The post is for your friends (or you?) suffering from back pain.

Over the past few weeks, I have encountered some people with chronic back pain.  They have a history of problems with working out or just general movement and their quality of life suffers due to the pain.

We here at Teamwork are not doctors, but we do have a grasp on the postural problems of those suffering from general back pain.

Below are some tips and suggestions for those of you who have or know someone with back pain who wants to workout, but feel they can't with the pain.

1.)  Do not just suffer through it.  Toughing out pain is counterproductive when it comes to working out.  If you have pain, you will not load the muscle properly and, usually, will not put the right amount of effort into the movement.  If it hurts, stop doing the exercise.  There is always a modification or different exercise to avoid the pain.

2.)  Be aware of how you stand.  This is not just a "stand up straight" suggestion.  Standing up straight is different for every single person.  For most of us, we stick our stomachs out not engaging our core muscles.  This overextends the back and weakens our core.  The best cue for keeping our core engaged is reminding ourselves to keep the rib cage pulled down and keep the belly button pulled in toward the spine.  This takes some of the work off the lower back.

3.) Core work should start from the floor, on your back, learning how to engage your stomach muscles correctly.  You should not be jumping into planks and difficult core exercises.  Instead, you should learn how to use your core muscles to simply move.  Lay flat on the floor, and using only your arm and core muscles, roll your body to laying on your stomach.  Reverse this movement still only using your core and arm.  Repeat this a few times throughout the workout.

Next level would be the "dead bug" exercise.  You can see how to do a variation here.

4.)  Use constant cueing when you workout.  If you are overextended in your back in general, it will probably be exasperated when you workout.  To avoid this, it is best to work with a coach, but you also can just constantly cue your body through touch and self talk. 

For example, placing your hands on your rib cage or stomach, reminds you to properly keep your body engaged.    If you are lifting something heavy, exhale engaging the core and position your ribcage down.  If you are pressing overhead, find a mirror or partner and be extra particular about the movement.  Remind yourself over and over that you need to engage your core.

5.)  If you have too much pain doing a workout, move to interval bike training.  You can get a killer workout that way and it will give your lower back some reprieve for a bit.

We hope this email can help you or your loved ones move toward a better quality of life.  You don't have to live with pain.  Make your normal better than status quo.

In wellness,

Erin and Rod