This article is part six in the low back pain series. It is the final article in this series, and will look to address lower back pain without movement limitations. If you have not read the previous articles and you are unsure which category of back pain you are having, please read through the first article to help you navigate your categorization HERE. If you have already done so, and/or you have been told that you are unstable with your lower back, stick on this article to learn how to begin treating this particular low back pain.
If you want to watch a video summary click HERE.
This approach is for lower back pain that does NOT have any leg symptoms, and has a general feeling of being unstable. Actual lower back instability is extremely rare, but nearly everyone with low back pain at some point will get to the point where they feel more vulnerable to reinjury over actually feeling stiff or locked up. Sadly, it’s at this stage when most of the medical systems fail the most. By giving advice to “be careful, lift with your legs and keep your core tight”, we produce a narrative of vulnerability within the person's mind. Even more sad, this education usually makes the person worse in the long run. What we really need is actual strength for the complete spine and hips. This comes through using the back, fatiguing the back, and making the back resilient.
Other Body Parts vs. Lower Back
When we hurt anything else on our body, be it our shoulder, knee, etc., we tend to answer with “let’s strengthen that part.” For some reason, as a culture, we have put the lower back in its own box, believing the lie that it is a weak body part that needs a lot of protection. Why don’t we respond to low back pain with the same response of “let’s strengthen that part.”? The answer to that question really is convoluted and a deep rabbit whole that requires a different blog series, the short answer is, we should.
Improvement in strength is the biggest predictor of reduction of future injury. Look at the statistics:
Stretching = 3% increase in injury
Coordination and movement awareness = 18% improvement in injury reduction
Strength = 57% reduction in injuries
With those statistics, why in the world have we begun to treat our lower back with fragility? Why do we not answer low back pain with building strength, but rather with stretching, which actually increases injury risk?
The first part of treating our unstable back pain is to change our mental knowledge and view around what will actually help. Removing fear and restructuring our thoughts around our lower backs and its strength is an excellent first step in correcting and removing pain from the lower back.
Removing Fear Beliefs:
Maybe you’ve heard some of these “fear beliefs” that perpetuate poor knowledge around our backs:
Your back is “not in alignment””
You are “not moving well”
You are “unstable”
Your imaging “looks horrible”
These are all phrases we want to throw out and stop believing. They are not helpful. Our backs are strong and capable. If you find yourself reiterating these statements, stop. Your back is strong. The way you move is fine. You can be stable.
The Goal With This Back Pain
The goal with this type of back pain is to progress from traction (see post HERE) to finding patterns (see post two HERE), to no leg symptoms at all but maybe “locking up” in the spine (see previous post HERE), to strength. This is not an overnight solution but it is an actual long term solution.
As you build strength, it’s important to change the mindset around low back pain. Many of our beliefs around low back pain hinder our progress because they are based on fear. Fear of heavy load will keep you from adequately progressing your strength building exercises.
When you do heavy squats, your legs might be sore the next day. Sticking with that consistent thought, when you work out your lower back, your lower back will be sore the next day. It’s okay for your lower back to be sore, and it does not mean it needs more protecting.
How We Can Help
Here at the Health Lab, we have established the belief that the back needs and wants load. We want to help you learn to safely load the spine to be stronger and more resilient and build confidence in your mind. If you aren’t sure how to progress to this point, or you are still struggling with many of the fear-based thoughts surrounding our lower backs, schedule your free, 30 minutes discovery visit today. We will help you physically and mentally work through your lower back pain and get you on the road to recovery.