Those who suffer from back pain know how debilitating and frustrating it can be. It not only affects your fitness routine, but also your everyday activities like sitting at a desk, going for a walk or playing with your kids.
Celestine, P.volve trainer, preaches the importance of improving your mobility and flexibility as ways to help those everyday aches and pains. Below, she explains the ins and outs of mobility, and how our method can be a major factor in improving these symptoms:
How can back pain limit your mobility and flexibility?
Depending on the cause of back pain, it will either limit range of motion or prevent any movement. Sometimes pain may be an indicator that something isn’t right in the body and will prevent us from moving in certain positions to limit further complications. Other times, not moving enough can be the cause of back pain. Prolonged sitting can create stiffness in the low back because compression forces of spinal flexion are increased than when we are sitting versus standing upright or laying down.
When a person slouches, the lower back (which naturally has a slight curve called the lordosis) will tend to straighten and this will place more pressure on the front part of the spinal disc (the cushions between two vertebrae that prevent the bones from grinding on each other). The same holds true if a person over arches in their back, except the pressure will be one the back side of the discs. This can increase low back discomfort and could potentially lead to bulging and/or herniations. Maintaining proper alignment allows the weight of the body to equally distribute over each the spinal discs.
How does someone know if their mobility is limited?
Someone will know they have limited mobility when they don’t have full range of motion at their joints, which leaves them feeling restricted and/or stiff. They may also have poor posture and don’t move as fluid during general activities.
How could mobility (or lack thereof) impact results?
Lack of mobility can lead to compensations and change the muscles that are activated during an exercise. For example, if an individual has tight quadriceps or hip flexors, they won’t be able to lift their leg as high during a leg extension or 6 o’clock step back exercises. This will lead to compensation patterns such as arching in the low back or hiking the hip respectively. Arching of the low back may overuse the paraspinals and hiking the hip may overuse the quadratus lumborum which may lead to lower back pain.
Think of the core as a canister that drives the entire body. If the canister is deformed or dented in one spot, then the other parts that support it have to work hard to hold its upright shape. Generally, the abdominals tend to become weak if they are not purposely trained and/or consistently moved. The back and abdominal muscles' purpose is to support the spine, but if the abs are turned off then the back muscles must work harder to support the spine, leading to back discomfort.
Another example is either pressing the arms overhead or horizontally abducting—the chest and lats may be tight so an individual will compensate by arching in the low back and trusting the ribs forward to try and gain more range of motion.
What are three ways P.volve can help with this?
P.volve provides dynamic stretches at the beginning of each workout, offers recovery equipment such as the Precision Foam Roller, and Recover & Stretch classes to focus on different areas of the body such as releasing the hip flexors. We also focus on core strength with planks, rotations, and other ab exercises to build stronger abdominals, which will place less strain on the back muscles having to do extra work to support the spine.
How can someone get started with improving mobility?
Members can take advantage of both Live Virtual Studio classes and on-demand workouts during rest days or after a workout. If looking for an on-demand class, choose one that focuses on opening up the areas worked on during class, such as the chest, back, hips or legs. It’s also important to perform static stretches immediately after a workout to prevent injury and maintain extensibility. Generally, you’ll want to stretch 3-5x per week and hold each stretch for around 30 seconds each.