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Muscular back pain help with core strength.

Hi all,

I have a muscular back problem that comes and goes. I have had successful physio onit about 2 years ago where the physio stated that i needed to build my core strength up to sort the problem out.

The exercises were very simple (sitting hip rolls .. on all fours spinal flexing, leg raises etc).

When i followed these exercises they worked after a period of about 2 weeks but i never really kept up any of these core exercises.

I have successfully built up my cycling (mtb off road) over the last couple of years which peaked at some 4 hr + rides on the North downs (Leith/Holmbury/Pitch hills) and one very hillyride on the Soth downs way.

I was considering training this year to try the south downs way challenge in one day which is 100 miles end to end with 10,000 feet of climbing. Not an easy feat and some say equivalent to an ironman in effort ? I had 2 friends do the event last year and only 1 finished in a time of 13 hrs and he has a better level of fitness than me.

My goals have changed a little and are now veering toward an olympic distance tri. I have never done one but have completed over the yrs about 6 sprints. My dream would be to complete an ironman one day but i realise its one step at a time.

I have completely given up alcohol (over 1 yr now) and gave up smoking some yrs ago. I suffer with asthma but its under control.

I feel i am really up for an olympic this year but my main problem at the moment is my back.

I have damaged my back doing various sports including water ski jumping ... weight training etc etc

None of these caused me to have any time off work untill 2 yrs ago when i got up out of a chair and my back just went eventually into spasms and i had 2 weeks off work in absolute agony.

Luckily i have been assured its only muscular. hence the physio and core strength work.

I have started a run/walk running program but sat awkwardly the other night and seemed to set my back off again. I am only 1 week into the 6 week program and now seem to have continuous back pain.

My question is do i carry on with the program and work that along with the core exercises and see if it eventually goes away ?

or should i stop running untill the back ache goes ?

I swam for the 1st time this week in ages and that still made my back ache even tho i used a pull bouy and only did 3 sets of 10 lengths (which was a lot harder than i thought it would be !!!)

i guess the other option would be to go back to a physio and see what they recommend altho this is a costly process that if i do go needs to be kept to a minimum. Married with kids etc ...

The run walk program helped me over 2 yrs ago come back from an achilles problem but my running is more than sporadic.

At the beginning of last year i joined a gym and running 3 times a week on the treadmills up to 30 mins a session was fine, no back ache then. ?

I am really fired up at the moment but its making me miserable. i want to succeed and am prepared to take things slowly hence the run/walk to 5k in 6 weeks. i feel that when i can run 30 mins 3 times a week pain free that will be a great starting point.

Cycling doesnt genrally affect my back so im going to do a couple of hrs off road tomorrow.

any suggestions would be much appreciated.




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    BritspinBritspin Posts: 1,655
    Every thing you do can be 'core' training..as in always, always always consider posture & spinal alignment...pause for sound of all readers sitting up straight... I have just written a basic core programme for a colleague, which we have not gone thru yet, but begins at a very basic level & is (I think) tri specific..I acn copy & send to you if you want to give it a whirl.

    Having said that I went to NHS physio about my back & they told me to sit up straight & use a lumbar roll....thanks.
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    In my experience, if its muscular and given the training you do, then perform a hip flexor stretch 6 times per day for 6 days, its just possible that this simple addition to your stretching routine will remove the back pain you describe.

    Get into an exaggerated lunge postition, so your kneeling knee (touching the floor) is behind your hip and your front leg has the foot well forward of the knee. Back straight push the hip of your kneeling side forwards (minimal movement available - but try) and if you still cant feel the stretch then lift up your arm on the same side.

    if this makes sense and you are willing to try, then i would be interested to hear if it amde any difference, if not then we will move to different exercise and so on until you feel improvement.

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    Jack HughesJack Hughes Posts: 1,262
    With the caveat that you should always ask a professional!... The missus has back problems that seem similar to yours - otherwise fit and active - lots of squash, tennis etc. With the occasional debilitating lower back problem. However, since investing in a Swiss Ball, and doing core/back exercises on that, she's not had a re-occurrence. She's probably more active than ever now. And even starting to show an interest in endurance sports.

    So, a swiss ball is definitely something to invest in! (I use it too, and also at the gym, just for core/stability exercises - do a lot of things like chest/shoulder presses on them, so that more muscles are being worked all the time).

    All that aside, core strength activities should be in every athletes training programme - generally good for building injury avoiding strength - protecting those joints and muscles that get whacked during high impact activities like running.

    So either do core exercises, or core exercises + your other training, as you are able to cope.
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    PaulTPaulT Posts: 6
    Thanks for your replies people. britspin i have pm'd you .. physical Fix i'll give it a go . Can you tell me roughly how far forward your foot should be from the knee ? and where should i be feeling the stretch most.

    Ive tried it and am feeling the stretch mainly at the top front of my leg near to my groin. is this right ? if not can you talk me through it again. How long should i hold the stretch for ? what sort of frequency and duration should i be looking at ?

    thanks again

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    You sound like you are feeling the stretch in the right place, between the top of your quads and "that boney bit that sticks out at the front of your pelvis (ASIS if you want to look it up. email me at [email=teddington@physicalfix.co.uk]teddington@physicalfix.co.uk[/email] and i will send you the diagram I send to my clients who use the same stretch.

    Its very difficult to try and diagnose over a forum, and not wise, but you certainly wont do any harm through stretching your hip flexors and if it works then my hunch is correct.

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    As Jack says, the Swiss ball is a great aid to helping core strength. I have what sounds like exactly the same problem. I have recently spent two weeks at a physio and rehabilitation center, having my back looked at. Although I have been diagnosed with a worn joint in my lower back, most of the problem is with the supporting muscle. I was given some swiss ball exercises to keep doing but also some Pilates exercises. Might not sound very manly, but trust me, doing half an hour every other day will help.

    Also, with regards to the running. I also stopped running when the aches started. My physio advised me to try and run in a slightly different position. My natural position is to run quite upright, but over the last couple of days I have altered this to slightly leaning forward and the only aches I have now are where they should be, in my legs! I would also point out that my back ache would also be worse if I did a a lot of hill running, so this may be a factor, but again, my physio advised that when running downhill, dont let yourself "freewheel" down the slope. This only increases the impact going through the body and the lower back suffers badly. Try to control your running as you move downhill and also think about which foot you land heaviest on. I found that my right foot was taking a bigger impact than my left and funnily enough, its my lower right back that gives me more problems. Obviously, I now concentrate on trying to even this out and run smoother.

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    BritspinBritspin Posts: 1,655
    I find that when I 'freewheel' downhill I do so with way less impact than trying to slow down as by definition, slowing down is a braking & therefore an impact move as the energy has to go somewhere..generally thru an outstretched leg with shocking heel impact as you lean back. Just listen to the sound of my feet slapping the floor if I try to slow, against a light tapping as I go into 'controlled freefall'..
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    latest evidence suggests Alexamder Technique is good in the medium to long term.

    certainly staying mobile, stretching, doing core exercises will do more good than any harm.

    Good luck![:D]
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    I acn copy & send to you if you want to give it a whirl.

    @ Britspin

    If you don't mind mate, i'd like a copy of your plan.....

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    Being a gardener for quite some time, in my experience back problems have come from a result of having poor tummy muscles, once your abdominals have been exhasted your body turns to your back for help as all these muscle groups work together to do1 job and thats to act on your spine.

    stretching is good advice, working on your core is also good, however if you feel your tummy packing in and youfeel your back taking over STOP...

    if you are in pain (in my personal experience) take ibroprophen it will take the swelling down around the infalmed area and give you nsome releif, if you dont then you may cause trouble elsewere compensating.

    Whereabouts is the pain comming from upper, middle or lower,im going to take a stab in the dark and say lower ( iliocostalis ) a very common problem in my trade.

    I'd do crunches on a swiss ball as it will support your back, you'll find yourself shaking once you've balanced correctly and when you stop shaking it means you stomach muscles have been exhausted and your backs doing more of the work, like i said before then its time to stop.

    You'll find if the muscles are week, you'll only be able to do this for a matter of a few seconds ata time and over time for longer periods (we used to do this on the floor at the gym when i used to box, then the trainer would drop a medicine ball on you from sholder height... i never liked him very much [:'(]...)

    also try doing some planks, this helps control, again whn you feel your back kicking in go to your knees and stretch it out.

    hope this helps
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    BritspinBritspin Posts: 1,655
    Gary..you should have it by now.
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