My back hurts. Make it stop. I'm going to be grumpy until it stops.
August 5, 2013 6:07 PM   Subscribe

I've been doing Jillian Michaels Body Revolution for the past couple months and my back has gotten progressively worse during Phase II to the point I'm now regressing and can't do exercises I previously could. What do I need to be doing differently to protect my back?

I have mild/moderate scoliosis in my lower back and have had at least mild back pain since probably my late teens. Basically I arch too much and this puts a lot of pressure on the base of my back. Most people with back pain seem to not be flexible, but I'm the opposite. I'm too flexible.

I've been maintaining a pretty decent exercise routine for the last few months after successfully completing the 30 day shred. I don't remember my back getting any worse while doing that. However since I've started to try and progress and have added more weight or often any weight (for a good deal of the 30 day shred I couldn't complete most of the exercises with added weights). My back has gone hugely downhill. I was hoping that I would build up muscles and that would help (building up my core has helped in the past but those days appear to be long gone), but I've had no luck. I try to sit out or modify any exercise that causes me pain or discomfort in my lower back, but that hasn't helped much.

Now it's gotten to the point that even doing a plank hurts my lower back and I also find that I have no strength in lower back and it just gives out in seconds of trying. I used to have no problem holding planks for 60+ seconds, but now my back just kills no matter how hard I engage my core. Also I'm finding that the back part of my hips are hurting as well which is totally new for me. So the area of pain seems to be radiating out almost.

I realized today that the reason why I've found it so hard to stick to my exercise routine for the last month is that my back is killing me and all I want to do in the evenings is have a glass of wine to kill the pain not exacerbate it more by exercising. I've put on 3 lbs that way and it needs to stop.

What can I do differently to minimize the pain and get back to exercising?

I do the bend over and let your arms hang thing and that helps, but the effects don't last more than ten minutes really. Same with rolling like a ball.
posted by whoaali to Health & Fitness (7 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Go to a physical therapist (you can get a referral from your GP -- make sure you're going to someone who works with young and athletic people, and not just elderly people, because their techniques will be different) who can help you assess your specific problems and give you specific exercises to help your back. I have a sheet of exercises drawn out for me by my physical therapist that strengthen me in the ways I need to be strengthened. Don't just do whatever people who don't know exactly what's wrong with you suggest, because obviously there are some standard exercises that don't work for you. Find a good physical therapist!
posted by brainmouse at 6:12 PM on August 5, 2013 [3 favorites]

I have mild/moderate scoliosis in my lower back and have had at least mild back pain since probably my late teens. Basically I arch too much and this puts a lot of pressure on the base of my back. Most people with back pain seem to not be flexible, but I'm the opposite. I'm too flexible.

I believe scoliosis technically refers to a lateral curvature of the spine, i.e. when the spine curves to one side or the other. An exaggerated arch in the spine is hyperlordosis, or anterior pelvic tilt. APT is common, especially in women. Your description makes it sound like that's what's causing you pain, although seeing you in person would make it easy to tell if that were the case.

Anterior pelvic tilt is pretty common and you can find a lot of articles about how to treat it. Here's a popular writeup on the issue and here's another. Basically you want to stretch the hip flexors and strengthen the glutes and abs.

If planks are hurting your lower back, it's probably because you're not using your abs as they're meant to be used in the exercise, which is to prevent spinal extension, and are instead allowing your lumbar spine to hyperextend and bear the weight of your torso.
posted by ludwig_van at 6:23 PM on August 5, 2013 [4 favorites]

Response by poster: I was diagnosed with a decently serious case of scoliosis as a kid/ teen that never fully resolved itself. However I've read that just because you have scoliosis that it isn't necessarily the cause of back pain so this Ludwig_van this gives me something to investigate further.

Also I never think of my back being bad enough for physical therapy but maybe if its interfering with my ability to exercise it is bad enough.
posted by whoaali at 7:17 PM on August 5, 2013

If it is causing you to go home and drink to dull the pain it is absolutely bad enough for physical therapy.

You need to find out what you've damaged, heal and rehabilitate it as necessary (definitely find a sports-oriented physio), then probably find a different type of exercise to do going forward. All of this will take some time but it will also leave you stronger and fitter in the long run. Whereas what you're doing now sounds like it's actively hurting you.
posted by shelleycat at 1:54 AM on August 6, 2013 [2 favorites]

Kelly Starrett explains how to keep a neutral spine pretty well.
posted by callmejay at 5:11 AM on August 6, 2013

Pain isn't weakness leaving the body. Pain is a signal telling you to STOP!

I had bulging disks that ruputured because of inappropriate exercise. Hie thee to a Osteopath or a Orthopedist for an evaluation.

My mother has scoliosis and it's really doing a number on her nerves, causing her a lot of pain.

After my disks ruptured I have accepted that skiing, hockey and lunges are simply off the table. It sucks, but that's the state of my body.

You may have to accept that you CAN'T do everything that you want to do. A Physical Therapist can help you make adaptations to your current exercise routine that will accomodate your spinal issues.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 5:56 AM on August 6, 2013

I went to a pilates class taught by a physiotherapist (I think that's your equivalent of a physical therapist). She taught lots of stability exercises that aimed not just at strengthening your core, but also strengthening it in the right way so that you hold your body in a way that helps prevent injury and back discomfort. It was the sort of exercise class that was super easy for the first four sessions and then I suddenly understood what she was trying to get me to do and then it became super hard. It did improve my posture and movement in other sports though.

If your back is hurting when you do a plank then (as is mentioned above), you're probably letting your lower back collapse by not using your core muscles to keep a neutral position. Sorry, but doing this makes the exercise at least 5 times harder!! This is exactly the sort of thing I've done in every good pilates class I've been to so that might be something to look into, but make sure you stick around for a good few sessions until you really understand what they're aiming for you to do. I would also strongly recommend finding one taught by a physical therapist that can understand any injuries/issues you have and modify or not modify accordingly.
posted by kadia_a at 12:18 AM on August 17, 2013 [1 favorite]

« Older Help me figure out if there's a market out there...   |   Can anxiety feel like this? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.