Don't Bust Your Back For Your Beach Bod!

Baby Got Back!

Summer is just around the corner, which means a lot of us aren't only busting our butts during workouts, but we could also be busting our back too! Back health is often overlooked, but it's important to remember improper form when exercising can cause major damage to our spine. I should also add that even outside of the gym or workouts, the way you pick up your groceries, diaper bag or child's car seat can wreck havoc on your back.

A Neutral Spine is Best.

Always consider the shape of your spine and remember that a neutral spine with minimize injury. To determine your neutral spine position (considering the three natural curves in your neck, upper back and lower back) stand with your back against a wall, making sure that your head, upper back and tailbone are touching the surface. In this position, you should be able to place your fingers between the wall and your lower back while the three contact points are still in contact with the wall. This is your neutral spine position.

3 Common Exercises That Cause Lower Back Pain

Squats: This is one of my favourite exercises and known to be the best glute-building move in the business. BUT make sure that when you perform the squat, you avoid rounding your lower back by keeping your chest up, bending your knees and reaching back with your glutes as if you were taking a seat. Doing so will preserve your spine’s natural curve. 

Deadlifts: This is not only another great lower body move, but it's actually one of the best exercise build a strong back. Be sure to perform the deadlift with your lower back neutral and the bar held close to you. Always hinge at the hips and not at the knees

Kettlebell Swings: This is a highly recommended move especially for moms who can't often get to the gym; investing in a kettlebell and doing swings at home makes for one heck of a sweat! They’re also awesome for learning the proper technique for hip hinging! To minimize injury to your back when performing kettlebell swings, maintain a neutral spine and only swing the kettlebell as far up as shoulder level. Bringing it any higher would mean losing that neutral spine.

Pictured here with Dr. Aliya, Chiropractor at Toronto Yoga Mamas.

Pictured here with Dr. Aliya, Chiropractor at Toronto Yoga Mamas.

BACK to Basics

As I mentioned, maintaining back health goes beyond your workouts! Plus, lower back pain is oh-so-common in motherhood! I also speak from experience as I suffered lower back pain after having my daughter and have my chiropractor to thank for helping me recognize ways to improve even some daily activities that were the culprit to poor back health. I want to make sure I share these quick reminders with you too:

Mind Your Posture - stand up and sit up straight with a neutral spine. That is all. 

Lighten Your Load - listen, no one ever wants to make two trips back to the car for groceries, but you will save yourself extra suffering on your back. Make the extra trip.

Stretch it Out - incorporate stretching into your day because keeping flexible helps maintain normal joint function and a good range of motion. It also reduces the risk of injury.

Lift With Your Legs - instead of using your upper body or back to lift an item, use your legs. It will also help if you bend your knees so your arms are at the same height as the item. Remember this when you are going to lift that heavy baby car seat.

Strengthen Your Core - Simply put, exercise and build strong core stability; this can do wonders for your back health. Period.

Pay Attention to the Signs - don't ignore back pain because if left untreated, these problems can worsen over time and become quite serious. Check in with your chiropractor to learn more about keeping your bones, muscles, joints and central nervous system healthy. Visit www.chiropractic.on.ca for more info or to find a local chiropractor near you.

Watch this video to learn easy stretches you can do at home to help protect your back and body when exercising.