I could start this off by giving you some irrelevant statistic about how many adults will experience back pain at some point in their life, but the truth is you want to read this and watch the drills I am going to give you because I'm betting on those statistics that some time in the last month you've had back pain. And you weren't able to find a way out of it and you are likely dreading the next episode.
I feel your dread too.
Back pain sucks and I say that with first hand knowledge of how sucky it is.
The good news is there is a light at the end of the tunnel when it comes to back pain.
But before we get to that light I need to first say something along the lines of a disclaimer.
I'm not a doctor or a physical therapist or any other kind of medical practitioner that has the prerequisite education and experience required to diagnosis what could be causing your back pain.
And you shouldn't act on any of my advice without consulting with one of these medical professionals first as there are legitimate and serious pathologies that are medical in nature and cannot be solved with exercise.
Seriously it could be as simple as a urinary tract infection that just needs a short course of antibiotics.
So please make sure you rule out legitimate pathology as a cause for your back pain.
That all being said I know from first hand experience that most people never go to the doctor and most people just suffer quietly through periodic episodes of back pain, specifically non-specific, generalized back pain.
That is back pain that appears to have no real etiology.
However after working with many clients who have self reported experiencing this kind of pain I've come to see a trend among those who suffer from this and I've heard my colleagues make a similar observation time and time again.
That observation being that many people who have recurrent episodes of non-specific back pain also have immobile hips, no awareness of their spinal position, weak core muscles, and the inability to separate motion at their hips with that at their lower back.
As you might be able to infer working on these issues both reduces the frequency and severity of back pain and in the majority of people I've trained eliminates it all together.
Again don't get me wrong I'm not claiming I can diagnosis their back pain or give you a specific reason for it, but I can tell you in my experience there appears to be a correlation between the lack of the things I listed above and the presence of non-specific back pain.
And working on these issues seems to provide relief not only in the long-term, but also when the pain is occurring.
Which is great because while I did say at the beginning of this article that I'm betting on the fact that you have already had back pain 0r have back pain I am also betting on the fact that you are someone who trains hard and is reaching for goals and in my experience it's hard to avoid an occasional achy back when you are training hard.
Thus just about everyone can benefit from having these drills filed away for use.
1. SMR Piriformis/Glutes
This is a great drill to help relax and open up tight hip external rotators. We can argue about what foam rolling does and how effective it is, but in my practice I've found a lot of benefit in applying SMR techniques in this area.
I'd go for 2 minutes on each side.
A simple, but very effective exercise to improve the strength of the core muscles.
I'd work up to 2 minute holds and be sure to focus on obtaining a neutral spine.
Think about pulling your belt buckle to your chin.
3. Side Plank
Another simple, but uber effective exercise for strengthening the core musculature.
Work up to 2 minute holds on each side.
4. Quadruped Hip CARs
This is a great drill for making you aware of what your current hip range of motion is and dissociating between motion in your back and hips.
5. Frog Mobilization with Internal Rotation
Here is when you start attacking actual limitations in your hip range of motion.
Move slowly, hang out in corners that feel tight, and don't rush it.
You'll know when to move on, but be ready to get comfortable being uncomfortable.
6. 90/90 Hip Mobilization
This is not only another great drill for opening the hips and gaining control over your hip range of motion, but also finding corners where you need to spend some extra time working in.
Again go slow, don't rush, and move with purpose.
Let me know how these drills work for you!
Happy moving and heavy lifting.
Practical, Purposeful, Effective Training