Never Injure Your Lower Back Picking Things Up Again
Getting old sucks, but that’s not why you have lower back pain picking things up. The reason your back hurts is because you’ve either lost the ability to move properly, or you’ve lost the strength to sustain proper movement over time. Lucky for you, you decided to read this article and do something about it. We’ll not only show you the proper way to move in order to pick things up, we’ll show you some key exercises on how to strengthen the muscles involved.
Hinge Through the Hips
When bending over to pick things up, the movement we’re looking to produce is called a hinge. We want to create the movement through the hips, not the knees and certainly not the back. Hinging over the object will allow us to load the hips, glutes, hamstrings, and engage the core. This takes the majority of the pressure off the spine.
Don’t Squat the Object
Moving excessively through the knees is a misguided attempt to take pressure off the back. However, not only does this reinforce poor posture and mechanics, it places more stress on the spine. The more vertical we are, the further away the object is from our center of mass. The further from our center of mass, the more sheer force placed on the spine, instead of the muscles that support the spine.
Rounding the Back
Rounding the back isn’t necessarily a bad thing. The spine was meant to flex, bend, and rotate. But certain areas are better for movement than others. Rounding the muscle of the upper back isn’t an issue. This is your thoracic spine and it was developed to move. The lower back, however, is a different story. We want to prevent movement in this area of the back under load at all costs.
Refer to the video and/or the pictures below
We put out a great video that discussed not only how to build up the pattern of the hip hinge, but how to build strength in the movement pattern to be more resistant to injury. You can check it out here: Progressing the Hip Hinge
In the video, we discuss the transitions for the hip hinge, which we’ll break down here.
Tall Kneeling Hip Hinge
This exercise is great because it teaches the hip hinge pattern with less to focus on. By taking the ankle joint out of the equation, we can better focus on the movement of the hips. Watch it HERE
One of the staples in our training programs, the pull thru is an exercise that helps teach the hip hinge. It also is 100% safe on the spine as it deloads the spine while pulling you toward the machine, and strengthening the lower back as you extend away. Check it out in this video
The first two exercises are enough to help strengthen your back for most hinging movements you’ll experience throughout your day. However, if you have kids, or are tired of being limited by what you can do, the kettlebell deadlift is a must. Although more strenuous, it prepares your body for picking up heavier loads. We think it’s a must for just about everyone, but we’ll let you be the judge. Watch it HERE