This is a great article and resource on core training and back pain. Core training can help rid you of back pain or prevent it from starting. this could have helped a few friends from a blown back and painful back surgery a few years ago.
HOW TO FLATTEN YOUR ABS
AND GET RID OF BACK PAIN
WITH CORE TRAINING
By Tom Venuto
By now, you're probably familiar with "core training" or you've at least heard the term used on TV or in various fitness publications. Your "core" refers not just to the abdominals, but your entire trunk musculature, including those deep muscles you can't even see (like the Transversus Abdominis, or TVA)."
Why should you care about muscles you can't even see? That's a question I would have asked many years ago in my early competitive bodybuilding days, but now I've learned better. And the answer is, among other reasons, to eliminate back pain.
Back pain is one of the biggest complaints of men today of ALL ages, and many women suffer from it well, especially during and after pregnancy. You see, a weak core, combined with other problems such as tightness in certain muscle groups, lousy form and poor selection of exercises is one of the leading causes of lower back pain. The good news is that it's largely preventable with a few easy exercises.
There's more... your core is also the seat of power for your entire body. If you're an athlete - recreational or competitive - core strength means better performance on the playing field. If you're a non-athlete, greater core strength means more efficient and safer performance of regular, day to day activities. If you know anyone who blew out their back lifting boxes or simply doing work around the house, you know what I'm talking about.
The reason I'm mentioning core training today is because David Grisaffi recently sent me a review copy of his new e-book, "Firm And Flatten Your Abs". I just finished reading it and testing out some of his workouts, and I have to admit, David put together a very unique program. This is the first time in a long time that I've seen an abdominal course that's not centered on the usual sit ups and crunches. In fact, there's not a single sit up in the entire course.
David included quite a bit of nutrition info in his book too, but in my opinion, the real strong point is the core training info and the 7 routines, which progress from beginner up to "athlete" level. Some of the exercises are a lot more challenging than they look in the pictures. You have to try them to appreciate them. Many of them can be done with just your body weight. Others require a stability ball (swiss ball), and a handful can be done with a cable apparatus you'd find in any gym.
In the last few years, I've begun incorporating a lot more swiss ball work in my ab routines. Being a "muscle head" bodybuilder, I have to admit I was a little hesitant to start using the ball, and to be honest, I never really had any trouble getting good abs, but the ball and core work has definitely made a difference in the ab department. The real benefit though, was the increase in my core strength and trunk stability and a decrease in low back pain.
About 15 years ago, I was diagnosed with a ruptured disk (L4), and at one point a neurosurgeon told me I should never lift more than 40 pounds and I would eventually need surgery. I laughed in his face about the not lifting more than 40 pounds part (okay, so I laughed silently… but I did laugh... no one takes my weights away from me!)
Fortunately, I was able to rehab my own back without ever going under the knife, thanks to a ton of flexibility work and some intelligent abdominal training. Still, the pain would return from time to time when I got a little cocky and slapped too much weight on the bar. Once you rupture a disk, you can rehab to a remarkable degree, but it's something you always have to be cautious about.
Anyway, in the last few years since I started to use core training methods and not just the traditional "bodybuilding-style" routines, I've seen a greater improvement in my lower low back than ever before. If you haven't started doing any ball work or core training yourself, I would definitely urge you to look into it. David's new eBook is one source for info on the subject definitely worth checking out. Here's the link to his site: Flatten Your Abs