I was training with a buddy of mine from Saipan a few weeks ago, and as is the case with everybody I workout with I ask what their training is like. He goes on by saying that he has been dealing with some chronic low back pain.
No surprise there.
Almost everybody at some point is going to experience some type of LBP.
After delving into the situation a little bit more as we were midway through our workout, I asked him if he sought out a professional to help alleviate his LBP. He went to several physical therapists, chiropractors, and a few personal trainers, and they all basically said the same thing, “Just stretch your hamstrings.”
You can imagine my disbelief when he said that. That kind of information is about as useful as a used condom. Mind you, these so called “professionals” are supposed to be the real deal in their community. It’s one thing to be incompetent in what you do, but I find it utterly repulsive to be held in high regard and still be an incompetent douche bag (<—yeah, I said it). It’s people like them that give fitness professionals a bad name.
Look, there are multiple factors that can cause an individual to experience low back pain — hip deformity, poor mobility, spinal misalignment, tight hip flexors, weak glutes — but in most cases, stretching is almost never the answer. In fact, stretching actually makes matters worse.
What You Should Do
Your body is smarter than you think. That tightness you’re experiencing… it’s your body holding on for dear life because it’s out of whack. Certain muscle groups (in this case the hamstrings) create a “protective tension” to try and provide some level of stability that is lacking elsewhere. Stretching those “tight” muscles destabilizes them, which will further increase your chance of becoming injured. So uhh…you’re basically just screwing yourself going through the same mundane stretching routine day-in and day-out.
Something as simple as a side plank, can get you feeling brand new — it works like magic (seriously, it does).
Pretty cool huh? Like I said, just like magic.
To put things into perspective, when the muscles surrounding your spine is lacking adequate stability, it’s going to look elsewhere to garner some tension. That is why it is imperative to know why your hamstrings and/or low back is tight in the first place. While there are some people who absolutely need to improve their range of motion through various mobility drills and foam rolling techniques, it’s ignorant to assume everybody needs to do them because they’re feeling tight.