One of the most common issues I see as a trainer is lower back pain/tightness. Some of the pain can easily be assessed and corrected like when someone tells me they deadlifted the day before and now their lower back is tight. In this instance, I focus on helping that person with their deadlift form and it usually goes away.
Some other times though, it's a little bit more complicated because a client will walk into the gym and say "I don't know what I did, my lower back just hurts". In these cases, in which there is no way to pin point exactly what causes it, I do the only thing that I can to help which is making sure that the spine is aligned properly. The easiest way to know whether this is happening or not is by:
- Making sure the lower ribs are aligned with the pelvic floor-
If we can achieve this, we know that the spine is aligned properly and there should not be excessive compression anywhere, including the lower back.
Before we go any further, it's important to note that I am not a doctor and do not diagnose pain. The above strategy is a pretty broad one and if that does not improve the client's pain, I refer them to a doctor.
Let's take a look at the image below from DNS to get a visual understanding.
In the upper left picture (A) we can see our natural spinal curves. We want to have an appropriate amount of lower back curving in (lordosis) and upper back rounding out (kyphosis). You can also see in the picture the thoracic diaphragm and pelvic floor (the two green domes) facing each other.
When people come to me with random lower back pain, I know that they are coming in with some sort of variation of the upper right picture (B). The two diaphragms aren't aligned properly and we can see the increased lower back curvature. This increased curvature puts more stress on the lumber spine and affects the following muscles:
- spinal erectors
- transverse abs
- hip flexors
Note: we can also have the opposite problem, a spine that is too flat. This will also affect these muscles and misalign the diaphragm and pelvic floor.