Most of us (80% that is) will experience some degree of back pain in their life and anybody who has it can tell you they’d do anything to get out of it. Back pain was once thought of almost as a mystery as to why it happened to some and not to others. It was largely blamed on tight hamstrings, poor lifting mechanics or just bad luck. But now I, and most fitness professionals can take one look at someone and tell if they’re prone for a back injury.
This ONE exercise could save thousands from hurting their lower backs, but most will NEVER EVEN hear of it.
Ok so poor lifting mechanics are a huge factor when it comes to lower back pain. But why do people lift poorly in the first place? It’s rare to see children experience a lower back injury like adults do for one big reason. They are still using their primitive mechanics and haven’t been sitting on their backside for years. When a baby learns to stand they do it from a squatting position, and most adults can’t even get down to this squatting position, a baby therefore can already squat better than most adults can.
If you try to watch a most grown people try to squat their bodies stay absolutely straight as they bring their knees forward to squat down. We were even squatting to relieve ourselves from poop for thousands of years, but we traded that as well when they invented the toilet bowl. To get back into your body’s natural anatomical position for pooping, place a small stepper underneath your feet so your knees rise up next time you “eliminate your waste.”
When you think about it our bodies were meant to move and to move efficiently. Over the past century we’ve slowly become more and more sedentary. We’re sit when we’re driving our car, we sit while we’re working and we sit while we’re watching TV or playing on the computer. Years of all this sitting has cause the glute muscles (your butt muscles) to slowly degrade and become inactive. But I’m about to teach you the single most important exercise to activate your glute muscles so they fire and you’ll be less likely to experience a back injury.
The exercise I’m talking about is called the Hip Bridge. The hip bridge is a fantastic exercise to fire the muscles of the gluteus and get them back into action. Having these muscles strong and ready to fire will effectively aid in relieving you of back pain and will help give you correct lifting mechanics.
- Lay on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor.
- Raise your toes up towards the sky keeping your heels on the ground.
- Lift your hips off the ground and squeeze your butt cheeks together really hard.
- Hold the position once your body has become perfectly straight from your knees to your shoulders. (use a mirror to help)
Start this exercise by doing holds for 20-30 seconds for 2-3 sets. Eventually graduating to moving your hips slowly up and down for 12-15 repetitions for 2-3 sets with a 1-2 second pause at the top. I would strongly recommend incorporating this exercise into your warm-up when you workout, every 2-3 hours after sitting, or if you are in back pain and would like some relief. And do your best to walk for a few minutes after sitting for an hour or so, you’ll feel better and be on your way to living healthy and pain-free.
Josh holds a Bachelor’s degree in Exercise Physiology and Nutrition Science. He’s a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) by the National Strength and Conditioning Association. He’s worked as a Strength and Conditioning Coach at the high school and college level. He has over 10 years experience as a personal trainer and nutrition coach. He is also the author of The Flat Belly Formula. He hopes to be able to bring inspiration & results to people all over the world to live a healthier life through diet & exercise.