Miscellaneous Blog Posts

Back pain diary

Now the sudden autumn thunder and rain are over, but I haven’t been riding much this week due to a lower back pain. It may be because of too much desk work, too little sleep, slacking in crunches, practicing on my bike nonetheless, or probably all of the above. It was even interfering with my daily life but is finally getting better after some days.

So let me talk a bit about back pain prevention, though I guess it’s rather common knowledge. To start with, the causes of back pain are said to be the lack of enough muscle strengths for your activity level or unbalanced status thereof, which constitute the underlying cause, and the bad body movement that pulls the trigger.

For the former element, it’s commonly said that the bad balance between the abs and back muscles causes it. From my experience, abs tend to stay dormant while back muscles have decent stimulation from daily life, shifting the balance towards the “abs < back” status. Therefore, you better do at least crunches if you are a natural athlete who don’t hit the gym often. By saying “for your activity level,” I mean that: If you experience back pains in daily life without sports, your muscles are weak so you want to train; and if you do sports that entail hard impacts or high loads, you want to train hard to match up.

I do feel the pain there – it is surely unreasonable that we need to make that much effort to just stay alive and kicking. However, it’s the fate we started to bear when we started walking on two feet. On the other hand it gave us the intellectual quality, civilization and bicycles, so I kind of feel it’s a fair trade.

As for the latter, more direct cause about the body movement, the typical error is to pick up something on the floor without bending the legs, just by bending the back. This is so easy to do and causes no problem if you are fully healthy and the stuff is light. But it’s the most common way to start your career of slipped disc problem if something goes wrong. Due to the intensive pressure on the discs between back bones in this position, it can crush the discs and cause permanent damages quite easily.

To avoid this, you need to bend your knees and ankles while keeping your back straight when lifting things positioned low. Just like in deadlifts, you need to take that jocky position. If you have ever experienced sports that entail precise body movements or done serious deadlifts, however, you’d rather never do the casual, dangerous way of lifting things. Being the two-legged creature that we are, athletic is the only way to survive.

Just for your reference, here’s a deadlift footage.

(In the case of broken link, search on YouTube)

It’s impressive how he does it smoothly all the way until he puts the bar down, despite the heavy bar weighing around 460kg. He’s my hero.