Do you “Feel it in your back?”

Recently I gave someone a new movement to try instead of a regular barbell press. Their response was “oh wow! I don’t feel pain in my back!” My reaction was, “You normally feel pain in your back?!”

Clearly it’s necessary to make sure you know that unless you are performing an exercise specifically designed to strengthen your lower back you really shouldn’t feel anything there. If you are pressing, pulling, lifting something off the ground, or squatting you should not have lower back pain. If you do it is a sign that your posture is off and you are likely relying on your lower back to do work it isn’t designed for.

Next time you do a movement and you feel pressure or pinching in your lower back make sure you either adjust your posture by engaging your abs or just change the exercise.

Pulling your chest down, filling you stomach with air, making yourself as tall as possible, or facing your belt buckle to the sky are good ways to visualize adjusting your posture. If you want to scale the movement, choose an exercise that takes your back out of the equation. For instance you could lay down on a bench to perform rows instead of leaning over. Or you could perform an incline bench press instead of a handstand pushup.

Choosing any of these options to take pressure off your lower back will help you train without injury and build more strength in the muscles you are targeting. Then separately you can add in mobility and core work to make the originally prescribed exercise painless.

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