3 Ways to Fix Lower Back Pain

Posted: August 23, 2013 by dannytwoguns in Articles, Personal Training

One of the most common ailments I come across in new clients and people I talk to is some form of lower back issue/discomfort/pain. Whether it’s a person who sits too much, stands too much, does stupid stuff in the gym, had a previous injury or any number of reasons, there is essentially a 100% chance you know of someone who has lower back pain if you don’t have it yourself. And I can help.

Let me start with the fact that I am indeed, not a doctor. Handsome, smart and successful? Yes. Doctor? No.:)

The following assumes that the client has passed the Functional Movement Screen without pain and/or has been cleared by a physician to exercise. With that said, even completely healthy people experience lower back discomfort or pain and the following is for all the aforementioned.

There used to be a trainer at Nautilus who was the “healthy back trainer” and everything he did was on a machine. This is an awful approach for a couple reasons. One is that while the client could successfully do those exercises pain free, not only did it do nothing to strengthen the issue that was causing the pain but that very machine exercise is likely just feeding into whatever dysfunction is causing the issue.

So to start, if you yourself or a trainer is having you do machines to help your back issues… either stop doing what you are doing or hire another trainer.

Now, here are three things we are doing over at Twoguns Training Systems to alleviate any issues of back pain.

Mobility Work

I wont put a specific number on it but we’ve found more times than not for those experiencing lower back pain, it is because of a mobility restriction somewhere else in the chain. The lower back/lumbar spine isn’t mean for a lot of mobility, it is an area meant for stability. And when areas that are meant for mobility, say above or below it (think hips and shoulders) don’t have that mobility, it is going to have to come from somewhere else, usually an area above or below it, usually one not meant for mobility ie lower back. Thus the answer is pain. But as Lenny Paracino said in Long Beach, “Stop only treating the victim and find the criminal.”

We use the FMS to give us an accurate indicator of where the mobility restriction is potentially coming from…

There is an upper body mobility test (shoulder mobility)…

Shoulder Mobility

And a lower body mobility test (active straight leg raise)…


…that give us a good view of whether or not there are mobility dysfunctions that need addressed. When someone is having lower back issues, one of those is usually dysfunctional, if not both. If that’s the case we have a series of corrective exercises that are incorporated into programs to fix that dysfunction. If there aren’t any mobility issues and there are back issues, then we move on to the other two…

Anterior Core Stability

Anterior core meaning the front side of the core also known as “abz brah.” If mobility isn’t the issue than stability usually is and if that’s the case, we usually find a weakness in the front side of core. There are two main approaches. One is for the client who is “flexion based” which tends to be the people who sit a lot and the second is for the client who is “extension based” which tends to be the people who stand a lot.

As in line with new and current training methods, we really don’t do much, if any, spinal flexion exercises (ie crunches). Which seem to be the most popular core exercise. So what do we do?

We do things that resist either spinal extension (anti-extension) like a plank…

Core Plank

Things that resist spinal rotation (anti-rotation) like a side plank…

Core Side Plank

Or exercises that do both at once like a Lateral Bag Drag with the Ultimate Sandbag…


We also throw in some exercises that incorporate anti-lateral flexion, like suitcase carries or waiters walks. And a note – none of these are done if there is pain present during them. There are regressions to everything. If you find discomfort in one of those, come find me and I will help you out.

And lastly…

The Posterior Core

Or more specifically, the booty. When people hear the term core, they automatically think of the six pack muscles of the abs. But it is far more than that, one aspect of which are the glutes. A lot has been said about “activating the glutes” and whether one does or doesn’t put merit in that, most would agree that teaching people how to use their glutes when they need to be used to great for any function and a common alleviation to those with lower back discomfort. Learn to use them rather than sit on them is usually the first step for a lot of clients.

We do a couple “glute activation” exercises in our RAMP/warmup like glute bridge, fire hydrants or lateral band walks that begins to awken or strengthen the glutes or for some clients those exercises are part of the actual workout. Sometimes, it is simply teaching the client “how” to use their glutes by “cracking the walnut,” “pinching the penny” or whatever you want to call it and they teach themselves because they have newfound stability.

Other times it is teaching the progressions of the squat, hinge and unilateral lower body patterns as “glute centric” exercises and giving a more complete approach to their lower body that helps as well.

That’s the broad version and starting point for what we do at Twoguns Training Systems to help with lower back discomfort. If you have any questions or need more info, don’t hesitate to contact me here or on Facebook.

  1. Jack Lee says:

    I think these work outs have really helped me. I have had a sore shoulder, hip, and back for several years until now. With a steady diet of two guns and palates, I feel better than I have in quite some time. At 54 years of age I honestly think I am in very good condition. My back and joint pains are very minimal and still losing weight steady as she goes. Jack Lee.

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