When I was younger in my school life I had suffered a lot from lower back pain. It brought my mood down whenever it starting coming on and caused me discomfort and distress. I tried to work out what was causing the pain and noticed it started to appear when I stood up for long periods of time or when walking long distances.
I carried on and shrugged it off like any young lad would do. Eventually I hit high school where the pain continued, it hadn’t got any better by my ignoring it. I became frustrated and self-conscious, questioning “why are my friends not dealing with the same problem”. If you’ve suffered with lower back ache you’ll know how much it affects most of your day to day living. Another major thing was exercise. At this point I hadn’t found any love for exercise so I wasn’t that keen on doing it anyway, but another discourager was that my lower back would be in pieces- any physical activity and it would be aching the rest of the day. I’d twist, turn and bend over to relieve the tightness, but nothing did the trick.
I sought help and started seeing a physiotherapist. They are skilled in the fixing and finding the root-cause, but after a few visits they couldn’t diagnose me with what may be causing the problem. They told me it could be growing pains (I was already twice as big as the average guy in my teens) and suggested it might be the fact I have a slightly longer leg than my other. So, I was given an exercise to address the differences to basically balance out my pelvis not sitting straight. I was open minded and did the exercise prescribed consistently for a month or two but it did not fully fix the on-going pain I kept dealing with.
Defeated, I tried to get on with life and concluded there was no treatment to solve it.
Fast forward couple years to when I started falling in love with the gym. I lifted weights and was eating how I should to get the body I wanted. I was doing six-pack abs routines that my idols did to someday having the same physique they had. It was during this time I trained and performed new exercises with barbells that I began to notice my back feeling stronger and less painful at time when I stood for a while.
The abs routines I followed were only the basics you see today, nothing special (crunches, leg raises, planks, etc.), but there was one core exercises I put down to fixing my back problem. This was called the “deadbug”. Knowing what I know about the body now I can tell that the physio was wrong. It wasn’t growing pains, I just had zero core strength and lacked the awareness to hold myself in a way that didn’t cause damage. The combination of the big strength exercises and specific core movements helped teach me coordination, control and fixed my imbalances to correct my poor posture that I was walking around with daily.
Do you want give the deadbug a try?
The answer should be yes- especially if you suffer with a weak core and back issues and have run out of options!
This exercise is very simple, yet requires a deep level of focus to complete it properly to gain the benefits.
- Lay down on your back, legs bent at 90 degrees and raise your feet up (your shins should be parallel to the floor) Put your arms straight out in front of you, over your chest, pointing to the ceiling.
- Tuck your chin in (think double chin face) and lightly push down your back in to the floor.
- Next think about bracing your abdomen (imagine being punched in the gut) and hold your breath.
- Begin to lower one arm back over your head so that it is reaching behind you. At the same time lower and straighten opposite leg at the same time slowly towards the floor, keeping your back against the floor/matt.
- Go as far you can and reverse this by exhaling hard whilst raising both limbs to the start position.
- Repeat the other side.
It sounds easy to do because it actually is that simple, however you must concentrate on tensing hard and monitoring breath control at the times I explained to nail this exercise. That way you will feel the deep muscles work hard to resist letting go which would compromise your spine and lower back muscles.
A common flaw I see often with this is people lower their arms and feet too low down and fast when they aren’t strong enough to hold the lower back down. Start by working within your capabilities and do it correctly. Carrying on doing it wrong, rushed and not using the intended muscles is only going to waste your time, and you won’t build a tighter, stronger core.
A trick to help is think about pushing down your ribs before you start. Watch whether they stay down during the set and saying “ribs down ribs down” in your mind. This helps a lot when I give cleints this cue to follow.
Perform 2-3 a week starting with 6-8 reps per side. As you find it becomes easier AND you do not let your form break down, slowly increase to 10 reps each side for 3-4 sets.
From there you can play with different variations on the deadbug. Test your core muscles harder by using added bands, weight, static holds and in different planes of motion.
Try this bullet proof core exercise to build a strong mid-line that is prepared for any unexpected moments from playing sports to daily living, and stop the pain you once suffered.
If you want some advice that is more personal based on your fitness profile and goals, please give me an email and let’s figure out what we can do together.