Our last post, “Activate Those Glutes! Stretch Your Psoas” dated Friday August 12, 2012 talked about how to activate the glutes. An important motivator for using your gluteal muscles (your buttocks) is to avoid lower back injuries. Not using your glutes places too much strain on your lower back. You’ve heard that you should bend your knees when you lift heavy objects. Well that is because bending your knees forces you to squat, activating the glutes and lessening the work load on your back.
But taking a load off your back isn’t the only way to avoid lower back injuries. It is also important to minimize bending. According to Stuart McGill, a well-known back expert from the University of Waterloo, the spine genetically has a set number of times that it can bend before an injury occurs. So save your back – bend less.
Going back to the squat to pick up objects, a correct squat will also keep your back in neutral – no bending. A lunge and a single leg deadlift are two other good moves that do the same.
Think about how you put on your shoes, is your spine bending? Probably. Instead lunge with a foot propped up on a step and save your back. Are you bending over when brushing your teeth? Again lunge, put a foot up on a stool and save your back.
The single leg deadlift, where you balance on one leg with the other leg extending out behind you, also prevents your back from bending. This move is advanced so practice first, you’ll need to work on strength and balance. Once a pro use it in your golf game to pick up your ball, or around the house to pick up dropped items.
Finally – don’t slouch in front of your computer! This is likely where we bend our backs the most. Move your bum to the back of your chair and sit up straight. Your back will thank you.