THE INFAMOUS LOW BACK
By guest blogger Guillermo Contreras
One of the most common areas we see individuals report injuring, and we’d argue any physical therapist or CrossFit coach/trainer, is the low back!
In fact, most research shows that throughout a lifetime, the prevalence of non-specific low back pain is estimated at 60%-70%. That means if you take a look around your own CrossFit box, 60-70% of your fit fam will experience low back pain during their lifetime. A study in 2012 showed that in the United States alone, there were approximately 2 million incidents of low back pain in one year!
Why do we share that? Because we want to make sure that you know that, well…”stuff” happens and sometimes you get hurt. But! We want to make sure you know that there are people out there make it their goal to help you get better, reduce your pain, move better, perform better and ultimately help make you a stronger more resilient athlete.
That’s where CrossPhysio comes in! If you CrossFit long enough, chances are high you may feel the occasional ache and pain. Unfortunately, you may also experience an injury. The following exercises are three of our favorite exercises to help you get back following a back injury and reduce the risk of injury from occurring.
**Let us start by quickly mentioning that these exercises are not a fix-all strategies. Pain and injuries are complex and we do not claim that these alone will help with all that you may be dealing with currently. If you are injured, please seek the advice and guidance of a rehab professional if you are concerned with the extent of an injury or your pain**
The bird dog is one of our favorites for a variety of reasons. It can be performed easily with no equipment. It teaches proper positioning and stabilization of the spine with both arm and leg movement. And it is so much more than just a “back exercise”.
The Bird Dog incorporates spinal stability, scapular stability, rotary stability, glute activation and abdominal/core activation. It’s a full body exercise designed to get you moving well and improve your body awareness. Not to mention, there are A TON of variations that can be performed to make these harder depending on where you are in your progress following an injury.
Who knows…maybe we’ll post about those some day too!
CrossFit heavily impresses upon the concept of “core-to-extremity movement”. If you’ve never heard that before, simply put, it’s means starting any movement by fully engaging the muscles in your “core” – ie. the glutes, hips, lats, abdominal musculature – before transferring forces outward to the arms and legs – Or, as Kelly Starret of MobilityWOD puts it: “getting organized prior to performing any movement.”
We love it because, just like anything in CrossFit, it is scalable for wherever you are in your rehab or fitness journey. Whether first learning to stabilize your midline, progressively increasing tolerance to loading the midline after an injury, or just looking to challenge yourself and work up a great sweat – and believe us, you definitely can – this one is money in the bank.
That’s right. Farmer’s carry. Probably one of the simplest exercises you can think of, yet, oh so wonderful, difficult and complex when you need it to be!
If you practice these and its variations frequently, you’ll be blown away by the benefits it will have for your ability to lift heavier loads and carry those groceries into your home in one trip (and let’s be honest…that’s really the reason we all CrossFit).
Grip strength, increased pulling strength, improved work capacity, develop athleticism, overall gainz and – the biggest reasons we think these are pivotal for low back rehab and in building up your resiliency to injury – postural strength/control and enhanced core stabilization/bracing.
About Dr. Guillermo Contreras, PT, DPT, CF-L1, Cert-CMFA
Doctor of Physical Therapy, CrossFit Level 1 Trainer, Certification in Clinical Management of the Fitness Athlete, Certified HawkGrips Practitioner, Functional Movement Techniques Certified
Dr. Contreras has been immersed in the rehab and performance world for over 10 years. Weightlifting for sports, aesthetics and strength since the age of 14, the affinity for strength and performance has always driven his passion for resistance training, movement and mobility. Those passions drive the way he designs his rehab programs and trains and coaches all clients. Whether for sport or life, the principles of safe efficient movement and strength can be applied to all individuals seeking to lead a healthy active lifestyle. He draws not only upon his own experiences, but also years of geeking out on written articles, watching seminars, countless youtube videos and unending Instagram posts filled with knowledge and expertise from professionals in the rehab and fitness community he respects and values for their work.
Graduating from Marquette University with a Bachelors of Science in Exercises Physiology, University of Wisconsin-Madison as a Doctor of Physical Therapy, and a CrossFit Level 1 trainer, he possesses a wealth of knowledge and firm educational foundation to work with all individuals seeking to improve their movement and strength, decrease pain, or lead a healthier lifestyle. He is passionate about strength training, sports performance, mobility and most of all, CrossFit!
We’ve added these exercises into a Home Exercise Program (HEP) using the PT-Helper CONNECT platform and presented on the PT-Helper mobile app. These sample exercises can be quickly downloaded into the PT-Helper mobile app using
HEP code: A7B54B9
You can also find these exercises in the Lower Back category in the PT-Helper mobile app to add to your Favorites which allows you to customize each exercise’s repetitions, sets, and hold time.
Reminder: Please consult your physician or physical therapist before engaging in any physical activity and stop if you experience pain or discomfort.
Download the PT-Helper mobile app for patients and exercise enthusiasts to create your exercise program.