Friday, November 4, 2011

Personal Training: Improve Your Lower Back Health by Understanding Posture Force Couples by Anders N W Lindgreen

All the muscles in our bodies are anatomically structured to balance each other, and whenever one is stronger than the other we get aches and pains. If you see someone with a really tight chest, for example a guy who only does bench press, chances are they have curvature in their upper back, separated shoulder blades and shoulders that are rotated forward. So to balance this you would have to strengthen the muscles in your back that pull your limbs the opposite way, which is something you need to be aware of in your personal training regime.

In terms of your lower back posture, there are four major muscle groups working in conjunction with one and other. Your lower back muscles and your front thighs will pull your hip to create a curve in your lower back, while your gluteus (bum muscles) and your abdominals will pull your hip the other way, creating a more flat lower back. When in balance, you should have a slight curve in your lower back but when one force couple are stronger than the other, you will either be left with a flat back and no bum, or an excessively curved back and larger-looking bum. Either situation will increase the risk of lower back pain in the future.

By far, the most common imbalance is the curved lower back and what you need to do is to strengthen your gluteus muscles and your abdominals, while stretching your front thighs and your lower back. To combat the flat back and flat butt syndrome you need to strengthen your front thighs and lower back while lengthening your gluteus (and back thighs as well). The abdominals are rarely too short, and you should generally be very careful with abdominal stretches as you can only accomplish them by excessively curving your lower back.

Now these imbalances may be due to poor biomechanics, which in layman’s terms mean that in one particular exercise involving more than one muscle group, you are either not activating them in the right order or at all. And with lengthening you need to, apart from making sure you hit the appropriate muscle group, do it for long enough. Generally 5-15 minutes per day and muscle is recommended with more being better.

If you are a member of a gym there will be professional’s at hand to help you troubleshoot and correct your technique where necessary, and it doesn’t have to cost you a cent. The reason I haven’t prescribed any particular workouts or stretches here is because it may do you more harm than good. Had you been a client of mine I wouldn’t just tell you, do this, it’d start by investigating what you are already doing and how you are doing it and so should you. Best of luck!