Our series of Desk Jockey mobility and flexibility posts has been extremely popular. And has inspired some great questions from the community. One of the recurring themes is back pain, so we set to work… Our go to guy for fixing your back is Eric Wong, author of Bulletproof Back. We asked Eric your question: “What can be done about lower back pain.” Here’s what he had to say…
What can I do for a stiff lower back?
I’ve gotten this question dozens of times over the years and with good reason.
But the answer is completely counter-intuitive, so if you’re looking to loosen up a lumbar area that feels more like a brick than a back, pay close attention…
I’ve been training clients since 2000, when I started working as a trainer part-time while studying for my Kinesiology degree.
Now, I work with high level athletes who beat other people up for a living, but that’s another story for another day…
Over the years, I’ve trained hundreds of people and encountered many different aches and pains, some ranging from the extra-ordinary, like the lady who felt cold behind her left eye when she raised her right arm (she was later to be outed as a malingerer), to the common “My back is stiff. What can I do?”
To the latter question, I’ve learned a lot, not only through my years of study, but also through years of personal, painful experience.
Luckily, now, I’ve been free of a painful low back, for over 5 years and can do whatever the heck I please, whether it be rocketing down the side of a mountain on a thin little board or trying to tap out my buddy’s in the dojo.
And here’s one thing that I’ve discovered personally and helped others discover to DRASTICALLY improve how their back feels and almost ‘magically’ loosen up their lower bricks backs:
A tight lower back more often than not needs STABILITY, not stretching.
Notice I used the disclaimer ‘more often’ – this isn’t the case for everyone, but more often than not, meaning 70% + of the people I’ve encountered, need stability over stretching.
For most of us, the majority of our day is spent sitting in chairs.
There are 2 problems with all this sitting: one, it makes us into slumpy cavemen and two, it makes our core stabilizer muscles sleepy.
Now, picture the spine, which is basically made up of vertebrae (bones) and discs that go in between each vertebrae for shock absorption and support.
The most common cause for stiffness in the lower back is damage to the posterior aspect of the disc.
For those of you who aren’t anatomy geniuses, here’s an analogy that will help you picture what I’m talking about.
The vertebrae are hockey pucks and the discs are (Tim Horton’s) jelly donuts.
Yes, I am Canadian.
Now, in good posture, everything sits on top of everything nicely.
But when you slump forward constantly or you go to tie your shoelaces and the core muscles don’t stabilize your spine, one end of the jelly donut gets pinched, and the jelly can get shot out of the back of the donut!
This event is often referred to as a disc bulge or worse, a disc herniation.
When this happens, your brain goes into panic mode and signals all of the muscles to tense up so you can’t move.
When you can’t move, you can’t cause any more damage to the area.
This is a primitive response that is designed to keep our body’s most important areas safe.
But when this happens, what’s the first thing that most people do?
If you said ‘stretch’, congratulations, you win the red corvette and dream vacation.
Basically, when we stretch a tight low back, we’re fighting the body’s defense mechanism, so what will the body do?
It doesn’t want you to move because the disc is bulging and/or the core muscles aren’t doing their job.
So instead, what I learned to do for myself when I had low back pain and taught my clients to do is perform 4 key exercises that I call the ‘Damage Control’ routine.
When you perform the Damage Control routine, you’re basically telling your brain that there’s nothing to worry about, all of the stabilizer muscles are working properly, so you can stop tensing up the muscles and let everything relax.
Exercise technique is very important here, so make sure you follow the details described in the video and be on your way to quickly recovering from a stiff lower back:
If you guys have any questions for Mr Bulletproof Back, leave them in the comments. We’ll see if we can get Eric over here to answer them!
And if you’d like more info about Eric’s program, just use the link below. We’ve had countless clients thank us for referring them to Bulletproof Back since it first came out. So if you’re suffering from back pain, make sure you check it out.
Bulletproof Back <— Click here for more info…