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Warm-up Protocols and Back Pain

I was chatting with a fellow lifter this week about common pain lifters encounter. Back pain is one most lifters (and every couch potato) experiences at some point. Barring an actual injury, there are a couple go-tos I use to alleviate lower back pain:

  • Foam rolling the glutes, paying particular attention to the gluteus medius: Tight glutes have a tendency to yank on the hip creating tension that causes lower back pain; loosening them up can give a bit of temporary relief.
  • Chiropractic treatment: It’s not uncommon for the hips to shift out of alignment giving the abuse we subject our bodies to under the bar. This forces the musculature to tighten up as it tries to stabilize hips resulting in lower back pain.

I mentioned to my buddy that I typically just use these measures as needed, when the pain flares up, but that I hadn’t really used them since…I changed my warmup protocols. 

Wait…what?

Proper warmups and prehab measures can, prevent pain?

Go figure.

Two protocols in particular have made a significant impact on pain and preparedness for me:

  • Banded Side Walks: I’ve added this to the warmup protocol for any lower body training session. Strengthening the gluteus medius has made a tremendous impact in my stability and has improved hip/knee/foot alignment while squatting.

  • Bulgarian Split Squats: I do a handful of short sets, usually 3×5, bodyweight split squats. At the bottom of the squat I pause and stretch, pushing the rear leg as deep into the movement as possible, feeling a stretch in the quad around the knee and in the glutes. This movement helps build hip mobility and it also stretches the quads which drastically reduces knee pain.

The increases in mobility and stability created by adding these two lifts to my warmups have profoundly decreased lower back and hip pain, and increased lifting readiness.



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