Key Points About Lower Back Strengthening When Treating Back Pain

If you are not performing lower back strengthening exercises on a regular basis then you are setting yourself up for low back injuries resulting in lower back pain and if not treated properly chronic lower back pain.

Why Lower Back Strengthening
Won't Cure Your Pain

Trying to strengthen a lower back in the presence of chronic low back pain before identifying, treating and correcting any contributing conditions or factors is a prescription for failure. Performing lower back strengthening exercises in the presence of pelvic and spinal imbalances due to a short leg is not only unwise but it risks further strain injuries

Attempting to strengthen the low back that is harboring trigger points will be futile. Trigger points cause a muscle to be weak until that trigger point is a eliminated.

Strengthening exercises for low back pain will never eliminate the pain because low back pain is not present due to weaknesses.

Lower back pain may have resulted from an injury to a weakened low back but a weak low back in itself does not cause low back pain.

Lower back strengthening exercises must be performed to stabilize an unstable low back. This then can make the low back strong enough to prevent injury or further injury in the nature of low back strains or low back sprains. There are many athletes with strong backs that also have chronic low back pain. If strength equated to lack of pain these athletes would not be suffering with chronic low back pain.

There are many individuals who do not possess average or above average strength yet they still do not have lower back pain. Lower back strengthening exercises has much to do with preventing injury but really nothing to do with the absence of pain.

Likewise, the lack of strength has nothing to do with the presence of pain but a lot to do with the increased risk of injury.

Chronic low back pain sufferers often will end up with a weakened low back. This is due to avoidance of exercising in the presence of pain or even out of fear of re-injury or further injury if attempting to exercise.

If you have lower back pain do not think you will cure yourself of pain by performing lower back strengthening exercises alone. It just won't happen.

Only after identifying the cause or causes and associated conditions of lower back pain and correcting or eliminating them will strengthening exercises be of benefit. Exercise will be of benefit only by restoring or improving strength with the ultimate goal of preventing further injury.

The two biggest detriments or roadblocks to strengthening a lower back are pelvic and lumbar imbalances due to a short leg and or the presence of trigger points in the low back muscles.

These must first be corrected before you can affect a positive response to low back strengthening exercises.

You will never eliminate low back pain through exercise alone whether it be in the form of strengthening or stretching.

After you have treated and corrected imbalances and any trigger points then a specific targeted exercise program can be initiated.

These exercises must be specific and targeted. They need to be chosen for a purpose and not just for the sake of exercise.

Ask Yourself These Questions

  • What muscles need to be strengthened?
  • What exercises target that muscle or muscle group?
  • What is the proper execution of these exercise?
  • What frequency should these exercises be performed?
  • What sets and reps scheme should I utilize?

The Three Components of Muscle Fitness That You Need to Address

1. Endurance

2. Flexibility

3. Strength

Any weakness or deficiency in one or more of these fitness components will increase your risk for injury or re-injury and prevent optimal fitness.

All three must be developed and maintained. Let's look at each one separately.

First -- Endurance is the muscles ability to sustain a workload over a period of time. An example is being able to hold your back in a semi-flexed position without suffering abnormal fatigue. Another example would be how long can you hold your arm out to your side without fatigue forcing you to drop your arms.

In a low back situation: how long can your low back muscles permit you to lift an object or load and hold it at a semi-erect position before your muscles fatigue and cause you to drop the load.

Basically, lack of endurance can be equated to fatigue.

Second -- Flexibility can be defined as the ability for a muscle to move through a normal range of motion.

How far can your muscle go from full contraction to full extension. It is the ability of muscles and tendons fibers to lengthen to their normal fullest length possible.

If you force a muscle to go beyond its normal maximum length or its present restricted length you will cause injury to that muscle in the nature of a strain.

A muscle that is in a contracted or shortened state that is forced to exceed its present limits, even though it should be able to lengthen to its fullest potential, will result in injury.

Lastly -- Strength is the ability to perform a unit of work or the ability to lift a load.

So, lower back strengthening exercises are very necessary part of your overall low back pain treatment program. It is not a treatment for low back pain or for the purpose of eliminating low back pain.

Make sure any exercise regimen is goal oriented and includes specific, targeted exercises that will help you move in the direction of your goal.

Your purpose for strengthening exercises is not to eliminate low back pain your goal is to strengthen your low back to allow you to perform your activities of daily living.

The stronger your low back the more capable you will be in performing all your activities without risking further harm or injury.

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