I wake up to lift weights at 6am three times per week. I only have an hour so I make sure that my workouts are time efficient, that includes weight training. A fellow gym goer started a conversation with me and he was talking about how he hurt his back when deadlifting (aka picking a barbell up from the floor), and has been dealing with sciatica for 10 years. We talked about what I do as a profession and he was so enthusiastic. We talked about how some of the best advice for spine health is counter intuitive. Here’s what he left with from our discussion (I want to make sure that every interaction I have with people, they leave with clarity):
1) If you are in an active state of pain, you should be finding any position, stretch, or exercise that provides a sense of relief. You have permission to do it, even though internet articles and social media stars say not to.
2) There really is no such thing as a bad exercise or posture. But if you do too much inefficient movement, the body will signal that it needs a change. This is often due to excessive motion that occurs at the back (usually shear forces).
3) When lifting weights, your spine should be stable. What this truly means is that there should be minimal change in shape of your back when moving. If you are lifting with an arched back, then it should stay arched throughout the entire lift; if you are lifting with a rounded back, then it should stay rounded through the entire lift.
4) Arching the back is overrated. That means pushing your belly button out, and contracting your low back muscles. Whether you are squatting or deadlifting, it is important to keep your abs engaged. You can’t contract your abs when you are arching, it just isn’t possible. So how can we do it without hurting our back. You have permission to lean forward; the axis of movement is going to be at your hips and not your low back. It is a simple 2 step process: 1) Brace, 2) Hinge.
It may seem counterintuitive to lean forward and hinge at the hips, as it appears that the low back could be stressed. However, when I teach this movement to my clients, they notice that their abs are stronger and their symptoms don’t flare up. We broke free from that fear by introducing something that is so counterintuitive that it worked.
So give yourself some freedom to move and break free from this pain. You got this! If you need a little more help with your journey, then book a call with us here.