Most people think that the human spine is one of evolution’s greatflaws. The truth is the spine is a robust structure. We are just using it incorrectly.
Human tissue needs to be exposed to loads to become strong – and thespine is a good example of this. Regular loading prepares the joints, muscleand ligaments for normal tasks. Nobody would expect to run a marathon withoutpreparing the body for such loading, so it seems logical that to be able tolift a weight requires exposure to that activity.
Finding the sweet spotThose teaching that lifting should be avoided, indicate that it is not just theone-off heavy lift that is the problem. Repeated and regular bending andlifting of the spine is cited as a risk for back injury, particularly when combined with twisting.
There appearsto be a loading “sweet spot” where the lower back is gradually trained to copewith the load. Rapid increases in training load with poor recoveryis associated with onset of back pain in rowers. Rowers who move well through their hips, knees and other joints are less likely to get back pain.
Avoid loading your back with a bent spine
More stable when curvedThe spine is in fact a more stable structure when it is curved. Advice to keepthe back straight and bend at the hips when lifting is to encourage the use ofthe large muscles around the hips and in the legs, to help with the load.
People are becoming less active and more overweight, which means theyare becoming less fit and less able to tolerate the activity and heavy loading.The best way to prevent back pain is with exercise. Promote regularlifting to be part of their everyday routine. To build the muscles of thespine, the load must be heavy enough, as with any weight training.