My Routine is Making Me Weak by Ashton Jones
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My routine is making me weak!
The summer appears to be coming to an end: the kids are back in school, sports and practices are back in session, and you’re spending even more time in traffic for your commute to and from work. And the number of patients in my clinic with complaints of low back pain has almost doubled!
So why the increase in low back pain around this time of year? It’s your routine. The amount of time in sitting positions in a car or at a desk increases, while the amount of time spent being active or resting decreases. At the same time, the number of tasks that are put on hold until the weekend grows exponentially, but the time available to complete them is next to nothing.
Most low back injuries happen during simple tasks that include at least one of the following: bending, lifting, twisting, carrying. These actions aren’t dangerous by themselves, and especially not a problem when you are performing them while paying attention to your form. It’s the time when you go to lift a box that you think is heavier than it actually it, or if you just reach to grab something “real quick” but you don’t have your core engaged. Sometimes, it’s just a quick twinge or a dull ache that creeps up on you after a couple hours. When you get that dreaded “pop” that drops you to your knees – get to the doctor asap!!! For the “lucky” ones that just get the twinge or ache, anti-inflammatories, light stretching, and some skilled physical therapy can whip you back in shape in no time.
Now, maybe you’re the type of person who says: “Well, what can I do to prevent this from happening in the first place?!” (I love that type of person!) Here are a couple of exercises to get you started. Let’s start with what your “core” actually is… yes, it does include your rectus abdominus (abs, 6 pack, etc), but that’s just part of it! Think of your core as a corset that holds and stabilizes everything between your ribs and your pelvis. It consists of: rectus abdominus, internal/external obliques, transverse abdominus, quadratus lumborum, lumbarparaspinals (multifid/rotatores), and your pelvic floor. The goal here is to initiate proper activation of the core to allow for stabilization during activities, especially when you are consciously making them fire.
There are a few basic exercises that I love to have my patients perform: abdominal bracing, posterior pelvic tilts with adduction, clamshells, prone leg extension, and planks. Click here and enter the code B79SCMH to see a page that shows these exercises with pictures and verbal descriptions. Remember to start small and progress as tolerated. If your pain persists or increases, make an appointment to get checked out and then get into your local physical therapist for a more detailed and personalized plan of care!
And, most importantly, remember to breathe!