5 Tips to Protect Your Lower Back

Why is your lower back so prone to injury?

The lower back is subject to injury while lifting a heavy object, twisting, or a sudden movement—any of which can cause muscles or ligaments to stretch or develop microscopic tears. Over time, poor posture or repetitive stress can also lead to muscle strain or other soft tissue problems.

And while a muscle strain sounds simple, in the lower back the pain from a simple strain can be severe.

The lumbar spine has 5 motion segments. Most twisting and bending is divided among those segments, although the majority of the motion takes place in the lowest two segments, called L4-L5 and L5-S1. The structures in these two lowest segments are the most likely to wear down over time or be injured.

Tips to prevent lower back pain

1. Exercise your core – there are varying opinions when it comes to core training in preventing or treating lower back pain and varying opinions to what is the ‘’core’’. My opinion of true core strength is related to stability and stability is the ability to maintain a position in the presence of change. Particular joints need a strong level of stability such as our ankles, lumbar and shoulder region. Muscles that support the lumbar region involve the ‘’core muscles’’ so we need to train them to protect the lumbar spine. A loss of stability will result in an injury, so everyone needs a strong level of stability!  

2. Correct your posture - Poor posture places pressure on your back and can cause degenerated discs to become more painful. Support the natural curve in your lower spine by using an ergonomic chair and set a timer on your phone to remind yourself to stand up every 30 minutes and reset your posture. If you can, use a standup desk for at least part of the day.

3. Lift heavy objects correctly. Even if you're young and strong, you can still injure your lower back if you lift a heavy object incorrectly. Through functional exercises our aim is to train the body and the mind to lift correctly.

4. Be a savvy athlete. No matter how fit and athletic you are, a wrong move could injure your lower back. Make sure you understand the potential lower-back pitfalls of your favourite sport.

5. Maintain mobility! People think that stretching may be just enough to help with their lower back pain, particularly stretching the hamstrings. But stretching only assist’s with increasing flexibility, which is related to improving the length of a muscle whereas mobility is related to the movement of a joint. With reduced mobility of a particularly joint, our body will find compensation somewhere else which will most likely lead to injury e.g. a loss of mobility in the hips will result for the lumbar spine to be more mobile and be prone for injury and increase pain. Most of us have restricted hip mobility due to our seated jobs and long car rides. Look to open up your hips to help relieve your lower back.