fitness theories

Lower back problems




Lower back ploblems is one of the major factors that cause debilitating conditions for

everyone especially the older population, there are questiuons as to whether surgery is a                                                     

good healing procedure or if exercise should be used as a sole intervention in attenuating

this problem?      

Here are   a few tips for developing  a strong lower back:

1. The strenght of the lower back goes hand in hand with lower abdominal strength.

2.Always try to maintain a natural curve in your spine at all times while doing exercises with weights.

3.The roman chair back extension should  be done without hyperextendind excessively on upward movement as this  can produce daunting, painfull results

 See diagram



4. Be very careful when lifting heavy objects, do not bend over but rather squat while keeping the lower back as straight as possible. See Diagrams


The individual on the left is lifting with the wrong posture, as you may observe his lower back will bear most of the load, the correct posture is on the right removing the lower back. Also the load is placed as close to the body as possible reducing the effect of gravity in making the load heavier.)               

5.Always sit upright with your back against the back of the chair ,knees should be even or slightly higher than hips; do not sit in the same position for more than 30 mins. When standing

from  a chair, move to the front of the seat of your chair. Stand up by straightening  your legs , avoid bending  forward  at the waist. Take a look at the diagrams below showing the correct

sitting position with and without a lumbar support:




Correct sitting position with lumbar support (right).

6. When sleeping or just lying down, the pillow should be under your head and not your shoulders and should be just thick enough to keep your head in a normal position. Try to sleep

in a position which helps you maintain a neutral spinal position.e.g: On your back with a pillow under your knees or a lumbar roll under your lower back, on your side with

knees slightly bent. Avoid sleeping on your side with knees drawn up to your chest or lying on your stomach on a  saggy mattress


Ones posture is very essential for eliminating lower back problems

What is good posture?
Posture is the position in which you hold your body upright against gravity while standing, sitting or lying down. Good posture involves training your body to stand,

walk, sit and lie in positions where the least strain is placed on supporting muscles and ligaments during movement or weight-bearing activities. Proper posture:

  • Keeps bones and joints in the correct alignment so that muscles are being used properly.
  • Helps decrease the abnormal wearing of joint surfaces that could result in arthritis.
  • Decreases the stress on the ligaments holding the joints of the spine together.
  • Prevents the spine from becoming fixed in abnormal positions.
  • Prevents fatigue because muscles are being used more efficiently, allowing the body to use less energy.
  • Prevents strain or overuse problems.
  • Prevents backache and muscular pain.
  • Contributes to a good appearance.

The diagram below shows some of the most common types of postural problems:


Proper posture requirements

  1. Good muscle flexibility
  2. Normal motion in the joints
  3. Strong postural muscles.
  4. A balance of muscles on both sides of the spine.
  5. Awareness of your own posture, plus awareness of proper posture which leads to conscious correction. With much practice, the correct posture for standing, sitting, and lying down will gradually replace your old posture





         The following advice will benefit a majority of people with back pain. If any of the following guidelines causes an increase of pain or spreading of pain to the legs, do not continue the activity and seek the advice of a physician or physical therapist.   

Coutersy of the cleveland clinic foundation





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Diagnosed With a Herniated Disc?

By: Dr. Robert Duvall, DPT, ATC, MGFI

You've probably heard people say they have a "slipped" or "ruptured" disc in the back. Sometimes they complain that their back “went out”. What they're most likely describing is a herniated disc. This condition is a common source of back and leg pain.

Discs are soft cushions found between the vertebrae that make up the spinal column (your backbone). In the middle of the spinal column is the spinal canal, a hollow space that contains the spinal cord. The nerves that supply the arms, leg, and torso come from the spinal cord. The nerves from the neck supply the arms and hands, and the nerves from the low back supply the butt and legs. The discs between the vertebrae allow the back to move freely and act like shock absorbers.

The disc is made up of two main sections. The outer part (the annulus) is made up of tough cartilage that is comprised of series of rings. The center of the disc is a jelly-like substance called the nucleus pulposus. A disc herniates or ruptures when part of the jelly center pushes through the outer wall of the disc into the spinal canal, and puts pressure on the nerves. A disc bulge is when the jelly substance pushes the outer wall but doesn't completely go through the wall.

What do you feel?

Low back pain will affect four out of five people during their lifetime. The most common symptom of a herniated disc is “sciatica”. Sciatica is best described as a sharp, often shooting pain that begins in the buttocks and goes down the back of one leg. This is most often caused by pressure on the sciatic nerve that exits the spinal cord. Other symptoms include:

  • Weakness in one leg or both legs

  • Numbness and tingling in one leg (pins & needles)

  • A burning pain centered in the low back

  • Loss of bladder or bowel control (seek medical attention immediately)

  • Back pain with gradually increasing leg pain. (If you have weakness in both legs. Seek immediate attention.)

How do you know you have a herniated disc?

Your medical history is key to a proper diagnosis. A physical examination can usually determine which nerve roots are affected (and how seriously). A simple x-ray may show evidence of disc or degenerative spine changes. An MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) is usually the best option (most expensive) to determine which disc has herniated.

Why do discs herniate?

Discs are primarily composed of water. As we become older (after the age of 30), the water content decreases, so the discs begin to shrink and lose their shape. When the disc becomes smaller the space between the vertebrae decreases and become narrower. Also, as the disc loses water content the disc itself becomes less flexible.

While aging, excess weight, improper lifting and the decrease in water in the discs all contribute to the breaking down of discs, the primary cause of a herniation or bluge is uneven compression and torsion that's placed on the discs.

This uneven pressure is caused by imbalances in muscles that pull the spine out of its normal position and then your body is forced to function in what I call a physical dysfunction. Every human being develops these dysfunctions over time and eventually they cause enough damage to create pain.

The best treatment options

When it comes to treating a herniated disc, there are traditional treatments such as ice/heat, ultrasound, electrical stimulation, cortisone injections, anti-inflammatory medications and even surgery. While these may deliver some relief, it will usually be temporary if at all.

But the major problem with these traditional treatments is that they can't fix or heal a herniated disc as they do not address the actual cause of the problem. For example, even if you were to have a surgery and get some pain relief, the fact is the dysfunctions that caused the disc to herniated in the first place are still there and if not addressed, they will continue to place uneven pressure and strain on the discs and sooner or later you will likely have another problem with that disc, or others.

Without identifying and addressing the underlying cause of the problem, which is the physical dysfunctions caused by imbalances in muscles, you will likely continue to suffer with this condition and the continuous flare ups for years.
Unfortunately, most doctors, chiropractors and physical therapists don't spend time or focus on identifying the physical dysfunctions that are responsible for the condition so most people end up jumping from one useless traditional treatment to the next and suffer for months or years unnecessarily.

If you have been diagnosed with a herniated disc, or are wondering if your back pain may be caused by a herniated disc, either way you must identify and address the physical dysfunctions that are causing your pain as part of your recovery.


7 Minutes to a Sultry Back

 Instead of sitting on your behind, hop off the couch and do these simple butt-firming exercises. Along with shaping your glutes, the two toning moves will strengthen the erector spinae muscles that run up and down along your spinal column, and the stretch will maintain flexibility in your back.

Together, this trio will give your rear a lift, improve your posture and may help prevent back pain. Do these exercises at least three days a week to look firmer from behind in as little as six weeks. Come springtime, you'll slip into a pair of shorts with confidence.


Plank Lift

A. Balance on forearms and toes keeping head and neck in a straight line with back. Contract abs so belly doesn't sag toward floor, and tuck pelvis so butt doesn't stick up.


B. Raise right leg 6 to 12 inches, squeezing glutes. Hold for 3 to 5 seconds. Lower and repeat with left leg. Do 8 to 10 reps with each leg, maintaining plank position the entire time.


Bonus benefit: For a flatter belly, tighten your abs while performing each exercise.


Kneel with hands positioned directly beneath shoulders and knees beneath hips. Keep head and neck in line with spine and abs tight. Simultaneously raise right arm straight out in front and left leg behind you.


Keeping arm and leg parallel to floor, press arm out to side as you pull leg forward, as shown. Hold for 3 to 5 seconds, then move arm and leg back and lower them. Repeat with opposite arm and leg. Do 8 to 10 reps on each side.

Back Stretch

Prolonged sitting can cause stiffness in your lower back. Counteract it by practicing this stretch daily. Hug both knees to chest and raise head and shoulders off floor. Hold for 15 seconds, breathing deeply. Release and repeat.


There are two parts to these exercises

Part one on this page futures exercises for the legs, arms, and shoulders below. The second part two of these exercises can be seen on the flexibility and exercise page 

you can click here to seeChest and back

LEGS: The legs are the biggest mucsles in the human body ; they comprise of the quadriceps(front),hamstrings (back ), and calves mainly.Diagram below:



 Stand with feet hip- or shoulder-width apart; Place the barbell just above the shoulders on the trapezius muscles ,  use a bar pad to protect your back.

 Bend the knees and lower into a squat. Stop when your knees are at 90-degree angles OR before you lose the natural arch of your back.

 Contract the glutes and legs while stabilizing your body with a strong torso.Exhale while pushing up and inhale going 6-8 reps for strength,

8-12 for size and over 12 for definition


These exercises are mainly good for the quads, glutes and hamstrings. Some may find them harder than squats and as such are advised to do them first,

for advanced trainers they can alternate between the excersise order


Stand in an upright position keeping your shoulders up and pulled back ; holding two dumbbells take one step foward as seen in the diagram stooping

down until the knee of the  leg behind almost touches the floor; step back up to the start position. Another way to do this if you have problems with technique

is to kneel down on the ground and place two dumbbells on either side on the floor; pick them up and start from there but make sure your knee does not touch

 the ground throughout the repetitions


These are very good for people that are trying to avoid flexion of the back for a number of reasons; could be that they have spinal injuries or they are

not too familiar with the correct form; it reduces bending at the hip and is good forworking the quads, glutes and inner thighs.

Stand with your feet wider than shoulder width; externally rotate the feet so that they are facing outwards( make sure you're comfortable though);

hold a dumbbell between your legs ;looking straight ahead to avoid bending foward, squat down so that the dumbbell touches the floor if possible;

return to start position; inhale going down and exhale while coming up.Repeat 6-8 times for strenght, 8-12 for size and over 12 for definition.


These are excellent exercises for the glutes, hamstrings and lower back

Stand in a regular deadlift position, keep your shoulders back ,head up and back as straight as possible; grab a bar and bend over so that the bar

comes close to the floor but does not touch, keep a slight bend in your knees to relieve the stress on your lower back;come back up to the start position.

Note thet this could be  a dangerous exercise if not done correctly or with too heavy weights.

Do 6-8 reps for strength, 8-12 for size, and more than 12 for definition.

Caution: Don't round the upper, middle, or lower back.


This muscles are described by men as the "EGO BOOSTER" as many of them like the idea of having massive arms with definition. Women are more

interested in getting rid of the flabby triceps that appears with age (normally refered to as the turkey wings).Two main parts of the arm are the biceps and


Here are the different muscles of the arms:


BICEPS: Forms one third of the upper arm



Bicep Hammer curls: These should be done standing straight up, the upper hands and body should be in a staight plane throughout the exercise;curl the weights

upwards to shoulder level, sqeezing the biceps at the top of the rep; repeat with the other arm alternating from ane arm to the next.

Bicep curls with an ez bar ( Curtesy shape fit)

                                             EZ bar  :  EZ bar curl

This exercise targets the bicep muscle  . Position your palms in a position that allows them to face each other on a easy bar; curl up the bar to shoulder level and squeeze thatbiceps at the

top; lower to start and repeat. Note that this exercise can be done with a straight bar as well to get a bit of a variation.


Seated on an incline bench, keep shoulders square and head up; hold two dumbbells in either hand on each side;keep elbows straight; slowly curl dumbbells up to shouldeer level squeezing

the biceps at the top; lower the weight and repeat. Do 6-8 reps for strength, 8-12 for size and over 12 for definition.

TRICEPS: The second and larger part of the upper arm . This muscle forms  two thirds of the upper arm.


Lying Tricep ExtensionsSkull Crushers

LYING TRICEP OVERHEAD EXTENSIONS ( SKULL CRUSHERS): From a seated position lift a bar and assume a lying position as shown in the picture above; with the bar directly

above your face lower the bar untill it comes about 2 inches from your forehead; press the bar back up to the start position. Note that it is important to use a full range of motion to fully

engage the triceps, Use a spotter if possible.


Overhead Tricep ExtensionsOverhead Tricep Extensions

Seated on a bench lift up an EZ bar above your head ; keep the elbows straight; lower the bar behind your head until your hands are just above shoulder level; when you feel a stretch

in your triceps , push the bar back up to start position.

Caution: Do not use a bar that is too heavy for you and if you have back problems, do not do this exercise, if you must use a bench with back support.


Take a few steps back from the machine and using an overhand grip, space your hands on the bar slightly less than shoulder-with apart. You can also perform this movement with one foot in front of the other if it feels more comfortable. Lean forward and start with the bar touching your forehead. With force, drive the weight down to your waist by extending your elbows. Make sure to keep your elbows close to your sides at all times. Once you have locked your elbows out at the bottom, squeeze your triceps and then return the bar back to the starting position by touching your forehead.


Coutesy shape fit

Different human body systems

 This is a series of Human body systems courtesy of human anatomy online,

Click on each one individualy and then use the mouse to get a guided tour

and description of each system:

Skeletal                Digestive              Muscular              Lymphatic            Endocrine        

 Skeletal          Digestive         Muscular          Lymphatic           Endocrine

Nervous             Cardiovascular      Male reproductive   female reproductive   Urinary

Nervous        Cardiovascular            Male Reproductive               Female Reproductive              Urinary


Different body types for human beings


Features include:

Large bones and joints,slow metabolism,high fat  percentage,overweight,

'thick' body type


Features include:

Broad shoulders,medium waistline,average to quick metabolism,

relatively lower body weight than endomorphs, average body fat,

athletic looking.


Features include:

Long bones,smaller joints,very fast metabolism,low body fat percent,

underweight,thin in appearance.

Exercise should be individualized to suit the particular person.

Use of concentric (muscle shortening), eccentric (muscle lengthening)

and isometric (no change in muscle length) can be combined to get the

desired effects. Flexibility exercises i.e stretching should also be included

in a well rounded exercise program preferably during the cool down phase

when the muscles are warm and more responsive to a stretch stimulus



STATRTING WITH THE SHOULDERS: These are the most complicated of all the joints in the body, is very fragile and needs extra attention

while exercising.The shoulder muscles are shown here:

Anatomy: Muscles of the Shoulder



ARNOLD SHOULDER PRESSES: Hold two dumbbells at shoulder level with palms facing each other;raise the arms in a rotating manner so that when you are at the top of the

press your palms  are facingaway from you ( i.e abduct and externaly rotate arms as shown above ), lower the weight the same way and repeat. Do 6-8 reps for strength,

8-12 fror size and over 12 for definition. Note: keep back straight and avoid hitting dumbbells together.


CUBAN SHOULDER PRESSES: Stand with feet shoulder width apart; hold two dumbbells downwards with palms facing behing you(as shown in pic); lift up dumbbells while

rotating shoulders externaly. Repeat. Careful not to rotate so far behind shoulder level at the top of the movement


REVERSE FLYES: These exercises specifically target the rear delts with a little bit of the side delts as well.

lay on an incline bench as shown above ,let the top of the bench touch your chest  hold two dumbbells by either side; keep your back flat and avoid dropping your head;

raise the dumbbells out to the sides making sure that your hands stay perpendicular to the bench through the movement ;keep a slight bend in your elbows and move your

arms up in an arc motion; tey to get the dumbbells to the same position with your head at the top of the movement. lower the weights to the start position and repeat.


ABDOMINALS: These muscles are important in providing stability for the body and in prevention of lower back pain. The muscles of the abdominals are shown:


As shown above the abdominals comprise of Various parts; there is the rectus abdominus which is the top and middle part of the abs; obliques which are the sides and

comprise of the outer and inner; transverse abdominus are deep abdominals and are basically a stabilizing part of the mid section; there is also the lower abdominals which

also act as stabilizing muscles.


Abdominal crunches. Lay on the ground with your legs bent and your feet flat. Do not pull from your arms, keep your focus on your abdominal muscles. Remember, this is an abdominal crunch not a sit up.
2. Keep your abdominal muscles tight, neck straight and chest up.
3. From your sternum, crunch your weight up and forward.
4. Your lower back should remain flat on the ground at all times.
5. Under control, lower your weight, stop just before your shoulders touch the ground and reverse the motion back up.

Abdominal over head raises :

Lie on your back on the floor with your feet flat on the ground and your knees bent. Stretch your arms straight out over your head. Crunch your upper body forward and bring your shoulder blades just off the floor. Slowly lower down to the original start position and repeat. Remember to squeeze your abs tight throughout the motion.




Air Bike

Lie on your back and put your hands behind your head. Raise your legs so your thighs are perpendicular and your lower legs are just above parallel to the floor.

Curl up and bring your left elbow toward your right side while drawing your right knee in to meet it.  Alternate sides, continuing the motion back and forth; actually rotate your shoulder across and squeeze your abs.



Alternate heel touches

Works your obliques. In order to complete 1 repetition, each heel must be touched once.  Lie down on the floor. Bend your knees and keep your feet 18-24 inches apart. Keep your arms straight down at your sides.

 Crunch forward and up about 3-4 inches. Remember to keep your lower back pressed flat against the ground. Keep your head in a neutral position. Alternate touching your right heel and then your left heel.

 Remember, touching each heel once is one rep!Repeat



Hanging Leg Raise

Hang from a bar with your legs straight down. Raise your legs by flexing your hips while flexing your knees until your hips are fully flexed. Continue to raise knees toward shoulders by flexing your waist.

Do NOT swing and use momentum. Go slow and concentrate on using your abs to pull your legs up. Return to the starting position. Repeat. You can place weight between your ankles for added resistance.

You can also raise your knees to one side of your body to work the obliques.


     Flat Bench Lying Leg Raise

 Works your lower abs. Place a light weight between your feet if you can. Lie flat on a bench with your legs off the end. Place your hands under your butt with your palms down. Keep your legs as straight

as possible and your knees locked. Raise your legs as high as possible. Lower legs back down as far as they can go.



Take a few moments to peruse the link below where you will find some very usefull 3D images and

movies that are very educative and resourseful in enhancing your knowledge of human anatomy

and related areas. There are also quizes that you can take part in with the use of your mouse ,simply

point to the body part you are interested in and guess the answer before clicking on it to confirm.

Have fun !!



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