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.

How to Prevent Weight and Fat Gain when Exercise Decreases or Stops

Exercising consistently is critical for long-term health and fitness, but what happens when you stop exercising. This article explains how to minimize the weight and fat gain or muscle loss that typically accompanies decreases in activity.

     Exercising consistently is well known as one of the best ways to prevent unwanted weight gain, but what do you do if you have to take time off from exercise or your everyday level of activity decreases? When this happens, many people end up gaining weight, but there are some things you can do to prevent or minimize this unwanted weight gain. 

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Tips to Prevent Overeating: General Strategies

Overeating is one of the biggest reasons why people gain weight and have trouble losing fat, so preventing overeating is a key to long-term health and fitness success. This post discusses general tips to help prevent overeating in any situation.

     Overeating is one of the greatest obstacles for people wanting to lose fat, get in shape, and improve their health. Eating too much can make it almost impossible to achieve your health and fitness goals, because any time you consume more calories than you burn, your body will be forced to store more fat. This will happen regardless of how healthy you eat, so it is important to avoid overeating as much as possible.

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Eating Healthy vs. Eating Less Unhealthy

Eating healthy can be a challenge, especially when marketers often try to blur the line between a food being healthy or simply less unhealthy than other options. This post looks at foods that are designed to be healthier versions of other products and explains why they are usually not as good as they initially sound.

     Everyone wants to have a healthy, well functioning body and one of the primary keys to achieving optimal health is healthy eating. However, eating right can be a challenge, especially when so many foods are heavily processed or have added ingredients that are very unhealthy. Another big problem is the way marketers make products sound healthier than they actually are and try to make people content with eating less unhealthy, instead of actually eating healthy.

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Lower Body Posture: Three Simple tips to Improve Muscle and Joint Health

Having good posture is incredibly important for maintaining a healthy and pain free body, but it is often neglected, which causes problems in the future. This post explains three simple tips to improve lower body posture and keep you feeling good for years to come.

     Having good posture is definitely important if you want a healthy and well-functioning body. However, even though people know it is important, people rarely think about posture while performing everyday activities. It is usually not until postural related pain or discomfort occurs that people consciously make an effort to think about their posture. Fortunately, there are some simple things you can start doing today to improve your posture and help prevent muscle and joint problems down the road. This post focuses specifically on tips to improve lower body posture.

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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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Which Organic Foods are Worth the Extra Cost?

Organic foods are continually increasing in popularity, but they can still cost significantly more than regular foods. This post takes a look at different food products to see which ones are worth paying extra to buy organic.

     Organic foods are becoming increasingly more popular and there are a number of reasons why. Organic products are usually more natural, contain fewer unhealthy substances, and they can even have more taste than their non-organic counterparts. Of course, there is a down side to all this, which is that they cost more than regular foods. The price of food is certainly an important consideration, especially in the current economy, so the question many people have is, which organic foods are worth the extra cost?

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Are Organic Foods Better than Non-Organic Foods?

Organic products are becoming more popular all the time, but many people still argue about whether or not organic foods are really better than other foods. This post takes a closer look at the issue by discussing the differences between organic and non-organic foods, as well as the implications for your health.

     Not too long ago, if you wanted to find a decent selection of organic products, you had to go to a specialty health food store. Now you can find organic produce, meats, dairy products and more at almost any grocery store. There is no question that organic foods have increased in popularity in recent years, but many people still have questions about organic products. Perhaps the most common question is, are organic foods really better than non-organic foods?

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Food as Fuel vs. Food as Enjoyment: Implications for Fat Loss

Eating healthy can be a challenge, although this challenge can be made significantly easier or tougher by the way you think about food. This post looks at the two primary approaches towards eating and discusses their implications for fat loss.

     The way you think about food has a significant impact on your nutritional habits and your health. Thinking about food in specific ways can have various effects, such as encouraging improvements in your body or making it almost impossible to lose fat. The two primarily competing attitudes involve thinking of food as either a source of fuel for your body or as a source of enjoyment or comfort. People who treat food as fuel are usually healthier and in better shape than people who view food as a source of enjoyment. In any case, it is ideal if you can find a healthy balance between the two.

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The Eat This, Not That Mentality

The eat this, not that mentality of comparing foods and swapping out one food for another has become very popular, but is it a good way to approach nutrition? This post examines this approach and explains how to get much better results by using other nutritional strategies.

     Chances are you have heard of the “Eat This, Not That!” series of nutrition books. At this point there are at least 7 different books, not including updated versions, and you can frequently see segments on morning TV shows where the viewer is asked to guess which of two foods or meals is lower in fat or calories. Needless to say, the eat this, not that mentality is very popular right now, but is it really a good way to approach nutrition?

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