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  1. #1

    Lower Back Troubles

    I know that the first response will be go see a doctor/PT/Chiropractor but lets move past that for now.

    So my dad had back problems and I do as well. Couple reasons why are I have terrible posture and I sit in a chair all day at work then go home and sit in a chair all day on my PC. I'm in decent shape (5'10", 160 pounds) and I exercise 4 times a week. For back strengthening I do two exercises: Chin-ups and I'm not sure what the second is called but basically it's like a row. I stand and hold a bar around my waist then pull it up to shoulder level (the bar stays under the elbows).

    For me my lower back is the main trouble spot. I've gone to PT who gave me some exercises to do (supermans, stretching, etc) but it was only a minor improvement so I stopped doing it. I've thought about yoga as well but never done it. At this point it's unlikely my posture will drastically improve as I've had bad posture all my life (hunch over). Other recommendations are getting a massage once a week which is not practical as it is far too expensive. Additionally, the PT I went to seemed like he knew some chiropractic stuff as he would realign my body and it was incredible how much it helped but sadly it only last about a day before I was back to having problems.

    Anyway, I'm not sure what I'm really looking for but if anyone has some thoughts I'd be interested to hear.

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  2. #2
    The only time I managed to hurt my lower back was trying to lift a large concrete ring used to construct manholes. Apparently my ego wasn't sufficiently strong to make up for my weak lower back. My lower back has been a limiting factor for my weightlifting for some time. Muscle weakness can not only limit overall strength gains, but can affect posture as well.

    From what I understand, Bruce Lee badly hurt his back doing Good Mornings. That's an exercise that resembles a bow to where the upper body is parallel to the floor with a barbell rested across the shoulders. From my understanding of anatomy and physiology, the spine is designed to bear weight down along its length, and not crosswise, which would put stress on the fexible connective tissue holding the vertebrae together.

    Strengthening the lower back might help, but if there's already damage, then putting it under stress would generally be bad. The easiest low impact way that I strengthen my lower back and "core" is a basic exercise I do standing in a doorway. I place the palm of one hand against the door frame. While pressing against the door frame I twist my body back and forth through a range of motion against the resistance. I then place the back side of that hand against the other side of the door frame and repeat the process. Then I switch hands and repeat the whole thing. A bodyweight exercise that does generally the same thing would be one-handed pushups. Free weights wise it would be barbell twists or wood-choppers.

    Bruce Lee also did muscle tension exercises. He would be sitting at a boring meeting and repeatedly flex his abdominal muscles to strengthen them without being too obvious about what he was doing. I advise caution in doing these next exercises while sitting as the back can be rounded and putting stress on a rounded back could be bad for some. A little more obvious exercise that I do is while sitting I place my hands palm down on my legs and lean forward while pushing against the movement with my arm strength. I will then hold my legs just under the knees and pull backwards to likewise work my lower back.

    Hope you get your back sorted out.

  3. #3
    Quote Originally Posted by NightZero88 View Post
    I know that the first response will be go see a doctor/PT/Chiropractor but lets move past that for now.

    So my dad had back problems and I do as well. Couple reasons why are I have terrible posture and I sit in a chair all day at work then go home and sit in a chair all day on my PC. I'm in decent shape (5'10", 160 pounds) and I exercise 4 times a week. For back strengthening I do two exercises: Chin-ups and I'm not sure what the second is called but basically it's like a row. I stand and hold a bar around my waist then pull it up to shoulder level (the bar stays under the elbows).

    For me my lower back is the main trouble spot. I've gone to PT who gave me some exercises to do (supermans, stretching, etc) but it was only a minor improvement so I stopped doing it. I've thought about yoga as well but never done it. At this point it's unlikely my posture will drastically improve as I've had bad posture all my life (hunch over). Other recommendations are getting a massage once a week which is not practical as it is far too expensive. Additionally, the PT I went to seemed like he knew some chiropractic stuff as he would realign my body and it was incredible how much it helped but sadly it only last about a day before I was back to having problems.

    Anyway, I'm not sure what I'm really looking for but if anyone has some thoughts I'd be interested to hear.
    You've only got your self to blame here if it's still hurting ignoring advice, who told you to stop?

    There are many causes of lower back pain, broad examples include, have you got tight hamstrings? have you got a weak core? If you got a bad posture, do something about it! Doing nothing is only going to make it worse. You say you exercise 4 days a week, are you warming up and cooling down? are you putting alot of pressure on your back e.g doing doing dumbell shoulder press without sucking your core in?

  4. #4
    Quote Originally Posted by Qanlayeni View Post
    You've only got your self to blame here if it's still hurting ignoring advice, who told you to stop?

    There are many causes of lower back pain, broad examples include, have you got tight hamstrings? have you got a weak core? If you got a bad posture, do something about it! Doing nothing is only going to make it worse. You say you exercise 4 days a week, are you warming up and cooling down? are you putting alot of pressure on your back e.g doing doing dumbell shoulder press without sucking your core in?
    Nobody told me to stop, I did after doing it for 2 months everyday (the PT lasted for that long) with no noticeable change.

    Tight hamstrings - Possibly

    Weak core - Possibly though I do 170ish sit-ups after each workout. 50 regular sit-ups, 20 leg raises, 50 where you rotate left to right while leaning back slightly (unsure of name), 50 where you do a regular sit-up but across your body while bringing the opposite leg forward (so you tilt to the right and touch your right elbow to your left knee).

    I do not warm up and I believe it is generally considered to be unnecessary.

    I do put stress on my back in terms of military press, etc, for shoulder exercises mostly.

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  5. #5
    I use to have those lower back pains when I started going to the gym, but they solved kinda fast once I started to take turns between gym and Pilates. My posture is not perfect yet, but it improved a lot since then.

  6. #6
    The two exercises you mentioned doing - pull-ups are for your upper back, and the vertical row are mostly shoulder / some upper back. If you're suffering from lower back problems, they won't help much.

    As to your posture - you can fix that, if you're willing to work at it. Also you could do with less time sat at a computer - I start getting a stiff lower back too, if I spend days on end sat down. Sounds like you could do with getting up and about more. Oh also - it might be worth looking at something like http://www.amazon.com/Homedics-MCS-2...ywords=shiatsu ... it's a one-off cost, and it really helps.

    As to exercises for your lower back - I'd check them with your PT first, but you might have a look at Romanian Deadlifts (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DFTeSVuq4oY) and Hip Extensions (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RzyJHCSHa30 - more glutes but some lower back too).

  7. #7
    Mechagnome Minrolol's Avatar
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    Sounds like your thoracic extensors are weak. Do you back or front squat? Did you do weighted back extension/ supermans? I know for myself and many people I workout with even when we started as noobs non weighted supermans were too easy which is why you probably only saw minor improvement. Another thing you can do is just stop slouching over and force yourself to sit up right. Your muscles probably will get tired but push through it or they wont improve. As long as there isn't severe pain you should be fine.
    Last edited by Minrolol; 2013-08-15 at 05:55 PM.

  8. #8
    I hurt my lower back a few years ago and the pain plagued me for a long time. Ever now and then my back would just go "out."

    What I had to do was force myself to start stretching it everyday. It hurt a lot to do this. But after a few weeks it hurt less. And after a few months it was less. Then I started to get back into strength training. I started doing very low weight deadlifts, squats other back exercises to slowly build up the strength. Every week I would add a small amount of weight. (5 lbs usually) I started very LOW. I cannot stress this important part enough. Having back pain means your back is very weak. If you try a moderate amount of weight you will end up damaging your back for a lifetime.

    After about 6 months of slowly stepping up weight and doing back exercises, my muscle got built up enough so that my spine sits lower than the muscles itself. Now, pain isn't 100% gone. There is always some pain sometimes BUT I can arch back now and I couldn't do that before. If I had to put a number on it, I would say I am 90% pain free. I think this is because my muscles are built up enough that they take the strain off my spine.

    This isn't an over night fix. And 2 months of something small exercises isn't enough. I stretched for 2 months before I started doing any type of real weight training on my back. This took 6 months to get it feeling 50 - 60% better. It is a slow road to recovery for this type of problem.

    I wish you the best and I hope my advice helps you in some way.
    Last edited by socalx; 2013-08-15 at 06:11 PM.

  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by Aliessil View Post
    The two exercises you mentioned doing - pull-ups are for your upper back, and the vertical row are mostly shoulder / some upper back. If you're suffering from lower back problems, they won't help much.
    That's what I kind of figured.

    Quote Originally Posted by Aliessil View Post
    As to your posture - you can fix that, if you're willing to work at it. Also you could do with less time sat at a computer - I start getting a stiff lower back too, if I spend days on end sat down. Sounds like you could do with getting up and about more. Oh also - it might be worth looking at something like http://www.amazon.com/Homedics-MCS-2...ywords=shiatsu ... it's a one-off cost, and it really helps.
    Honestly I doubt I'll improve my posture at this point. I know I should but it's just not something I can get myself to do for long. In regards to sitting at the chair that's not really an option. I work at a software company so I am stuck in my desk. I can get up whenever I like but most of the day is spent in a chair. Then when I go home I'm big into gaming so again in a chair, especially during raids. The computer is a relaxing thing for me so not much can be changed here.

    Quote Originally Posted by Minrolol View Post
    Sounds like your thoracic extensors are weak. Do you back or front squat? Did you do weighted back extension/ supermans? I know for myself and many people I workout with even when we started as noobs non weighted supermans were too easy which is why you probably only saw minor improvement. Another thing you can do is just stop slouching over and force yourself to sit up right. Your muscles probably will get tired but push through it or they wont improve. As long as there isn't severe pain you should be fine.
    No, I haven't done any deadlifts. I took them out of my workout routine because I have limited equipment at my gym and I am a bit concerned with hurting myself. The superman's were done with no weights so that is a possibility.

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  10. #10
    wheres the pain, what kind of pain, when is it present, hurt the most? does it shift from side to side?

    usually hip flexor stretches are a good place to start as tight flexors pull on the pelvis in bad directions.....
    http://www.osteoarthritisblog.com/wp...xorStretch.jpg

  11. #11
    Quote Originally Posted by perfektion View Post
    wheres the pain, what kind of pain, when is it present, hurt the most? does it shift from side to side?

    usually hip flexor stretches are a good place to start as tight flexors pull on the pelvis in bad directions.....
    http://www.osteoarthritisblog.com/wp...xorStretch.jpg
    It's in my lower back. Typically it is always sore but not terrible. I was just in the car for about 6 hours yesterday and it was really sore after that. Generally centered right in the middle just above the waist. It's mostly just a stiffness.

    I'm sure it will be bad after I go for an hour bike ride tonight as well from leaning forward.

    Hip flexors were part of the stretches I got from my PT. There was a bunch of exercises, each week added 1-2 more and by the end I was doing about 5-10 of them a day.

    I'm mostly looking for something I can build into my workout routine for the sole reason I do that 4 times a week. I do have some issue with keeping myself doing something if I don't see an improvement. Lack of motivation I suppose. I know I won't get it but a miracle pill would be nice.

    Note: An additional note is cracking my back seems to relieve the pain briefly. I do this by somewhat laying down in a chair and rotating my torso from left to right. Probably not the best thing to do but seems to help.

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  12. #12
    Stood in the Fire Rageadon the Huntard's Avatar
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    Try sit-ups, if it's you skeleton that hurts you will push those "absorbers" (they tend to get out of position they're supposed to be if you overload the area to much) which is in between every knuckle in your body back with your stomach, my gym teacher told me that, it even stood in the book he gave us... but if it's the muscle i don't have a slightly idea, my left muscle down in the lower back hurt like hell sometimes.

    oh! btw, my stepfather had the same problem as may you have, and i really really hope you're able to fix it before it get worse or else be ready for an operation :/

  13. #13
    Quote Originally Posted by NightZero88 View Post
    So my dad had back problems and I do as well. Couple reasons why are I have terrible posture and I sit in a chair all day at work then go home and sit in a chair all day on my PC.
    I have been having some neck and back pain due to increased activity in front of my PC. The chair I was using was a decent leather one but didnt support my rear end enough and also my arms rested on the arm rests weird causing my shoulders to always slouch. Went and get a very nice ergonomic chair and after a week everything went away. Be warned though they are NOT cheap. You will spend $400-$800 or even up to $2000 for the high end ones but its worth it if you spend an extended amount of time in front of a computer.

    Office Depot has a ton:
    http://www.officedepot.com/a/browse/...rs/N=5+531626/
    Last edited by tiffy33; 2013-08-15 at 08:07 PM.

  14. #14
    Mechagnome Minrolol's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by NightZero88 View Post
    That's what I kind of figured.



    Honestly I doubt I'll improve my posture at this point. I know I should but it's just not something I can get myself to do for long. In regards to sitting at the chair that's not really an option. I work at a software company so I am stuck in my desk. I can get up whenever I like but most of the day is spent in a chair. Then when I go home I'm big into gaming so again in a chair, especially during raids. The computer is a relaxing thing for me so not much can be changed here.



    No, I haven't done any deadlifts. I took them out of my workout routine because I have limited equipment at my gym and I am a bit concerned with hurting myself. The superman's were done with no weights so that is a possibility.
    I didn't mention dead lifts were you referring to the squats? *On second thought if you meant the weighted supermans nvm however you still didn't answer the squat question"
    Last edited by Minrolol; 2013-08-17 at 09:38 PM.

  15. #15
    Quote Originally Posted by Minrolol View Post
    I didn't mention dead lifts were you referring to the squats? *On second thought if you meant the weighted supermans nvm however you still didn't answer the squat question"
    No to squats either. Sorry, thought I read that someplace, maybe not.

    Outside of biking and walking/jogging after, my workouts are all upper body stuff.

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  16. #16
    Deadlifts, squats, and good mornings. Once you have reached a decent level of strength, you're not going to get that much out of 150 crunches or 60 second supermans. There's much more efficient outlets for correction. Deadlifts, even with lighter weights, encourages proper posture. Results are immediate for me after heavy sets. That said, you need the flexibility and technique to do these lifts appropriately. It's easy to learn but you have to make sure it's solid.

    Tighten your core for extended periods of time to encourage better posture at the computer desk. Petition for a stand-up desk setup at work (if you have that kind of pull).

    Quote Originally Posted by NightZero88 View Post
    Outside of biking and walking/jogging after, my workouts are all upper body stuff.
    Need to work out the wheels, man.
    Last edited by Projali; 2013-08-18 at 03:10 PM.

  17. #17
    Mechagnome Minrolol's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by NightZero88 View Post
    No to squats either. Sorry, thought I read that someplace, maybe not.

    Outside of biking and walking/jogging after, my workouts are all upper body stuff.
    Definitely need to at least back squat. Squats are one of the best movements for posture. I would definitely stay away from good mornings unless you work with a trainer because its really easy to F your stuff up doing them wrong.

  18. #18
    Now I don't know and this might not help you but here's what I think is your best immediate options:

    Make sure your core (torso mainly) is strong. I'd say that would be your best bet for helping your back handle the stress during a day. Now, personally, I don't really like machines or weights unless one is engaged in some specific thing where one needs the specific weight on muscles, because all it does for most people is to stress the body in an unbalanced way and create an unbalanced physique for general use. Of course, if you're body-building or doing sports that require an unbalanced physique, then weights are great. It allows you to create unbalanced strain on different muscle groups. If you're not doing that, I'd really say to dump any weights to begin with honestly. It's much harder to seriously injure yourself from just doing own-body exercises than meddling with weights that can easily strain your body in weak parts and create injuries.

    With that said, I'd say drop the weights for some time. If you have a strong upper body (shoulders, arms etc.) but a core that's not equally trained, then you'll just add
    more weight for your back to carry all day, and especially if you're sitting down a lot and you can't transfer the load to your legs.

    Instead, do basic exercises, do a lot of push ups, sit-ups (you can increase your weight load by stretching arms, holding legs in the air etc.) and as fitting, back bends. Do a lot of those (you can increase load by removing an arm, leg etc. for push ups) then your back will have an easier time carrying the weight of your upper body.

    Then, as to whether you have any actual injury to your back tissues is hard to say. Can you create immediate pain in your back at will if you do a specific action that normally wouldn't cause pain for most people? Is it mainly a matter of straining it after long use and the muscles getting tired and thus, more pressure is put on your spine etc.? Do you have any kind of sudden, sharp pain or immobilizing pain that people normally don't have? In general, do you think you have acquired any injury there or elsewhere that might be related to it since you were born basically? . In all generality and without meaning to be rude, do you think you were born that way there (probably since your father also has problems with it?) or have you acquired some injury at some point to tissue in the body that might be related to it (and as such, might be able to be cured)?

    Generally, I would say to give up the weights, do a lot of core exercises while managing the load by removing support from a limb or stretching limbs and then to massage your back yourself if you feel pain there and preferably to lay down on your stomach and stretch it/give it a rest. Strong muscles in your torso in general can help your upper body posture a lot and reduce the pain from over-straining it and if you're experiencing a specific pain at some point in your body (which you are in your back), then it might help to reduce the imbalance of your body that can easily come from strengthening your biceps/triceps f.ex. more than your big back muscles, ab muscles, lower back muscles, chest muscles, shoulder muscles etc.

    If you really got some injury there relating to bones, muscle or some sort of tissue damage elsewhere, then lay down on your stomach and give it some rest and try to massage the part that are hurting.

    That's really all I would say you could do on your own to help you, otherwise the only other options might be to accept that your back will need more rest than people without that problem, see if there is any related problem elsewhere on your body that makes you hunch more (the body is really wholly connected - a damage to one place might cause weakened flexibility or function elsewhere on the body) or go and get some sort of scanning at some physioterapist/chiropractor and see if there is any thing that shouldn't be as it is and get a possible surgery if there is so.

    Before all that, I would really say to 1) drop the weights 2) do a lot of core exercises with only your own body (which you can still generate high load from - how many can do Bruce Lee's famed 2 finger push ups?) and 3) if your back hurts, lay down on your stomach and massage the areas that hurt to relieve it of any possible injure and to help the area relax and rejuvenate itself.

    May not help, but personally can't see much more you could do.

    Oh, and running lightly can also help your whole body synergy be tested and therefore trained, and can train your lower torso a bit as you will be using your ab muscles and lower back muscles to lift your legs some and in general strengthen the muscles that take some of the impact from the running, like in your back, and help train those longer muscles there. And stretch your back if its sore after a long day, use both the "extending" one and the "relaxing" one. Never stretch to pain, but only to relief and a bit of tension/effort.
    Last edited by Tenver; 2013-08-18 at 10:01 PM.

  19. #19
    Quote Originally Posted by Tenver View Post
    Make sure your core (torso mainly) is strong.
    Yes, I've been thinking I really need to start working on my core. Do you have any suggestions for core exercises?
    Quote Originally Posted by Tenver View Post
    Instead, do basic exercises, do a lot of push ups, sit-ups (you can increase your weight load by stretching arms, holding legs in the air etc.) and as fitting, back bends. Do a lot of those (you can increase load by removing an arm, leg etc. for push ups) then your back will have an easier time carrying the weight of your upper body.
    I am doing some pushups, I used to do them more but I slacked. Need to build up into them again.

    Quote Originally Posted by Tenver View Post
    Then, as to whether you have any actual injury to your back tissues is hard to say. Can you create immediate pain in your back at will if you do a specific action that normally wouldn't cause pain for most people? Is it mainly a matter of straining it after long use and the muscles getting tired and thus, more pressure is put on your spine etc.? Do you have any kind of sudden, sharp pain or immobilizing pain that people normally don't have? In general, do you think you have acquired any injury there or elsewhere that might be related to it since you were born basically? . In all generality and without meaning to be rude, do you think you were born that way there (probably since your father also has problems with it?) or have you acquired some injury at some point to tissue in the body that might be related to it (and as such, might be able to be cured)?
    It's basically just a permanent stiffness in my back. It does hurt slightly to bend. I also have an issue that's a bit hard to explain. It seems like a pulled muscle where if I bend wrong or jerk I pull it and I basically can barely move. Breathing hurts, bending hurts and nothing works (have tried massage, pain meds, etc). It centers right between my ribs and I can't really tell if it's in my back or my chest. Unsure if it's related but likely not. So I don't really know the answer to your question but the back stiffness has of course gotten worse as I've gotten older. As I said it's just a stiffness but not real pain.

    Quote Originally Posted by Tenver View Post
    Generally, I would say to give up the weights, do a lot of core exercises while managing the load by removing support from a limb or stretching limbs and then to massage your back yourself if you feel pain there and preferably to lay down on your stomach and stretch it/give it a rest. Strong muscles in your torso in general can help your upper body posture a lot and reduce the pain from over-straining it and if you're experiencing a specific pain at some point in your body (which you are in your back), then it might help to reduce the imbalance of your body that can easily come from strengthening your biceps/triceps f.ex. more than your big back muscles, ab muscles, lower back muscles, chest muscles, shoulder muscles etc.
    The lifting is not to become big and strong it's just I feel like being healthier and eating better/working out.

    Quote Originally Posted by Tenver View Post
    If you really got some injury there relating to bones, muscle or some sort of tissue damage elsewhere, then lay down on your stomach and give it some rest and try to massage the part that are hurting.
    Sadly massage is very temporary for me. Feels better for a matter of hours or a day max. Even a chiropractor is similar.

    And thank you for the good tips, has been very helpful.

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  20. #20
    I used ot get lower back pain, my dad did too, but someone told me to swim, especially breast stroke, and that has helped a lot. I'd got to the point where I couldn't sit in the car onlong journeys but I'm ok now and notice a difference if I don't swim for a while.

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