7/5/12 - The Low Back Myth

There’s a stigma around low back injuries that is rooted deep inside us Americans. The shock and awe of back pain carries huge weight in our eyes, so much so that folks will avoid it at all costs, even if that cost is, oddly enough, their back health. As much as we hear about the importance of getting our fiber from a bowl of Wheaties in the morning, we hear about the dangers of back injuries it seems.

You can’t even help someone move a piece of furniture without hearing, “Don’t use your back.”  What does that even mean? Maybe we ought to stop avoiding a critical part of our system and get stronger.

Nine out of ten folks new to training with us, voice concerns over a potential back injury in the future or worry about a past back injury. Of course, I am no advocate for injuries of any kind, back injuries included. But, I think the pendulum has swung too far.

Folks are so afraid of back injuries that:

  • They don’t develop posterior strength, especially through spinal erectors
  • They cannot, will not tolerate lumbar soreness
  • They avoid foundational movements like the squat and dead lift

After reading the above, anyone educated in biomechanics will tell you this fear is setting folks up for failure. Try this thought experiement with me. How much soreness or fatigue will you tolerate in your quadriceps? Compare that to soreness or muscle fatigue in your low back. 

Safe, effective body position.

Most people will laugh and joke about how sore their arms and legs are, almost to the extreme of rhabdomyolysis. But, stiffness in the lumbar area? Call the cops!

Here’s the deal. The spinal erectors in your lumbar spine are muscles too. Sure, back injuries are a bummer and they are never an unavoidable side effect of exercise, but the social stigma around low back injuries has created pop culture buzz that has forced us to take a few steps back in my opinion. A strong posterior chain, including the low back, are vital for performance, injury prevention, and proper motor function. Getting your back strong might require getting your back sore. 

Try to treat all parts of your body equally when it comes to soreness. If your proud of tender biceps post workout but want to see a physical therapist if you feel ANYTHING in your back, I’m talking to you. A strong back is the best protection against injury.

Plus, we’ve got an incredible doctor on hand for real injuries (treatment@FFOTB.com). For the sake of your back, let’s all get stronger.

 

Logan Gelbrich

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Thursday’s Workout:

For time:

100 Overhead Squats (95/65)