Some experts estimate that as much as 80% of the population will experience back pain in their lifetime (Rubin, 2007). This estimation is bolstered by the fact that the American population spends at least 50 billion dollars each year on issues related to back pain (MEDTEP, 1994). Individuals should work towards prevention rather than treatment of back maladies. One of the best preventative measures is proper posture in the midst of exercise and activities of daily living to improve spinal health.
Most lumbar disc injuries occur when the spine is in flexion or extension (Callaghan & McGill, 2001). This is one of the reasons that coaches are adamant about cuing clients to find a neutral spine position before proceeding with activity (e.g. shoulders back, tucked hips, tightening glutes). In exercise, one never wants to compromise spine position for the ‘ability’ to load more weight in an exercise (Boyle, 2016). One should practice stability prior to incorporating movement or increasing one’s weight-load while being mindful of avoiding excessive flexion or extension. The middle portion of the available range of motion has previously been described as the neutral range — this has been purported to be advantageous for preventing injury and enhancing athletic performance (Herring & Weinstein, 1995).
The next time you step foot into a gym, check your positioning. Don’t wait for a coach to correct your spinal position. Take responsibility for your postural and spinal health by learning the basic body weight movement with proper mechanics first and from that point forward, challenge yourself a little more.
3 helpful tips for back pain prevention:
- Warm up and stretch properly, paying special attention to the hamstrings and hip flexors.
- The hamstrings need to be stretched in order to relieve pressure off of one’s back and prevent anterior tilt of the pelvis. The same goes for stretching the hip flexors as tight hip flexors can produce a posterior pelvic tilt.
- Maintain a healthy body weight through proper nutrition and an active lifestyle.
- A high fat and caloric diet in combination with an inactive lifestyle can lead to obesity, a condition that can put stress on the back. Proper nutrition to maintain a healthy body weight helps you avoid unnecessary stress and strain on your back. It is important to get enough calcium and vitamin D daily in order to keep your spine strong. These nutrients assist in the prevention of osteoporosis, the culprit to blame in many cases of bone fractures leading to back pain.
- Warm up and stretch properly, paying special attention to hamstrings and hip flexors
Having the hamstrings at a normal length can help to prevent a posterior pelvic tilt and having the hip flexors at a normal length can help to prevent an anterior pelvic tilt. Stretching these muscle groups can help to relieve unnecessary pressure off of the spine.
Boyle, M. (2016). New Functional Training for Sports (2nd ed.). Champaign (IL):
Callaghan, J.P., and S.M. McGill. Intervertebral disc herniation: Studies on a porcine model exposed to highly repetitive flexion/extension motion with compressive force. Clin. Biomech. (Bristol, Avon). 16(1) :28–37. 2001.
Herring, S.A., and S.M. Weinstein. Assessment and nonsurgical manage- ment of athletic low back injury. In: The Lower Extremity and Spine In Sports Medicine (2nd ed.). J.A. Nicholas and E.B. Hershman, eds. St. Louis: Mosby Year Book, Inc., 1995. p. 1189.
In Project Briefs: Back Pain Patient Outcomes Assessment Team (BOAT). In MEDTEP Update, Vol. 1 Issue 1, Agency for Health Care Policy and Research, Rockville, MD.1994.
Lee, J., Y. Hoshino, K. Nakamura, and Y. Ooi. Trunk muscle imbalance as a risk factor of the incidence of low back pain. J. Neuromusculoskeletal Syst. 7:97–101. 1999.
Rubin Dl Epidemiology and Risk Factors for Spine Pain. Neural Clin. 2007; May; 25(2):353-71.
“Handout on Health: Back Pain.” National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal
and Skin Diseases. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, n.d. Web.
28 June 2017.
B.S. – Kinesiology (Westmont College)
Aysia was born and raised in Burbank CA. She graduated from Westmont College on May 6th 2017 with a B.S. in Kinesiology. Aysia played 4 years of basketball at Westmont College under Coach Kirsten Moore. She was 3 time All-Conference and 3 time All- American athlete and she holds the Westmont’s All-Time scoring record as well as the career rebounds record.
Aysia became interested in Kinesiology when she had a strength coach in high school. She was able to see how her workouts contributed to her progress on the court. Westmont’s Kinesiology Department helped foster her passion for coaching and sports performance with the guidance of some amazing teachers including Prevail CEO Chris Ecklund and Trainer Alexis Anderson.
Aysia plans on getting her CSCS this fall and possibly continue to play semi-pro basketball overseas.