I have occasional lower back pain, which began when I performed a weighted squat improperly a couple of years ago. I hadn’t warmed up, and failed to properly hinge at the hips (word to the wise: don't do this!). Since then, I’ve had varying levels of pain, but it has gotten a lot better thanks to one move.
Given that low back pain is the single leading cause of disability worldwide, I thought I’d share an approach that has done wonders for me and many others.
It’s designed to essentially undo the effects of sitting—by activating our woefully underdeveloped posterior chains (all the muscles on the back of your body that work as a unit to keep you upright—this includes your hammies, butt, back, core, and shoulders). Unlike typical corrective therapy, it focuses on the entire unit, not just one joint or muscle group.
It’s called Foundation Training.
Foundation Training is a protocol designed by Eric Goodman. It’s part yoga, part pilates, and part physical therapy, with the focus being to activate the posterior chain and strengthen the muscles that control movement. Today, we are very anterior- (or front-) dominant. We sit at desks which cause our cores to become weak and then only work our abs and chests when we go to the gym.
The main move in Foundation Training is the Founder. Do this every single day (with a few variations) and you should see your back pain improve dramatically. Mine has since I’ve started doing this — and in case you’re wondering, I have no affiliation whatsoever with the program. I don’t even know Dr. Goodman.
Watch the video below to learn how to do it properly.
Aside from watching videos on YouTube (search "Foundation Training"), you can also learn from Dr. Goodman's books, of which he has two (I own both). Start with Foundation: Redefine Your Core, Conquer Back Pain, and Move with Confidence. It's packed with full-page pictures and demonstrations of a myriad of poses and variations of the Founder.
Does your back hurt only when you are positioned in a particular way, like when you're tilting to use the sink? Or when you're picking something up off of a low table? His more recent book, True to Form: How to Use Foundation Training for Sustained Pain Relief and Everyday Fitness, shows how to integrate the poses into every day postures. You'll learn how to make any task not only more back friendly but a potential strengthening exercise in-and-of itself.
Let me know how this works for you in the comments below!