Low Back Pain – Why Do I Have Pain Only Occasionally?

Eighty percent of us have low back pain once in a while or just on occasion? Why? If you have been cleared by the doctor and it has been diagnosed as mechanical low back pain, the answer may be easy. It could be that your abdominal muscles are not “working” or firing as soon as you need them to be ‘firing’. In fact, let’s say your deep abdominal muscles need to be retrained to work immediately when called upon not when they “get around” to working for you. The reason there is pain is that something has occurred that has delayed the timing of these muscles to fire. As a result, the delay is often labeled muscular dysfunction.

We have several layers of core or abdominals. There are muscles that works when we do ‘crunches’ and that involves superficial muscles called rectus abdominals and select oblique muscles. The muscles that need to fire immediately upon moving, getting up, sitting down, reacting to someone perhaps ‘bumping’ into them or when we hit a baseball with a baseball bat etc. are the transverse abdominis and the multifidus muscle. Fortunately, when the transverse abdominis (Tva) works, the multifidus also works.

The multifidus and the Tva are stabilizer muscles and work to support the spine. Unless you have other back issues, isometric contraction exercises will certainly help to decrease or negate back pain. Why? When these muscles react immediately and support the spine, the spine is so called “not left alone”, there is immediate support. There are two examples of such exercises: planks and bird dogs. A plank is an exercise where you rest on your forearms and your toes, suspending the rest of the body between these two anchors. The body should be straight in line between the forearms and toes. Hold this position for 20 seconds, three times. Remember, you are trying to improve how quick these muscles will fire.

The second exercise is called “bird dog”. This exercise is performed by ‘getting on all fours’ or knees and hands. Your hands should be directly under your shoulder and your knees directly under your hips. Slowly extend your left arm next to your head parallel to the floor, while your right leg is extended behind you so that it is also parallel to the floor. Try in this position to keep your hips level and not lean to one side. Tip: Brace your abdomen as you try and hold this position for 5-10 seconds, performing 10 repetitions on each side. Then switch arms and legs. The first time you perform either of these exercises it will not be easy.

Knowing that so many of us have pain at some time or another is a reason to have some exercises that we can do anywhere and anytime. Keep working on these few exercises and most likely your inner core muscles will get stronger and fire sooner than they have when you experience pain.

There are a lot of exercises for spinal stabilization. If you would like to further explore other conditions or other topics that can be shared, I invite you to check out my website at http://www.williamsonfitness.com So many people can be helped with some basic exercises.

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