If you experience stiffness and tightness in your lower back on a regular basis, for no apparent reason – adopting a simple habit could help ease that by improving your lower back and core strength:
Whenever you walk, focus on your ab and glut muscles and keep them strong. You don’t have to put a lot of energy into this and constantly flex your behind and abdominal areas while you go about your business; the key is to consciously use your glueteal and abdominal muscles whenever you stand, walk, jog, and run.
If you do this correctly, your gait will feel strong and purposeful, and you should be more aware of the muscles that surround your hip and lower back areas.
What makes this habit helpful for people who experience chronic, intermittent lower back pain? It lightens the load on your joints. Your ligaments wrap tightly against the joints in your pelvis and lower back and your muscles are right over them. The main purpose of the ligaments is to keep your joints stable, preventing dislocations and keeping your muscles strong eases the tension on the ligaments.
Over time, the muscles and ligaments that surround your lower back and pelvic regions can become weak. As your muscles become weak, your ligaments have to work even harder to keep your joints stable. Since muscles and ligaments tend to get weak together, your ligaments under extra stress can become injured, typically producing intermittent joint problems. Injury leads to pain and inflammation, which leads to less physical activity, which produces further weakening of the muscles and ligaments. See how that works?
Injured ligaments can heal and strengthen over time, but in some cases, the involved joints may never fully recover.
So, if you’ve recently started your program and you’re having a hard time with lower back pain, don’t let it stop you. Training your muscles to be active and strong while you go about your daily activities can be an extremely effective way of strengthening your lower back and core – and help you bring it harder, sooner. Your muscles have much greater capacity to be strengthened and reconditioned than your ligaments do, so by consciously using your abdominal and gluteal muscles every time you stand, walk, jog, or run, you provide significant support to your lower back and pelvic regions and keep your joints happy.
When it comes to bending your trunk forward and backward, your abdominal and lower back muscles perform opposite actions; your abdominal muscles flex (curl forward) your trunk, while your lower back muscles extend (bend back) your trunk. Your nervous system is designed to allow both your abs and lower back muscles to perform with the least amount of opposing strain. This nervous system mechanism is called reciprocal inhibition.
When you keep your abs strong while you walk, your nervous system tells the muscles of your lower back to relax to some degree. And when you keep your gluts strong as you walk, your hip flexors receive a steady signal from your nervous system to relax and lengthen.
Having strong abs, strong gluts, and relaxed and lengthened lower back muscles and hip flexors are the four main requirements for a strong and healthy lower back and core.
So, there you have it. Just be conscious of your ab and glut muscles when you’re moving around, going about your business and you’ll strengthen your lower back and core, which will help you feel better, fight aches and pains, and be able to bring even harder. Simple. Try it.