Back pain can be one of the most debilitation pains we can experience. Almost everything we do requires core engagement for stability. When we have pain in our back, every moment of core engagement is painful.
So, this week, we are going to help you better understand your back pain and, hopefully, how to fix it. Everything we are going to talk about is assuming your back pain is from tight or strained muscles. If you have a structural issue, like a herniated disc, see a professional.
Acute vs Chronic
To held fix and prevent back pain, we first need to know whether the pain is acute or chronic.
Acute back pain is something sudden. You picked up a heavy deadlift with a rounded back and strained a muscle. Or, you slipped on ice and jarred your low back. Acute back pain is usually caused by a larger issue, but not always. Regardless, it is sudden and you need to know what you did to cause the pain.
Chronic pain, on the other hand, is pain that is ongoing. Your back doesn’t hurt while you do front squats, but seems to hurt for days afterwards. You always have this nagging back pain that prevents you from picking up objects in regular life. Maybe you get low back pain after standing from long periods of time. The primary characteristic is that this pain is ongoing and doesn’t have a specific sudden cause.
Flexion vs Extension
The other factor we need to know is whether your back hurts more when you bend over or when you lean back.
The spine is a series of super mobile joints. You can basically move in 360 degrees. Most of the time, we move our spine in two directions: Bending forward and leaning backward.
Flexing the spine is when you bend forward. If you bend over and touch your toes, your spine moves into flexion. We generally see flexion issues if someone picks up a weight from the ground with a rounded back. If you know that bending forward often hurts, you have Flexion Intolerance.
On the flip side, leaning backward is called extension. You may also know of extension as an arched back. Extension issues are most commonly seen when lifting weight overhead. When you lose your position, you lose tension in your midline, your chest flares upward, and your low back arches. If you commonly have pain when leaning backward, you have Extension Intolerance.
Let’s Fix It
Stay tuned this week. We will address both intolerances specifically and talk about causes, diagnoses, and fixing it.