Approximate Reading Time: 4-8 min
The lower back is a complex of various structures that meet and interact: vertebrae, discs, the sacroiliac joint, the pelvis, hips; as well as an array of connective tissue and muscle that transmits force between these structures. The lower back and trunk also connects our upper and lower body – in fact, pain or asymmetry in the legs or shoulders can often cause pain in the lower back too.
Mechanical injury to these structures can usually be simmered down to a simple imbalance in the body: between LOAD and CAPACITY. When a load (such as a heavy landing, a fall, or even the load of a new position), exceeds the capacity of tissue to withstand that force, injury will occur. Therefore, the greater the load-bearing capacity of our bodies, the smaller our risk of injury!
A healthy lower back is one which can withstand a range of forces in a range of positions. It makes sense then that ‘lower back pain’ both acute and chronic can sometimes be attributed to a LACK of variety in the positions that we move and withstand force in. Let’s take the classic example of being ‘desk-bound’ at our computers – prolonged sitting with a rounded back and shoulders. The term ‘poor posture’ is sometimes overused – a postural position is only ‘poor’ if we are limited to this position and the strength we build there, thus compromising the body’s ability to function in other positions. Even the fittest athletes will, at some point, slouch at a computer!
The key is not just to ‘sit up straight’ at our screens: but to stand, bend, lie down, sit cross-legged, squat low.. even slouch. The key is variety. Feed your body (and your lower back) with new positions, with different amounts of load forced through different structures. Feed your body with MOVEMENT SNACKS.
A movement snack is a nutritious nugget of movement for our bodies. It’s nutritious because it provides our bodies with new and beneficial stimulus. We’ve all been told to ‘get up and walk around every hour at your desk’ - that’s a movement snack. Walking barefoot around the backyard or the block, while making a phone call for work. Sitting on the ground in a variety of different positions. Going through a joint circle protocol (like our's on youtube). Folding your washing in a low resting squat position. Standing on one leg for balance as you wait for pedestrian lights. Tiny, bite-sized movement stimuli that you can pepper into your day, without specifically allocating time for ‘exercise’.
See how many movement snacks you can feed your body over a few hours. For our backs, these movement snacks are vital to improving the adaptability of our trunks. Our spine is one of several vital connections for mechanical load in the body – we need to ensure that it’s up to the challenge of whatever activity we choose to do, and not limit ourselves to the way we repeatedly train, sit or move. Increase capacity, to decrease injury – and increase strength, grace, and resilience.