Back pain may be the most common pain that people complain of and that limits their ability to complete daily activities. One of the first things that seems to go is the ability to lift objects, especially anything heavy or from the floor. Although most of us don’t think of it like this, when lifting a heavy object from the floor, often we are performing a functional deadlift.
I have worked with several people that have given up lifting objects all together to avoid pain. Their significant other or a family member have become their permanent “lifter” of all things. Or, if they exercise regularly, they avoid deadlifting when at the gym altogether.
There are ways that you can get back to lifting objects, reaching the floor, and lifting something heavy again. Don’t let your back diagnosis keep you from being able to return to normal function and lift objects around your home again.
For more information on what your back diagnosis means, check out: Defining the Spine: What Does My Diagnosis Mean?
Physical Therapy for Lower Back Pain
If you have back pain that is limiting your activity you should be working with a physical therapist before your pain begins to affect other areas of your body and life. By working together, you and your physical therapist can determine the cause of your pain and teach you ways to alleviate and prevent it from happening again.
Your doctor of physical therapy will do an evaluation at the start of your care to determine the possible causes of your pain based on your symptoms and medical history. Once they gather this information, they will then develop a treatment plan to address them.
They may use different techniques such as manual therapy, postural, core, and muscle control, and/or education to address the deficits that may be leading to your pain. They may also have you completing strength training exercises, stretches, and making postural changes to further benefit your progress.
The things you focus on with your physical therapist will be specific to help you reach your goals and educate you on how to prevent injury from occurring again.
Strength Training to Prevent Recurrent Back Pain
What muscles are typically weak when we have difficulty deadlifting or lifting things?
Generally, the muscle groups that are weak include the core, glutes, and lower extremities. Rarely do we focus on upper body strength when learning to lift heavy objects from the ground.
What exercises should be done to ensure strengthening of these weak links?
Here are a few exercise examples to benefit your core, glutes, and lower extremities:
Ball press downs
Sit to stand, without using your arms
With each exercise you do to work on your strength, remember to focus on contracting the specific muscles targeted during that exercise. Avoid using momentum of your movement or letting your posture suffer throughout. If you're interested in learning about the "Top 5 Exercises for a Bulletproof Back," click here for my free e-book guide!
How to Prevent Lower Back Pain After Deadlift (or Just Lifting)
As I always stress, using this new strength during your daily activity is the most important part of being able to lift objects from the floor without pain. If you strengthen your glutes, core, and legs but don’t know how to turn these muscles when you pick up an object, you may still experience some pain.
The other part of this is maintaining the posture and techniques you learn through physical therapy to decrease the strain you place on your back when squatting or bending over.
Once you are able to use the correct posture and muscles during the lifting position and movement, you will be able to pick up objects from the ground without pain in your back for the long term. Using this technique each time you bend over to lift a heavy object or try deadlifting at the gym, will help to prevent the return of pain or further injury in your future.
In the blog I wrote on finding your core, you can learn how to engage your core muscles and what it means to use them. Click here to read more!