How To Prevent Back Injuries Over 50
A Little History About Me
My Name is Kyle Mahadeo, and I am one of the co-owners of Vagus Fitness. I have been running Vagus since 2008 and am very passionate about improving peoples health and wellness. My background comes from the medical and rehabilitation fields, as prior to Vagus Fitness I was a kinesiologist working alongside Canada's best orthopaedic surgeons.
Today I would like to share some of my learning and knowledge on how to prevent back pain and share with you some of the tips and tricks I learnt from spine surgeons, doctors, physiotherapists, and everything else in between.
If you don't believe me, you can check out this video I created with Dr. Hu discussing spinal injury prevention.
What is your Core?
When there is a mention of core training, most of us automatically think of sit-ups, crunches and 6-packs. The truth is that the rectus abdominis (6 pack) is only a small portion of the core. It actually also contains the obliques, back muscles both large and small, gluteus, and other deep internal muscles.
When training your core, it is important not to only focus on strength but to also focus on stabilization, posture and creating balance between muscle groups.
How do back injuries occur?
1) Trauma- These injures come from actions or situation in a persons environment such as a car accident or a fall. Also can be caused from repetitive stress from workplace.
2) Imbalances- Muscle imbalances can cause improper gait and movements causing continual stress on the spine and can lead to injury.
3) Poor Strength- When the core muscles are not strong enough, the body relies on the bones, joints and ligaments during activity, which in turn can cause injury.
4) Genetics- These are abnormalities of the spine caused at birth. These can be things like mis-formed vertebrate or improper spinal alignments such as a stenosis.
How to prevent back injuries...
No matter the cause of your back pain, and outside of all the other medical and rehabilitation professionals you may see, a well planned strength and mobility program can have a huge impact on pain management, and ultimately rehabilitation.
The issue in the fitness industry is the education and skill level of personal trainers can be very diverse, making it hard for other medical professionals to refer clients. The problem here lies that if people are not strengthening and conditioning their body in a safe and controlled manner, the only way to manage your back pain is through surgeries, medication and luck.
Rehabilitation and medical professionals can help to get you going, but once cleared for activity, it is your responsibility to keep your spine as healthy as possible and the best thing to do is to team up with a personal trainer and get an exercise program.
I have helped rehabilitate hundreds of spines, and I find that an exercise program works the best by following the process below:
Phase 1: Build a base - 2-6 weeks in length
If you have just been cleared to exercise, or are just beginning an exercise program it is important to build a base. This consists of learning to activate deep muscles such as your back muscles, shoulder stabilizers, abdominals, pelvic floor and diaphragm. Most of the exercises you perform should maintain a neutral spine and the main focus should be posture.
Phase 2: Mobility, Balance, and Stability - 2-6 weeks in length
The next thing that you should be focusing on is creating safe and effective movement patterns (squats, hip hinges, pushes, pulls) using body weight or a light load. Also working in unilateral movements to create balance between the left and right side of your body. Finally, focusing and activating the stabilization muscles and teaching them how to work effectively.
Phase 3: General Conditioning - 6-12+ weeks in length
Once you have created safe and effective movement patterns and are able to perform all the exercises safely, your next focus should be trying to get your body as strong as possible within your limitations. Creating a very structured program and increasing your bodies strength and mobility will get you to your goals the fastest.
How To Get Started...
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