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Old 06-29-2004, 09:39 PM   #1
Richard Miller
 
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I've been doing WOD's for almost a month now and have experienced a lot of pain in my lower back. I am extremely sway-back--I think that's what it's called. When I stand up straight my back is the shape of a bow. I know for lifting I need to wear a brace, but I did squats yesterday and killed my back. I completed the WOD, but wondered if this was safe? Also, I thought it may have to do with my lack of strong abs, but many exercises are uncomfortable regardless. Does anyone have suggestions or information regarding this?
Felicia
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Old 06-30-2004, 06:43 AM   #2
Robert Wolf
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Richard-

What you are describing sounds like hyperlordosis...an over accentuated curve of the lumbar vertebrae. Abdominal strength and flexibility of the hamstrings and hip flexors can be contributing factors.

Rehab for this condition involves learning how to achieve and then maintain an neutral pelvic tilt. This will take some time but it will greatly reduce your pain and add years to your back. If you can get a prescription for physical therapy or if you know a PT who can get you started I think that would be a good idea.

All the movements CrossFit pulls from are exceptionally safe when performed with the correct biomechanics. Many can cause great harm if approached incorectly.

Please do seek some assistance with these structural issues. In the mean time approach the WOD with a bit of caution and be reasonable in your exercise selection.

Brian Hand is very knowledgable in this area...any ideas Brian?

Keep us posted on your progress.
Robb
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Old 06-30-2004, 07:52 AM   #3
Matt Toupalik
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Felicia-Good points by Robert.If you do a lot of sitting during the day, this could be one of the causes of your pain.When sitting for long periods of time, the muscles of the hamstrings and hips can become shortened and tight.Inflexibility in these areas, as Robert has noted, can cause low back pain.Make sure to include some flexibility exercises which target the hips and hamstrings at the end of each workout.

In regard to actual exercises, I have found that LIGHT good mornings are great for hamstring flexibility and overhead squats for the hips.

Also, If you do sit a lot, try to make a mental note to stand up for 5 minutes or so every hour on the hour if your schedule allows.Remain standing the entire time.Use the restroom, make a trip to the water cooler, whatever.Just make sure you take a break from the seated position.If you are out of site of colleagues, a few reps of deep squats will allow you to "stretch out" a bit.

In addition, a lot of people tend to slouch a bit when seated for long periods of time.Try to stay conscious of your posture while seated at work.You may find yourself correcting your posture throughout the day.
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Old 06-30-2004, 09:26 AM   #4
Beth Moscov
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Hi,

I have this same issue. I have had it since a kid so have learned to deal with it. The above suggestions are good. One thing that I think has made it worse for me as an adult is the idea in fitness that we should isolate muscles. It has led to me have stronger abs than back and stronger hamstrings than glutes. This has caused odd pulls on the whole structure of my hips and low back and caused pain. I think the crossfit idea of functional training is awesome for strengthing all of these muscles together and in balance. Just do less and watch form. Squats in particular are easy to arch your back even if you don't have a sway back. I focus almost a hundred percent on maintaining the right amount of curve in that part of my back when doing squats. I have healed my back quite a bit through squats and deadlifts. Also stretch. And don't forget the hip flexors. The yoga pose call pigeon pose is awesome for this whole area. Here is a link to the advanced version of this pose: http://www.yogajournal.com/poses/863_1.cfm
To get there, you can modify it. Start with one leg back and the other leg bent in front of you like in the photo. You can rest your body down on the floor in front of you or sit up a bit. Take your time and do this when really warm. It will stretch all the muscles in the glutes including the deeper ones, the legs, and the hip flexors. As you sit up more you will put more stretch into the psoas and stomach as well.

Beth
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Old 06-30-2004, 03:15 PM   #5
Brian Hand
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Richard, Robb's advice is very sound, and thanks Robb for the kind words. You do want to proceed with caution. Rule number one: if it hurts, don't do it! By "hurts" I mean the hurt of injury, not the hurt of fatigue. If you aren't sure which is which, err towards caution. You might have to spend some time doing remedial work before you're able to do full squats, deadlifts, and olympic lifts safely.

I would consider having a GOOD chiropractor look at an xray. This will help clarify to what extent the condition is structural - that is, if the shape of your vertebrae has a lot of curve. In most cases it isn't structural, it's weak abs, tight hip flexors, and tight lower back and hamstrings, and maybe belly fat. Either way stretching whats tight and strengthening what's weak will help you out tremendously. It is worth repeating that proper form is extremely important!

Some exercises you might consider:

Lunges - try for nice deep strides, streches hip extensors and hamstrings on the leading leg side, stretches hip flexors on the trailing leg side, makes imbalances easy to spot. Especially good - overhead lunges with the broomstick, because you have to stay nice and upright.

Reverse back extention on the swiss ball - put the ball on the end of a bench, lay prone (face down) on the ball, hold the bench with your hands, and lift and lower your legs. Gets the blood flowing in the lower back with protective support. Just stretching face down with the ball on the floor will robably feel good too.

Regular back extentions are good too, and with a flat back give a good hamstring stretch.

Hanging knee up - hanging from the chin bar, this gives the spine a little gentle traction and strengthens the abs and hip flexors.

Front Squat - when you're ready, front squats really strengthen the inner abdominal muscles that support the spine, and allow a more upright position with less torque on the lower back.

Also check out

http://www.t-nation.com/readTopic.do?id=460368

for more information on the abdominal muscles that support the spine, and reconsider using a belt.
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Old 06-30-2004, 04:34 PM   #6
Richard Miller
 
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Thanks for all your great advice and suggestions. I actually don't sit at all during the day. I am a server in a restaurant and am on my feet and carrying lots of heavy plates from 11 to 6 everyday.
--Felicia
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Old 07-01-2004, 04:32 AM   #7
Cross Bones
 
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this is totally irrelevant, but I find it amusing that with the exception of Matt(and prolly Beth), everyone else didn't catch the fact that the orignal poster is called Felicia :lol:
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Old 07-01-2004, 07:10 AM   #8
Barry Cooper
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Just being on your feet all day will make your back hurt.

I have tendencies to the same problem. The best single exercise, in my opinion, is the Hollow Rock. Look under exercises.

Another good one is to lay down with your feet on the floor, with knees bent, and consciously exhale, and roll your pelvis so your ENTIRE lower back is in continuous contact with the floor. Hold this for 5-10 breaths, and repeat if you want. There is a whole series of exercises based on this movement somewhere on the Internet. I've lost my bookmark and don't have time to look now.

This is also a basic element of the Pilates system, which I think is much more clever than people realize. If you want to take lessons of some sort, that is where I would start, as the whole thing is based on strengthening and stretching your body to achieve a neutral pelvis. It was a secret of dancers for the last 60-80 years, and I don't think they have any postural problems.

Last random thought: part of the problem with being on your feet is not muscular strength, but endurance. Also, if your hamstrings are tight, they are trying to rotate your back all day long.
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Old 07-01-2004, 07:15 AM   #9
Brian Hand
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Barry, I agree about the hollow rocks, holding the hollow position develops those inner muscles. However I don't think many people can start out with hollow rocks. I think the second movement you describe and others like it are in the linked article.
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Old 07-01-2004, 09:28 AM   #10
Barry Cooper
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Brian,

It doesn't look like that exact exercise is in there, but the one on all fours seems designed to accomplish something like that. Bottom line activating your deep stomach muscles.

I feel in my case my tight hip flexors are an issue as well. I do a lot of hanging leg raises (to the bar). I love to superset those with squats and deadlifts, but they seem to keep me tight.

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