On lower back injuries

I’m only going to speak to MY current lower back injury here.

I think I figured out what went wrong and how I injured myself. The first clue came from watching this video about protecting your spine. I stumbled across it as part of a response about ‘Best alternatives to sit ups/crunches?’. Prior to my back injury, I’d been working my way through the 200 sit ups program, and was doing quite well, or so I thought. If I had not injured my back, I probably would have been at 200 sometime this past week. Well, if you watch that video you’ll see, and I’ll tell you, that doing crunches/sit ups isn’t good for your lower back. You end up straining and injuring a section of your spine in your lower back. And based on how my body tends toward my left side when I do large numbers of crunches, it’s no wonder I hurt the left side of my lower back.

This post offers a bit more information, in much more depth, about the rectus abdominis (aka the abs). The first thing I pick up from this piece is that while my rectus abdominis is great at trunk flexion (think things like crunches), I’m not nearly as strong in leg lowering exercises. I’ve lost a lot of my core stability since I stopped doing yoga regularly in a class setting about three years ago. The second part of the ‘Understanding your abs; series offers more information on specifically why doing crunches isn’t really the best idea. TL;DR, we know better now and there are better exercises out there.

To rehabilitate my lower back and get some core strength and stability going, I’m going to start doing three exercises at home using things I already have on hand. Two exercises are from the first video, stir the pot and the bird dog. I tried the bird dog last night and didn’t find it too hard. I tried the stir the pot for the first time tonight, and while I didn’t do it completely correctly, oh boy, that one is going to BURN. The third is called a hand walkout. I tried one set of 10 today, but realized upon rewatching that video that I didn’t bring my hands out far enough; I only went to plank position. I can see how this one will be challenging too, and as I feel stronger I’ll focus on bringing my hands out further. All three of these felt fine for my back and I actually felt better when I was done. I can already feel the slight strain my core took from the stir the pot though, so I have a feeling that one will be my bigger challenge right now. I still did a few (four) sun salutations and will likely keep doing a mix like this daily, at least for a few weeks.

My next post will be my 2011 to-do list, but as a bit of a preview, there are a few fitness related items on that list. I don’t do resolutions, I set things to do instead, and find I achieve a lot more that way. This year I have a few simple but reasonable fitness items. I’d like to add swimming to my fitness repertoire, but I’m not a very strong swimmer. Specifically, I can’t swim under water without holding my nose. I’ve already emailed Recreations services at the University gym about getting more swimming lessons (I went to one in 2010, and then my swim instructor FORGOT to show up for the second one… uh yeah, that didn’t last long, I was pissed). I’d also like to run a 5k. Anyone who knows me well will probably be shocked by this one. I think it’s something I need to do just to say I can, even if I don’t love running in the end. I’ve already removed ‘complete the 200 sit ups program’, as well, if you’ve read this far, you know. And as a reminder that I’d really like yoga to play a bigger part in my life on a regular basis, I’d like to be able to do 30 sun salutations straight by the end of the year. We’ll see, and you’ll definitely be posted.

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