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Lower Back Issue - Need Advice

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  • Lower Back Issue - Need Advice

    While abroad this Spring I joined a Crossfit gym in Prague where I was working out about 3 times a week. On one occasion I did two days of workouts in a row. One was a 50-50-50x3 day which included sit ups and the other which had kettlebell thrusts. After the first work out (which I got 1.5 of the way through) my lower back was definitely feeling a little sore but nothing out of the ordinary as far as I could tell. After the second workout which I finished intensely I was very sore and a little worried about the sore pain I was feeling in my lower back. I asked the gym leader for stretching advice and tried what he suggested: pvc pipe over back, lean forward at waist and stretch, lay down with knees to the side and back straight and flat against the ground. Neither of these really did anything and now here I am more than a month later and I still have a pain in my lower back that affects how I can sit. I've found that my glutes are at least partially affected by this injury/strain because I've experienced a little stiffness in them that feels associated with the lower back muscles. I've found a little relief by sitting with one of my legs bent in a half lotus shape and the other leg out behind me, leaning forward at the waist over my front leg, but this only helps temporarily.

    I haven't tried situps since but based on observations of trying to get out of bed, I don't think I could do one. I can sit up straight just fine and I am perfect while standing as long as it's not for 1+ hours. Walking can also get a little painful after that time. This mostly makes it difficult to sit up/slouch on a chair or bed and puts me at about a 45 degree angle when sitting, with back support. Sitting with no back support hurts very quickly.

    I don't know what I've done specifically but I'm trying to figure out how to fix it. My guess is that the strain/injury came from kettlebell thrusts (the one where you rock your hips and push the kettlebell above your head with momentum). I would prefer to not spend money on doctor's visits if at all possible as I don't have a lot right now and my health insurance for my new job hasn't kicked in quite yet. If no one here can help, I would appreciate at least advice on where to look. I love stretching and am willing to do guided yoga if that might help. Thanks for reading and hope that I can get fixed up. This is an extremely annoying and painful issue.

  • #2
    NEVER DO SITUPS ! !
    NEVER DO SITUPS ! !
    NEVER DO SITUPS ! !
    NEVER DO SITUPS ! !

    It puts too much pressure on your spine and will lead to spinal problems. Do crunches instead. The military abandoned situps for this reason.

    Grizz

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    • #3
      Don't do specific abdominal exercises at all ... they are grossly overrated. For the lower back you can do hyperextensions - or simple stuff like reverse planks or back bridges.

      As for your lower back "soreness": Back off. And watch this presentation:

      YouTube - ‪Bill DeSimone's Congruent Exercise [Full]‬‏

      In a nutshell: There are many exercises out there which can damage your spine over time because it just wasn't built for those types of stresses. If you enjoy those exercises or you're doing a sport that demands those exercises - by all means go ahead, but know the risk involved. And if you simply want to improve your health and *general* fitness, stay away from exercises with a less favorable risk/reward ratio.
      MikeEnRegalia's Blog - Nutrition, Dieting, Exercise and other stuff ;-)

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      • #4
        Originally posted by Grizz View Post
        NEVER DO SITUPS ! !
        NEVER DO SITUPS ! !
        NEVER DO SITUPS ! !
        NEVER DO SITUPS ! !

        It puts too much pressure on your spine and will lead to spinal problems. Do crunches instead. The military abandoned situps for this reason.

        Grizz
        Sit Ups are not the problem. It's peoples execution of the exercise that is.
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        • #5
          The biggest source of confusion with lower back / abdominal exercises is that people tend to confuse hip flexion/extension with core work. In any given exercise, pay attention to whether your legs are moving in relation to the hip/pelvis, or if your upper body is moving in relation to it. As far as execution is concerned, the more force you apply, the more dangerous the exercise is (potentially), and the same goes for whether the exercise is congruent with the biomechanical properties of the human body.
          MikeEnRegalia's Blog - Nutrition, Dieting, Exercise and other stuff ;-)

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          • #6
            Get thee to a physical therapist before it gets worse.
            This time, like all times, is a very good one, if we but know what to do with it. Ralph Waldo Emerson

            Any given day you are surrounded by 10,000 idiots.
            Lao Tsu, founder of Taoism

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            • #7
              How are your abdominals and obliques??

              Strengthening those means the back doesn't have to do quite so much. Strong obliques are overlooked. It's only since I've done specific yoga poses for the obliques and abs that myy back pain's gone.

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              • #8
                For a couple of days do:

                Heat in the AM. No forward bending. Ibuprophen.

                If the pain improves my guess is there is a weakness or lack of flexibility somewhere.
                Do you have a desk job?

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                • #9
                  I've noticed a decrease in back issues since I started doing the bridging exercises in Convict Conditioning. Everyone does abdominal workouts but very few do anything to strengthen their backs. The army is especially bad for this, as they do abs and pushups, but no back work at all.

                  Also, the military has not abandoned sit-ups. They are still being done on a daily basis around the world. The Army does them in their physical fitness test, as do the Marines. (NOTE: While the Marines call them crunches, the correct action requires nearly a full sit-up, very similar to the Army's standard.)

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                  • #10
                    Don't do situps. focus on thing like planks, spiderman crawls, or knee raises if you need to do any ab specific training.

                    Front squats and heavy thrusters should strengthen your core significantly. Remember to always use proper form. Maybe add in some hyperextensions or light romanian deads. but be careful with the weight and the form

                    Never do forward bending stretches. Look up some other hamstring stretches. Also try to improve flexibility in your glutes, hamstings, and hip flexors.

                    You may or may not have success with physical therapy. Personally, i went for 6 months, 2-3 times per week, and did my "homework" and it barely made a difference. So in my opinion, the mckenzie exercises are way overrated. but that is just my opinion

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                    • #11
                      I have an inversion table and I use it daily. I had sciatica a few years ago and getting an inversion table helped me heal and get back to normal. I used the table several times a day back then, but these days I still invert daily as ongoing maintenance. I recommend an inversion table to anyone that has a back bone that doesn't have rods.
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                      • #12
                        Whenever I have back problems it usually goes hand in hand with tightness in my whole posterior chain. Stretching my glutes/hams with either static stretching or foam rolling helps loosen everything up back there, releasing the tension in my lower back and helping it heal faster.

                        I'd browse around MobilityWOD for posts about back pain. He's never steered me wrong before.

                        When all is said and done, if nothing is helping, I'd see a chiropractor. People claim they're full of it, but they've worked for me in the past when my back got really out of whack.
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                        • #13
                          ^ Often back problems come and go on their own ... but since our brains are not built for reliably identifying cause/effect relationships, we tend to attribute the going away part to whatever we happened to have been doing during that time.


                          One of the biggest take home lessons from this thread should be that people tend to neglect their lower back and at the same time overtrain their abdominal muscles. Most people have an imbalance and should not do any ab work at all and instead focus entirely on the lower back. Doing proper hyperextensions plus some planks if all most people ever need.

                          And lay off the barbell squats and deadlifts!
                          MikeEnRegalia's Blog - Nutrition, Dieting, Exercise and other stuff ;-)

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                          • #14
                            I think that my issue is muscle related more than spine related, but I'm not 100% about that because I'm not an expert. The pain isn't localized at the center of my lower back, but rather on each side. I also remembered that I was doing an exercise that I forgot to mention. I don't know the name of it but you balance your back at a 45 degree angle from the ground and thrust your legs out and in while moving your torso a little bit. Ultimately I think that this injury/strain came from doing some exercise incorrectly.

                            A lot of the responses have been bashing situps and mentioning that back pain is a common side effect of bad form but there were only 2 or 3 posts that were actually helpful. Not to say that I don't appreciate everyone's responses.

                            I'll check out mobilityWOD. How much does physical therapy cost? I might consider a chiropractor a little bit later but I don't think it's a bone problem.

                            Does anyone who is qualified have advice on stretches that I can gently do to target this area and alleviate some pain? I don't think that the pain is coming from having weak abdominal muscles, I think I just strained my lower back from a series of exercises that I shouldn't have done so closely together.

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                            • #15
                              My guess is your glute medials are weak, your t spine lacks mobility and your hips and hamstrings are tight... leading to the injury.

                              I'd suggest getting a foam roller and learning how to use it. (focus on loosening up t spine and piriformus)
                              Work on stretching hips and hamstrings. (grok squat is good for hips for example)
                              Strengthen your glute medials specifically and entire core for that matter.

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