Have Low Back Pain? This Could be Why 

Low back pain is so prevalent now, that people often assume they are going to have pain as they get older. Some back pain is due to age or more accurately, due to unhealthy things we did to our body when we were younger, but some is not. While we can’t go back in time to adopt healthier habits, there are things we can do at any age to improve our low back health and decrease pain.

There are many variables that affect low back pain, but I want to focus on one that many people don’t talk about or know about. It used to be that when people had back pain, they were often told to strengthen their back muscles. The problem with this was that most of the time the back muscles were already strong enough relative to other muscles, but they were overworked and needed more rest. Naturally, training them more to strengthen them was often counterproductive, especially if it was the only intervention.

Eventually people realized that the bigger problem was that the abdominal muscles were not working enough and the low back was picking up the slack from ab muscles that weren’t doing their job correctly. This leads to overuse of the low back muscles and pain. Other things cause low back pain too, such as poor posture/alignment, movement mechanics, etc. For now, I’m focusing on muscle function.

While this is definitely an improved approach to low back rehab and helps decrease low back pain, it still missing a major piece of the puzzle. There are many people whose abs and low back muscles are strong enough to properly do the work they need to do, yet these people still experience pain. The problem is that muscles develop bad habits over time and just because a muscle is strong enough, it doesn’t mean your body will utilize it correctly.

There is a neurological component to muscular activation that people are rarely taught and it’s usually the difference between developing a functional body and simply training muscles, often creating dysfunction in the process. Most muscle activation is subconscious and while we can consciously alter the muscles we use to some degree, we are rarely taught to do so. Once we develop a pattern of muscle activation, we follow it no matter what, unless there is some intervention (injury, retraining, etc.). Unfortunately, many of the healthy neurological patterns we had when we were children disappear as we age.

A great example of this is breathing, which primarily involves subconscious muscle activation. Many adults pull in their belly when they take a deep breath in, yet we should be expanding our belly when we breathe in to allow space for the air to go. For whatever reasons, our breathing pattern can completely change and we continue breathing that way until we retrain our bodies to breathe in a healthier way.

Over the years, I’ve had a few people actually tell me it’s impossible to breathe in and have their belly go out at the same time (because it was so challenging for them to do). The simple response to this is to look at any baby. They naturally breathe the way we are all supposed to and they have no training whatsoever.

The longer we use an incorrect neuromuscular recruitment pattern, the longer it takes to replace it with a healthier one, but it absolutely can be done, We just have to make our subconscious muscle activation a conscious activity. After we perform the correct pattern many times, assuming we are consistent with it, it will become our default again and we won’t have to think about it so much.

When it comes to low back pain, people frequently have to retrain their core musculature and teach their bodies how to effectively use all four of their abdominal muscles synergistically with their low back muscles. When each muscle does the work it’s supposed to do, the chance of experiencing overworked muscles goes way down and back pain almost always goes away or at least decreases significantly. 

The end result is you will have much more function and be able to engage in activities you may not have been able to perform for years. The decrease or elimination of chronic pain also creates a huge benefit in everyday quality of life. Doing this type of training is well worth the effort it takes to retrain your body to develop healthier movement and muscle activation patterns. These are changes that will improve the rest of your life.

New Content Update

After taking a number of years off from my blog to help raise my two kids, I am finally back to creating new content. I have written a couple articles and also made five new videos, revived my newsletter, and created a health and fitness Facebook page.

For now my new articles have only been sent to my newsletter subscribers, but I will probably post them eventually. If you would like to be added to my newsletter, please let me know. Just send me an email at ross@precisionhealth-fitness.com and I will get you added to my newsletter list.

For now, two of my videos can be seen on my website home page at www.precisionhealth-fitness.com/ and the exercise videos can be seen at www.precisionhealth-fitness.com/exercise-videos.html.

All the videos are also posted on my new Precision Health & Fitness Facebook page.

There will be much more to come in the future, but for now, please let me know if there are any topics you want me to cover in the near future. Also, I encourage everyone to visit my Facebook page and post your thoughts about anything related to health or fitness. Feedback/advice is always appreciated as well. My intent is to create an interactive community to discuss issues related to exercise, nutrition, psychology, and anything else that will help people reach their goals.

Learning Proper Exercise Technique: The Problem with Familiar Movements

It takes effort to develop good exercise technique and one reason is because the human body likes to replicate familiar movements. This article discusses why this is a problem and gives advice on how to improve your form while exercising.

     Performing exercises with proper technique is difficult. Any qualified fitness professional can walk into virtually any gym in the country and point out significant form flaws in the vast majority of exercisers, regardless if they are beginners or have been working out for years. Surprisingly, the biggest roadblocks to proper technique often have to do with your body’s natural habits.

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Balance and Stability: Functions and Misconceptions

The way the human body feels and functions is determined by numerous factors, including nutrition, flexibility, strength, and endurance. While these are often addressed in health and fitness programs, balance and stability are two issues that rarely get enough attention. This post explains why balance and stability are important and provides examples of how they impact everyday activities.

     Balance and stability are two of the attributes that determine your overall level of fitness, but they are rarely given the attention they deserve in a typical training program. One reason is because most people do not appreciate their importance, at least not until they get older and their health and fitness naturally starts to decline. Another problem is the concepts and functions of balance and stability are often misunderstood and training to improve those attributes is rarely explained or even discussed by most media sources. As a result, balance and stability often go unaddressed, which can cause problems later in life.

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The Best Aerobic Exercise for Calorie Burning and Fat Loss

Companies are constantly promoting aerobic exercise machines that are supposed to be more effective for calorie burning and fat loss than other equipment, but these claims are more marketing hype than science fact. This post looks at how different equipment affects your results and explains what is really important for calorie burning and fat loss.

     There constantly seem to be new commercials or infomercials selling aerobic exercise equipment to help you burn calories and lose fat. Many of these advertisements make a point of mentioning how their product gets you to burn calories at a faster rate than if you perform other types of exercise or use a different piece of equipment. With so many companies making statements about their equipment being the best for burning calories, it raises the questions, are these statements accurate and which form of aerobic exercise really is best for fat loss?

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Burning Extra Calories does not Always Translate into Fat Loss

Losing fat is one of the biggest struggles in health and fitness and people often try to make it sound easy by saying things like, “Just increase your activity by 500 calories a day and you will lose 1 pound per week.” Unfortunately, fat loss is not that simple and this post explains the factors you need to take into account in order to lose fat and keep it off.

     It can be a challenge to lose weight and especially fat, which is why so many people struggle to get rid of their unwanted pounds. So many people have problems with their weight that various media sources are constantly providing “helpful” suggestions. This is great, except much of this information is dumbed down or oversimplified to the point where the information becomes misleading or even incorrect. One issue that is frequently misrepresented is the relationship between calorie burning and fat loss. People are constantly saying that if you burn an additional X calories per day, then you will lose X amount of weight over the course of a week, month, or year. Unfortunately, things are not quite that simple.

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Bodyweight Exercises: Misconceptions and Mistakes

Bodyweight exercises are incredibly popular, because most of them require no equipment and can be performed almost anywhere. As a result, they are often used by beginning exercisers, but they are more complicated than they might first appear. This post examines the misconceptions and mistakes people make with bodyweight training and provides tips to help get the most out of your training routine.

     Bodyweight training has been a popular form of exercise for decades, especially when it comes to group exercise classes and workout videos. It can certainly be an effective form of exercise, but bodyweight training programs are often designed without really considering the many different types of people who perform the workouts. Bodyweight exercises are typically assumed to be appropriate for everyone, but that is not exactly true.

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Using Easy Aerobic Exercise to Stimulate Fat Loss

It seems as though almost everyone is trying to lose fat and many people try to accomplish this using easy aerobic exercise. Unfortunately, this approach is often unsuccessful, but this post explains how to use easy aerobic exercise in a way that effectively stimulates fat loss.

     Fat loss is unquestionably one of the most popular topics in health and fitness, as people constantly seem to be looking for that special workout, diet, pill, or piece of exercise equipment to give them the body of their dreams. I have written numerous articles about the importance of performing challenging workouts if you want to lose fat and improve your fitness level, but as with most things in health and fitness, there is more than one way to accomplish fat loss. This post explains how easy aerobic workouts can help stimulate fat loss.

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Muscular Efficiency, Calorie Burning, and Fat Loss

Many factors contribute to the success or failure of an exercise program and one of the commonly overlooked factors is muscular efficiency. This post discusses how muscular efficiency affects your results and explains how you should exercise to maximize your results.

     Efficiency is generally considered a good thing, but when it comes to fitness, it can actually be a problem. Specifically, the issue is with muscular efficiency, because increased muscular efficiency results in fewer calories being burned during workouts, which ultimately means less fat loss. Muscular efficiency can have a significant effect on the ability to lose fat, but many people are not familiar with this concept, so they don’t create their workouts to minimize the negative effects. Therefore, this post will briefly describe muscular efficiency and explain how it affects your results.

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Functional Training: What it Really Means

Chances are you have heard the term functional training, but there is also a good chance you have not been given a good explanation of what it really is. This is because there is a lot of confusion about functional training, both in the fitness community and the media. This post explains the real meaning of functional training and discusses why it is important to you.

     Functional training has become a very popular over the last decade, but there is still a lot of confusion about what functional training actually is. As is often the case in health and fitness, once a topic becomes popular, such as with functional training, marketers jump on the bandwagon and start using the term to promote as many products or exercises as possible. This results in many exercises being labeled as functional when the term does not really apply, which naturally just leads to confusion and questions about which exercises should be considered functional and why.

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