Bulletproofing your body against lower back injury!

Prevention. An ounce of it is worth a pound of cure, right? In no place is this statement more true than in the weight room. It's much easier to take a few steps to prevent catastrophic injury, than it is to complete the long and arduous process of coming back from a major injury. Injury prevention methods are usually quick and don't take much time. However, those of us who are eager and feeling invincible tend to overlook them occasionally.  And it only takes one tweak or turn the wrong way, and major injury.

The back muscle group is right up there with shoulders and knees, one of the most at-risk muscle groups of the body.  A myriad of intertwined muscle sheaths and fibers, your back allows your entire body to twist, turn, and pull in a near-infinite number of ways. Tying to the shoulders, ribs, legs, and abs, your back is the basis for the core, and it involvement is required in just about every exercise you use. The back can take a beating, but injury can slow down its awesome prowess

Lower back pain is tricky for many lifters in a few ways.  First off, it can be extremely unpredictable. You might feel fine one minute, and be on the floor wincing a moment later, with zero warning.  Also, low back pain can vary greatly in its range of pain. You might get through a deadlift workout while nursing a minor lower back injury, with little to no pain. Then you'll sneeze or carry in the groceries, and shooting pain will surprise you out of nowhere.  Lower back pain can also affect the function of many of the other muscle groups of your body, which can result in your attaining new injuries elsewhere, or just putting in a sub-par performance. Either way, you should be going out of your way to keep that lower back safe.  Let's learn a tips and tricks you can use to make that happen!

Training Methods

First off, you need to create a general set of training ideologies which you can enact to keep injuries to a minimum.  This is where the ounces of prevention are earned! Most lifters walk into that squat cage or deadlift mat and instantly want to destroy that weight! They're pumped, they're primed, and they're ready to pull some heavy weight.  The last thing they wish to do is expel some of their strength reserves with light warm up sets of 15, 12, or even 10 reps. They want to get right to those 3 to 6 rep sets where the POWER is found.  However, warming up with the lower weights and higher reps is essential for preparing your joints, muscles, tendon for the lift, and providing the region with adequate blood flow to the muscle groups. 

Your training form itself should always be textbook perfect. Yes, you COULD move more weight if you were to enable a bit of "Body English" into your repetitions.  But if the name of the game is muscular development, and not the movement of some arbitrary number of pounds, then you would be best served by keeping the form perfect and weight used moderate to moderately heavy.


Exercises

Aside from intelligent training practices, there are some exercises you can specifically include which will strengthen the lower back, thus making it *nearly* impervious to injury. Bird Dog with the Sandbag grab, weighted sled drags, and a variety of lunges can

Additionally, it goes without saying that a well-constructed lower back training regimen involving deadlifts, rows, and hyperextensions (along with any back machine your gym may possess) will strength up the area and make it more injury resistant. 

Limitations

The lower back is flexed hundreds of times each day as you run, walk, stand and sit. You move for most of your waking hours, and the lower back is a huge part of most of the movement that your body conducts. Knowing your own limitations is a very important factor in keeping the lower back safe. Don't try for a new personal best in the gym if it's 50 pounds above what you normally use. Don't attempt to carry three cases of water if you've never carried in two cases before. Don't stand on concrete for 8 hours without breaks and stretching. The body can be very unpredictable when it comes to injuries when we push that lower back region past its known capabilities. 

Warm ups

Always warm up your muscle…. And not just at the gym!  Many of the most mundane activities can lead to back injury. Getting out of bed in the morning, or bending down to pull a kid from the bathtub, you might not be alert, there may be some variation in your posture, and you may not be warmed up. Injury to the low back can occur when you least expected, including as a result of the aforementioned sneeze. Always work to keep your body warm and limber when performing any task which involves the lower back.  Athletes and the non-active of the world suffer alike from lower back issues.  Being Superman in the gym may not prevent an injury!

Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the face, said Mike Tyson.  And everyone feels invincible in the gym - until they don't. Every single lifter, knowingly or otherwise, enjoys a period of time when the weights move gracefully and the body isn't hurting in any way.  This period doesn't last, of course, and the first tweak or even minor injury is usually the first reminder of this. Your best bet to learn from the wisdom and experience of others, and work to avoid this initial major injury in the first place.  






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