Workout Tips

Nip Low Back Pain in the Bud

Victor R. Prisk, M.D., on what might be giving you lower-back pain.


High Volume, Great Results Workout Program

Question: I have low-back pain. Do you have any suggestions for rehab and prevention that I can do on my own? —Tim G., Boston, MA

Answer: As an orthopedic surgeon, I know that back pain is a pain in the butt. Literally, pain in the gluteal region is often referred from the back rather than the hip as some would otherwise expect. Back pain is becoming increasingly more common and may derive mostly from lack of fitness or bad habits. It can also be from arthritis, muscle strains, nerve impingement, and disk degeneration.

If you have persistent pain, especially with nerve symptoms (numbness, tingling, burning, or weakness of an extremity) or systemic symptoms (fevers, chills, weight loss, bowel or bladder problems) you need to see your physician ASAP. To nip low-back pain in the bud (not butt), you should take the following recommendations into consideration:

1. Lose Your Gut:  Even if you’re an active lifter, carrying extra fat on your frame takes a toll. Maintaining a healthy body weight through regular exercise can help.

2. Posture: Are you a sloucher? Concentrate on keeping your torso upright and your midsection firm when sitting, standing, and walking. It’s a small adjustment that could save you a lot of pain.

3. Stretch: Your lower-back pain might be a result of tight muscles. Restricted hamstrings, hip flexors, and quads put excessive stress on the back. Spend time stretching after your workouts

4. Core: The muscles around your abs and lower back support the spine. Do more exercises like planks, crunches, and back extensions, which all engage the core.

About the Doctor: Victor R. Prisk, M.D., is a board-certified and fellow- ship-trained orthopedic surgeon, NCAA All-America gymnast, IFBB professional bodybuilder, and GNC medical advisory board member.