Nearly 80 percent of Americans suffer lower back pain at some point in their lives.  We like to blame this discomfort on our age, our bed or on the fact that we’re on our feet a lot.  Well, considering the fact that we can’t stop getting older, sleeping or walking, we’ve got to find a way to be proactive about eliminating lower back pain. 

Granted, back pain can be a complex condition, but its prevention (and cure) can sometimes be as simple as a few exercises and stretches.  In fact, since I opened LEAN, I have heard more testimony about “healed” lower backs than any other exercise-recovered injury.

Why do so many of us experience this pain?  It’s largely due to our sedentary lives and our lack of proper movement and posture.  When we sit at a desk, computer, television, etc., we tend to drop into a poor posture of slumping shoulders, rounded back and flexed hips.  Because we earn a living and take in entertainment at this posture, we spend a lot of time reinforcing it.  Our bodies, essentially, learn to take on this form, which shortens pectoral (chest) muscles, weakens posterior shoulder muscles, weakens back and glute muscles and shortens hip flexors. 

Basically, we take on this “bent over” posture and it breeds lower back pain. 

What can we do to prevent this?  We have to stretch and strengthen.  Try these exercises...

For the shoulders: 

  • Bend your elbows to 90 degrees and raise them to shoulder height.  Slowly draw them behind you and strengthen the back of the shoulder.  These muscles keep your shoulders in good posture.
  • Now, stretch that same area by raising your hand as if to take an oath.  Press your elbow against a post or wall and turn the opposite direction so that you stretch that particular side of the chest. 
  • Our goal here is to lessen the tension pulling from the front of the shoulder (the chest) and strengthen the muscles pulling from behind the shoulder.

Next month, we’ll talk more about back pain and address specific exercises and stretches for the lower back, itself.

Jeff Howerton is a trainer and owner of LEAN personal training, where he and his trainers work with clients to lose fat, develop lean muscle and implement strategies for healthier living. 


This program consists of TWO (or THREE) Fast and Fit sessions per week at $30 per session. Each session includes 15 minutes of cardio and 30 minutes of resistance training with a LEAN personal trainer. The program lasts one month, but clients who take advantage of this are welcome to continue at the same rate if they wish to do so.

In addition to helping develop an exercise routine, a LEAN trainer will offer some basic nutritional guidelines that will help meet personal goals, as well as offer testing on flexibility and strength.

The 4 WEEK FITNESS can begin any day. In order to learn more or schedule a session, please contact Jeff at (615) 279-1900 or

Coffee Time

Would you like to talk with us about your exercise routine?  One of our trainers at LEAN would be happy to talk with you over a cup of coffee.  We can help you with designing your fitness program, as well as explain more about how the LEAN functional training philosophy works. Just call (615) 279-1900 or email to schedule.

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