So how do we fix it?
1) Check to see if you’ve got adequate thoracic spine and shoulder mobility – Read this previous article I wrote and use the standing overhead wall test
Then… fix said crappy mobility.
2) Assess your core stability with the FMS Core Stability Pushup test
Were you able to complete the pushup with your thumbs at your eye level without your lower back arching? If not then fix your core stability.
***There are literally hundreds of exercises you could use to fix this. The important thing to keep in mind is that you’re going to have to learn how to keep a neutral spine position (aka keep your lower back from extending excessively) when pressing.
3. Learn How to Press Properly
Here is a video of me trying my damndest to press with lumbar curve held in overextension.
Fixing the Push Press.
We want to start and finish each repetition with a neutral spine. We also want to try and keep the spine neutral throughout the entire press. Do your best to keep the ribcage down throughout the lift.
A note about heavy lifts: During very heavy lifts it’s natural to want to try and get a bigger curve in the lumbar spine in order to put some of the larger more powerful muscles of the pectorals into use. Although this is definitely helpful in moving more weight, it’s also going to create that nasty excessive lumbar curve.
For athletes where overhead press numbers are important for your sport (especially log press in strongman) it’s helpful to really squeeze your glutes and bring your hips forward as you press the weight overhead to create some spinal stability.
For the regular Joe’s out there, just lighten the load, keep your torso more upright and keep your spine in a neutral position during the entire lift.
Putting it all together:
There it is guys. When we think about low back pain the first thing that usually comes to mind is the lower back rounding during deadlifts and squats. Hopefully this opened your mind to other causes of back pain that we should be aware of at the gym.
Just a quick reminder to keep the weights light enough so that you can keep your technique together.
Go Press a Boulder Overhead,
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The Ultimate Guide to Getting Out of Shoulder Pain and Back to Bench Press, Overhead Press and Olympic Lifts
Causes of Pain in the Front of the Shoulder When Pressing and How to Fix It
The Best Exercises To Get Out of Low Back Pain and Back to Training
6 Causes of Extension Based Lower Back Pain in the Gym
The Ultimate Guide to Getting Out of Low Back Pain and Back to Squatting, Deadlifting and Olympic Lifts
How to Modify Squats for Painful Knees and Lower Backs
6 Step Guide to Prevent and Fix Extension Based Lower Back Pain (Part 2)
Push Press 101: Why is Overhead Pressing Hurting My Lower Back? Part 1