If I had a dollar for every time someone told me that their lower back is tight or their lower back aches I would be a rich man.
Actually, if I had a dollar for every time this had happened to me during my first 6 years of CrossFit, I’d probably be rich enough I wouldn’t need any money from the times I heard others say the same thing.
Before I go any further, I want to stress that I am not a doctor and this isn’t going to be a medical prescription and some of you may actually need to go see a doctor about your back pain.
However, it has been my observation through years of personal experience and helping our clients that often times tight hips/glutes, overactive glute-medius’ and a poor warm up of the glutes & lower back are often the causes of most lower back pain.
So, after some extensive work to figure out the exact problem and then find a way to fix it in myself, I have developed a set warm-up & mobility protocol that I perform daily and if you’re a person that consistently has lower back tightness during or after your workouts I think you should be doing the same.
This warm-up and mobility protocol helps, loosen up and activate all the parts that might cause trouble during a workout that involves lifting anything off the floor, squatting, running, jumping, burpeeing, KB swinging, or anything else that involves the glutes.
First things first, I ride the Airdyne for 5 minutes. Rowing or jogging like we usually have the class do (2-3 minutes) is fine here too.
Then, I do some dynamic warm-up pieces, just like the class. My list includes the following:
Up & Back (about 60 feet) Walking High Kicks
Up & Back (60 feet) Monster Walk w/ band (http://youtu.be/qXD6CFKnDy8)
Up & Back (60 feet) Frog Jump
10 per leg reverse leg raises (http://youtu.be/SSZh8SL_cNg, please disregard this ridiculous chick doing the demo)
10 hip extensions (http://youtu.be/-FRYZjXMHkA)
Supermans are ok substitute
10 GHD Sit Ups (http://youtu.be/pMS2dU0FuPk)
Standard sit ups are ok substitute
If the warm-up we do in the class that day is missing some of these, feel free to do them during our “skill” time or to substitute for other movements in the warm-up.
After the dynamic pieces I like to do a little mobility. My list here includes the following:
1 min per side – Roll upper glute w/ supernova or softball or lacrosse ball in figure 4 position (same as photo of guy foam rolling, except with a ball instead)
1 min per side – Couch Stretch (http://crogacrossfit.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/09/goalstretch.jpg)
1 min per side – Pigeon Pose (http://crogacrossfit.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/09/sport-yoga-pigeon-pose1.jpg)
Once again, the “skill” time is a good time to do this mobility. I know you might want/need to practice the skill, but in my opinion you being able to complete the workout without pain is a lot more important than getting a couple minutes of toes-to-bar in, just saying…
Now that I have completed all of these warm-up exercises and mobility pieces I am almost always fully warmed up (sweating) and loosened up and rarely feel anything in my lower back during, after, or the next day.
If I skip this work though I will almost always pay the price with tightness in my lower back, which causes decreased performance and I immediately regret skipping my standard warm up.
So, moral of the story here, do the work to warm up, loosen up, and strengthen your lower back on a regular basis and it will no longer be a crutch. Ignore my advice and you will not be happy that you did.
We all spend so much time sitting in chairs and not using our glutes and hips properly it’s inevitable that we get “bound up”.
It’s not your fault, but now that you’re an athlete, you need to start paying more attention to it and looking for the solution.
I hope this helps all of you and if you have any questions, feel free to ask away online or in class.