to some more complicated ones. You should be focusing on maintaining the neutral lordosis in the lower back, especially when moving onto exercises that involve bearing weight on just one side – such as lunges with a weight being held on one side. With lunges, if you did used to perform them weighted, we do encourage patients who are getting more advanced with their exercises to hold a kettlebell up onto one shoulder, to keep the same nice and neutral as you’re performing the exercise.
Lunges aren’t something that will explicitly train your lower back, but it will train your core, and your lower back will stabilise in order to deal with an asymmetrical load in a dynamic movement like a lunge. The final step will be moving on to performing squats and deadlifts. If you’ve been through the rehabilitation stages properly when you’re doing your strengthening exercises, you will actually be able to develop habits that mean when you go into squats and deadlifts you can be more thorough with your technique. Starting on lower weights, focusing on form and a higher amount of weights, you should be more aware of when you may start to deviate from a good form and stop yourself before re-injuring yourself.
Increasing Weight Gradually
With these types of riskier exercises, it’s vital you’re not jumping to put up the weight too fast. Your spine needs to effectively learn to deal with the increased amount of load bearing it’s having to go through in the gym. You will be able to adapt slowly in due course, and being patient with this step will mean that you’re going to be much more efficient with dealing with any daily load bearing you’re putting your spine through outside of the gym. Effectively strengthening your spine will make it more resistant to injury in your everyday life, to prevent relapsing in the long-run.