A Balancing Act: Avoiding Lower Back Pain

August 7th 2014 | by Matt Bembridge (AKA Gym Professor)

How to avoid lower back pain.

Your muscles are in a constant tug-of-war, with one set used to extend a bone or limb and another used to flex it. Doing many activities repetitively – whether playing a certain sport, training a certain way, or even slouching on a chair – can cause an imbalance. A common area of imbalance is around the hips and bum (glutes), with often the hip flexors being too tight and the hip extensors, glutes and hamstrings, being too weak, which has a negative effect on your posture by forcing your pelvis out of a neutral position and thereby causing lower back pain through stress on the muscles, ligaments and tendons.

Stretching out tight muscles and strengthening weak muscles is a sensible prehabilitative and rehabilitative measure to avoid issues. Gym equipment and machine placards can rather limit your view on what they can be used for, particularly in a small gym environment of less kit. Being a big advocate of variety in training, I’ll show you how a common item of gym equipment – a 45 Degree Hyper Extension – can be repurposed in to a multi-exercise bench to help you strengthen your lower back, glutes and hamstrings, whilst stretching the opposing muscle groups. 

Traditional-style Hyper-Extension: 

Hyper Extension

Reverse Hyper-Extension: 

Reverse Hypers

Glute Ham Raise
(Hyper-Extension with a Reverse Hamstring Curl):

Glute Ham Raise

Here's a quick video demonstration, below, to show how quick and easy each exercise is to set up and perform with good-form. As with all exercises, check that your equipment (bench, in this instance) is correctly set up to be both safe and comfortable; I make greater emphasis of this fact when re-purposing a bench in this manner! 

Resistance can be added to both the hyper extension and glute ham raise by holding a weight; for the reverse hyper extensions, wrapping a resistance band around the base of the machine and hooking your feet in is probably a preferable method of resistance. That said, I'm a fairly strong individual and a tri-set of 10 to 15 reps with good-form is perfectly adequate for me. 

You can use the 45 Degree Hyper Extension Bench for other exercises too, such as sit-ups, oblique crunches, hip thrusts, bench dips, but I think these are best performed on other items of kit; so it'd only be performing them on there just for the sake of it. 

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Photos and videos taken in Body Management, Clevedon, UK