Take the 2-minute tour ×
Physical Fitness Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for physical fitness professionals, athletes, trainers, and those providing health-related needs. It's 100% free, no registration required.

I was diagnosed for "Muscle Spasm" a while ago for my lower back pain. The pain went away for about a year and then came back again. I had a blood test taken and found out that I am deficient in Vitamin B12 and Vitamin D3. I am taking medicine for it.

During this 1 year I have gained weight, and now am 12-16 kg overweight. I have been trying to go to gym and controlling my diet, but whenever I run (on a treadmill) my back starts feeling sore. The soreness goes away in a day or two if I don't exercise. I am doing some stretching exercises, but I need to lose weight which is why I run.

I am a software engineer by profession so sitting long hours is a part of my job. Any suggestions on what I could improve my weight loss?

share|improve this question
1  
I cleaned up your question, but you need to clarify what are you asking here Do you want to strengthen your lower back or are you asking how to improve your weight loss? The question title says one thing, but the text says another. If you're asking two separate things, then please create two different questions for each topic. –  Matt Chan Oct 24 '11 at 12:50
    
Thanks for making it precise... ill try to more "To the point" in future –  adcool2007 Oct 24 '11 at 19:44
    
What's your weight and height btw? –  mike Oct 25 '11 at 9:04
    
I am 5'7 and my weight is 75kgs... –  adcool2007 Oct 25 '11 at 9:28
add comment

3 Answers 3

up vote 12 down vote accepted

You don't need to just strengthen your lower back. You are having lower back spasms and difficulties but it's not because your lower back is weak. It's because of systemic issue directly related to your sedentary lifestyle. As such no 'band-aid' solution will help, instead you need a comprehensive overhaul.

What you probably suffer from

  • Muscle imbalances: being sedentary means you to use a limited amount of muscles, as such a wide range of muscles atrophy and become weak. This causes pain/injury due to incorrect mechanics, for example lifting with your knees or rounded back due to weak hips.
  • Muscle tightness: muscles need to be stretched and used otherwise they become shorter and tighter. This leads to bad posture, pain, and incorrect mechanics when moving or lifting.

  • Muscle weakness: similar to imbalances but just overall muscle weakness. This causes various problems since the muscles can't support the skeletal systems properly and you end up with pain/spasms.

To Address them

  • An activity a day. Everyday you must do some kind of activity. Whether it's walking, or lifting, or cardio. Anything that involves moving for at least 20-30 minutes.

  • Lifting, although not necessary, is the best way to strengthen muscles and correct muscle imbalances -with a proper workout. It also is a great way to get exercise and burn calories. I recommend a routine that is focused on compound (Big) movements. Spend a lot of time learning form because lifting incorrectly can lead to further injury and problems down the road.

    • Another option is to start with machines or easier variations of compound lifts to get your feet wet. For example:

      Eventually you want to include proper compound lifts.

  • Cardio, which doesn't have to be intense. Just some kind of movement at a higher intensity than a fast walk. A workout like couch25k works well to ramp you up slowly and give you structure. You can also simply work on an elliptical or exercise bike or just do swimming 2-3 times a week.

  • Stretching -static and dynamic- is extremely important. Improve your flexibility; especially in your hips and hamstrings. A lot of back problems are related directly to lack of hip mobility/glute activation. In my Ultimate Warm Up article I discuss Mike Boyle's Joint By Joint approach and give some general stretches to do, this would be a good starting point.

  • Foam rolling, which is mentioned in my article, is also crucial. The short of it is: muscles get damaged, muscles get repaired, scar tissue forms up. This is especially true for anyone who is sedentary. Scar tissue causes tightness in certain parts of the muscles, which leads to uneven distribution of forces. This leads to pain, reduced flexibility and increased chance of injury. I personally recommend any 6" x 36" round high density roller (Amazon link).

  • Better diet both for reducing your bodyweight and improving your general health:

    • Drink A LOT of water
    • Eat whole natural foods
    • Stay within a sensible calorie deficit -between 750 and 500 calories a day. Here's a simple calculator
    • Eat veggies with every meal
    • Eat fruits regularly
    • Stay away from sugar, processed foods, frozen dinners, junk food etc.

    Diet is the most important thing for fat loss, not exercise. You can't out-train a bad diet.

  • Sleep earlier and more. Get at least 8 hours of sleep before 11pm if possible. Install f.lux. This helps immensely with recovery, mood, energy levels and motivation during the day.

  • Finally, be proactive about your health. Stop letting your body waste in a chair and start moving. This is an early warning sign of worse things to come if you don't act. Use this to take the first step in what will be a massive improvement.

share|improve this answer
2  
Great answer, particularly the part about subbing goblet squats. –  Dave Liepmann Oct 25 '11 at 14:01
add comment

A couple exercises helped me with lower back weakness. In my warm-ups and morning workouts, I did these:

  • Cat-cows from yoga, to get blood flowing in the lower back and to get used to firing those muscles. I did a set of 10 immediately after my warm-up.
  • Round-backed deadlifts with very, very low weight, performed slowly with a distinct pause at the top and the bottom. I did sets of 25 or 50 in the morning after the cat-cows. I used an 8-pound dumbbell at first. Make sure you get the full range of motion.
  • Up-dog/down-dog series from yoga, to alternately stretch and use the lower back muscles
  • Hindu push-ups (video), for the same reason as the up-dog/down-dog series

In my strength workouts, using a barbell, I did these:

  • Romanian deadlifts done for 3 sets of 10 twice a week, increasing weight by 5 pounds each time.
  • Twice-weekly low-bar back squats. These are more of a general strength exercise, but they worked as a good diagnostic and strengthening exercise for my lower back: when my back was weak, my squats were weak. When my back got stronger, my squats felt a lot better.
share|improve this answer
add comment

You might want to shorten your running distance, but increase your speed. Long jogging sessions can cause wear & tear on the body. And especially if you're not giving your body enough rest in between this could be making your back worse. I used to run 3 miles every day, and although my endurance was great, I was living with pain every day. Much later I shifted my focus to weight training, high-intensity interval training, sprinting, etc and I felt better overall.

As for strengthening the lower back, there are a couple exercises I'd suggest. The key thing to remember is to ease your way into this since your back may be suspect. So start very light. In fact, you may want to give your back a rest and wait until it's feeling better before even beginning these.

  1. Stiff legged dead lifts - This exercise is a little simpler to master than the conventional dead lift and focuses primarily on the back and hamstrings.
  2. Hack squats - Hack squats are a little more awkward to get the hang of. But they'll target the legs and the back. And unlike any over the shoulder squat, you don't need a squat rack to do them.

They use a barbell in both of these videos, but they could just as easily be done with dumbbells. There are actually a lot of muscles being worked between these two exercises. Even your shoulders and upper back will get a bit of a workout. They are great lifts to do. But again, start light, and gradually increase weight.

In addition to this, it's always a good idea to work the opposing muscles. So you should be doing situps or crunches as well. In fact, I've found that strengthening the abdominal muscles is just as important as the back muscles to prevent back pain.

share|improve this answer
add comment

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.