Strong Back Muscles Might Not Be The Solution To Your Back ProblemJan 14, 2019
Magazine or news articles about health and fitness are not usually written by experts. A journalist interprets an expert’s paper maybe, or they interview an expert. Still, the final article is filtered through the knowledge of the interpreter.
I’ve read many an article that puts the blame for your back pain on the lack of strong back muscles. In reality, that’s just one of many reasons.
Your back pain could just as well be due to a lack of flexibility. Every person(’s body) is different.
Let’s say you’re someone who enjoys strength training and also experiences back pain. Let’s say you’ve been lifting weights at the gym for several years or even decades. Your muscles have become stronger and - something you might not have considered - shorter throughout those years. You read said article and you think that increasing your strength training from two to three times per week must be the solution to your back problem. Not a big deal. You enjoy it anyway. In the process, you make your muscles even shorter. After a few months, you’re a bit frustrated because your back pain is still there. You must increase your training to four times per week then, the thinking goes.
Turns out you need the opposite.
Often, what we need is what we don’t enjoy because it’s hard. We’re not good at it (yet). Said in a different way, what’s hard for us is exactly what we should be doing. It helps create balance, instead of making us more and more imbalanced.
We are so stuck in the ‘more is better’ mindset that we can’t even imagine that doing less of something might be the solution.
Our professional lives move more and more towards specialization, and niching. Get really good at one thing, a small field. It’s better to be a big fish in a small pond than a small fish in a big pond.
But your body doesn’t work like that. It needs to do a little bit of this and a little bit of that to stay balanced.
Let me admit something: I’m an awful runner. Like, terrible, really. All I can manage right now is 30 minutes of alternate walking and running (1 minute each). I don’t even bother counting miles. Due to hypermobility, my joints just don’t have much strength (yet). I enjoy being outside though and I know that it’s what I need to help my body get more balanced. I have a history of osteoporosis in my family, and the impact during running will help me build stronger bones. I intend to run not even though I’m bad at it, but because I’m bad at it. It helps to tell everyone, that I’m really bad at it, so they can get their expectations in check. :)
Does that make sense?
What are you terrible at that you want to try anyway?
Inside the Pilates Encyclopedia membership, we have a whole chapter called “Pilates Protocols” in which we list appropriate exercises for injuries and pathologies.