The Missing Step In Low Back Pain Rehab For Lifters

The Missing Step In Low Back Pain Rehab For Lifters

September 28, 2023

Low back pain is one of the most common injuries for lifters, so chances are that if you’ve been lifting for long enough, you’ve either experienced this type of injury yourself, or you may experience it in the future.

Many of the lifters who have come to us for help with their back pain have been to other physical therapy clinics, and the vast majority of them have missed this one key step in truly solving their low back pain.

And that is….training the lower back outside of a neutral spine position.

The reason why this is key to truly solving low back pain as a lifter is that, despite your best efforts, you’re eventually going to find yourself outside of a neutral spine position in the gym.

Whether that’s the last rep or two of a hard 10-rep set of squats, during a 1RM deadlift attempt, or during heavy cleans or snatches, it’s inevitable that you will eventually be loading your low back outside of a neutral position.

And if you never train this during the rehab process, you won’t be as prepared to handle the stress of this, and your risk of re-injury is going to be higher.

So the question is…” how can I train my back to handle this?”

Well, we’re glad you asked!

We’re going to show you some of our favorite drills that we use to do this with our clients every day!

Jefferson Curl
The Jefferson curl is a great way to train your back in a flexed position, which will sometimes happen with heavy lifting.

To properly perform the Jefferson curl, you’re going to start in a standing position and slowly round your spine from the top down, and then reverse the motion to return to the full standing position.

You can start this exercise with just bodyweight, and add weight over time as it gets easier and easier.


Half-Kneeling Side Bend
The half-kneeling side bend allows us to train our low back through side bending/lateral flexion.

To perform this movement, you’re going to start in a half-kneeling position with a light weight in the opposite hand of the leg that’s forward.

From there, slowly bend towards the side holding the weight, before returning to the starting position.


Back Extension
The back extension lets us train our low back through both flexion and extension.

To perform this exercise, you’re going to get set on a GHD with the pad placed at your pelvis.

From here, you’re going to lower yourself down, intentionally rounding the spine as much as is comfortable, and then lifting yourself back up through spine extension.


Half-Kneeling Windmill
This is one of our favorite drills because it takes the low back through a combination of flexion, rotation, and side bending.

To perform this movement, you’re going to get set in a half-kneeling position, with the leg opposite of the overhead hand forwards.

From here, you’re going to hinge your hips back and to the side, reaching your forearm to the floor. While you’re trying to make this a hinge motion, your lower back is going to be moving quite a bit.


We start most of our clients with three sets of 6-8 reps, and progress them over time by increasing the range of motion, adding more weight, or increasing the volume!

If you’re looking for help in solving your back pain and getting back to your active lifestyle, fill out our contact form and we’ll reach out to figure out if we’re the right fit for you!

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