A Weak Back is a Painful Back

I hear it all the time, “I hurt my back; I can’t deadlift anymore”, or “I have a bad back, and it really limits me”, or even “I used to be active, but now I can’t because of my back”.  This thinking is the result of outdated information.  Did you know that sitting slumped in a chair puts more pressure on a lumbar disc than a 155# deadlift with good form? No matter what activities we do throughout the day, stress on the low back is inevitable. We combat this with strength because the truth is, a weak back is a painful back.  

Pain in the back occurs when the stress put on the lumbar spine and its surrounding musculature is too much for the muscles to withstand. More often than not, this pain causes an individual to pull back from their activities to avoid aggravating their back further. For example, they stop deadlifting or avoid picking up their kids. The less you use your back, the weaker it gets. The weaker your back gets, the more pain will likely follow. I call this the “Low Back Pain Doom Loop”. If left uninterrupted, it can lead to more and more weakness and pain and less and less function.

So how do we stop the Doom Loop? The best answer is early intervention and loading. Early intervention with a physical therapist will improve pain levels. Next, we strengthen the back. The only way to fix a weak back is to load it. Load creates a physiologic response which creates a stronger muscle and a more resilient low back. Let me be clear, this does not mean everyone should deadlift through pain. That is NOT the answer, but with the help of a physical therapist, a deadlift can be modified and scaled in order to load the back effectively and pain-free. 

If you are stuck in the Doom Loop, reach out to me for help!

Schedule a SISU Physical Therapy appointment with Dr. Erienne: