There I was in the 80’s… an aerobics instructor with big hair, a cool headband and neon tights leading the class in a popular pelvic tilt exercise. “Four more, three more… let’s tuck those butts ladies!” Little did I know that over 30 years later, I’d be making videos and educating patients on why butt tucking is damaging their low backs, their posture, their core strength and causing a whole host of injuries from disc problems to sciatica, chronically tight hamstrings and knee pain.
Furthermore, low back pain is so rampant these days that it’s considered an epidemic! More than half of all Canadians suffer from low back pain every year. We’re losing precious moments and taking too many medications because of it. So, what’s going on?
What I wish I knew then:
Your spine has natural curves. It’s shaped like a wave to make you resilient, strong and balanced. (Check out this link… it’s a cool interactive spine). If you’re looking at yourself from the back, your neck and low back should both curve in slightly; while your upper back would curve towards you. The discs and joints of each area of the spine are specially designed to accommodate these curves. In other words, the joints and discs of your upper back/thoracic spin are better suited to round forward, (but not too much or you’ll destroy your posture) and your lower back is better suited to bend backwards slightly.
When you round your lower back bending forward or lifting, the curve reverses, causing flexion. While a healthy spine can certainly handle that occasionally, too much of it makes you ripe for injury. That same type of rounded low back position occurs when you slouch in your chair or walk with a tucked pelvis. If you don’t learn new ways to bend, lift, sit and hold your posture you’ll find your issues repetitive, chronic and very frustrating.
What’s the solution?
Here are 4 simple steps that you can start doing today. Try them and you’ll notice within a few days that your low back will feel more free and less fragile.
- Don’t tuck your butt! I know, this sounds simple but if you’re doing pelvic tilts that flatten your lower back, please stop. Fortunately, there are more efficient ways to strengthen your gluts without making your back unstable.
- Shift your weight to your heels. When you tuck your butt you also likely tend to keep the majority of your weight on the front part of your foot, rounding your body forward.
Try this: (Sorry but you’ll have to stand for this part)
Picture 3 points on your foot: the ball of the big toe, ball of the baby toe and your heel. Make a triangle of these 3 points as you’re standing. Now, shift a titch more than 50% of your weight into your heel. If you’re are a butt tucker or sloucher you’ll likely fall backwards slightly. In short, this is because your low back and core are weak . Try this whenever you’re standing and notice how it forces you to begin to use these muscles and correct your posture.
- Don’t slouch in your chair! I have done many videos on how to sit in your chair properly using a simple pillow for support. Here’s one of them.
- Learn to hinge. I can’t say this one enough… learning to bend at the hips while keeping the spine aligned will save your spine, give you the core strength you always dreamed of, and correct your posture.
Here are 3 exercises to make sure you do it correctly:
- See a chiropractor. Sometimes these habits have gone on for so long that your low back and sacroiliac joints are locked up and you need an adjustment to restore your full range of motion. Beginning any new exercise program when you have underlying spinal issues can be more detrimental than helpful. Only a chiropractor is trained to diagnose and correct these issues.
Try these 5 simple steps and you’ll be amazed by how different your body feels. Low back pain is debilitating and sucks up your days. If you are wondering which exercises are best for you contact us for an appointment and let’s ensure you make low back pain a thing of the past.