Care for your lower back: 4 things you can do.

About 4 years ago I took a class and at one point, the class participants had to perform some form of baseball slide on a mat. Run and go prone on a mat. I was up, ran and with speed hit the mat prone. Mid- way into my slide, I felt pain shooting from my lower back. I played it cool but, was a bit concerned. After moving around a bit, I knew for sure that I needed to take a break from physical activity for, at least a few weeks. Getting home was a pain; Couldn’t walk fast and I couldn’t sit. On the bus ride home I quickly got to thinking about how to take care of this. Here are a few things that I did to help diminish pain and help accelerate the healing process.


1: Go horizontal- and when vertical, try standing as opposed to sitting. As soon as I got to my place, I just needed to lay on the floor with my knees bent and feet flat on the floor. I had hyper extended the lower back during the slide and to give more detail, I had a stiff low back to begin with. When I needed to send e-mails, I was standing most of the time. I could not sit for extended periods of time.


2: About a week later, I was feeling better and started mobilizing the low back. It was easiest to start lightly rotating. I was laying down again and for this movement, It just required me dropping my bent legs side to side. I later progressed with picking up my feet having the thigh perpendicular and lower leg parallel to the ground and dropping the legs side to side. This improves the R.O.M. (Range of motion) but also has an added benefit of working the internal and external obliques.


3: Flexion and extension of the low back. I tried sitting after a couple of weeks and it wasn’t as bothersome. So I started to mobilize the back in a different way with the abdominal curl up. Have your feet grounded and back on the pad so that you are in an incline position. As you come up, think about peeling off of the mat- trying to leave the lower back on as long as possible. When you are seated, get tall through your spine before coming back down. Keep in mind, get tall but do not over extend! When you come down, act as if you are rolling out a carpet with your spine, one vertebrae meeting the mat (L-5,L-4,L-3, etc.) The abdominal curl up from the sit-up bench will help facilitate movement of the spine because your spine will be flexing and extending. Through this move try to keep the feet grounded.


4: Side bend w/ Reach. I like doing this against the wall because I have an easier time making sure I’m not overworking my lower back and can concentrate on the quadratus lumborum contracting on one side and stretching on the other. This movement happens through the frontal plane; a plane, for most of us, don’t get a whole lot of movement through. Get your back against a wall and contract the abdominals. Your heel will be about 1 foot away from the wall. Next, bend your torso to the right while maintaining contact with the wall. As you continue to laterally flex to the right, get your left arm to reach over head. When you bend to the left, you will reach overhead with your right arm.

As wIth anything, if you feel any discomfort and it gets worse, STOP! Also, do not rush through it. Some movements might be a bit too advanced if you just recently sustained an injury.

Start out slow and eventually try aiming for 3 sets of 15 repetitions of all the movements.

More from John:

Meet March’s Member of the Month – John!

John Williams ZUM Fitness


Back when you first joined ZUM, what made you decide you wanted or needed to join a gym? 

It was a dark summer night when I found myself in the back of an ambulance on Rte 2 in Leavenworth. I couldn’t feel my fingers, my blood pressure was 180/120 – it was pretty scary. I’d been a “bucket of stress” for some time. My mother had recently passed away; one of my long-time employees had just left my company heightening an already stressful work environment; I was striving to be super dad, super husband, and super boss simultaneously. I thought I was doing everything I was “supposed” to do, but by putting everyone else first, I wasn’t taking care of myself at all. And there I was with my body essentially shut down on itself.  Gratefully, I ended up being totally ok.

When I returned to Seattle, I took a mental inventory of what I needed to do to fix how I was ignoring self-care. I decided to walk downstairs from my office and check out ZUM. I’d never been much of a gym guy. I was more of weekend warrior skiing and cycling. But I needed to make an investment in my health and be pushed a little at the gym. I joined and started making appointments with myself to go to classes. If I didn’t, it was too easy to succumb to client requests for noon-time meetings. I started saying “no” to my clients, and you know what? They were able to make other times work and the sky didn’t fall. So, I made it to my classes, and they kicked my ass for about 3 months. It was worth it though, because you can’t just bear stress, you’ve got to get it out!

Since joining ZUM, what results have you achieved?  

Overall, better health and sanity! Working out is routine now. I miss it when I can’t do it. I miss feeling sore (in a good way) and the stress release. I’ve also really improved my mobility and strength which has had positive chain reaction helping improve back pain and other body ailments I’ve had to work through.

What do you like best about ZUM?

It’s really hard to say. If I had to pick one thing, it’d have to be the coaches. They’re so much more than employees at a gym; they’re my peers. They’ll email with me outside of class to make sure I’m  feeling supported, answer questions, listen to feedback, and share life. A close second are the people – the members. There’s a great camaraderie that develops from a shared experience in class. We’re all going through the same “pain” at the same time.

What would you say to someone who is new to ZUM or considering joining?

You’ll work hard, but you’ll feel good. And like ZUM’s tagline says, “it’s good to feel good.” I love that!

What’s a fun fact about you we may not know? 

Last year I successfully navigated the Pond Skim Challenge at Stevens Pass. It was awesome to cross that off my bucket list. Next up is to ring a cowbell at a European ski event.

What’s your guilty pleasure?

I really enjoy craft beers.

Do you have a favorite ZUM class?

Derek’s Xcelerate on Mondays at noon. I always have a standing appointment with myself for that one!

Is there anything else you’d like to share about your ZUM experience?

ZUM has had such an impact on my life, that it played a big role in choosing to renew my office lease in the building. That’s saying something coming from a someone who was never a gym guy.

Get to Know the ZUM Team – John

traine, team , ZUM, John Gracia


It seems impossible that it’s been almost 5 years since you joined the ZUM team! How did you first come to ZUM?


Well, I met Joe in a bar and the rest is history.


Wait, what?! That was not what I was expecting to hear!


Ok, there’s a little more context to it than that. It was a young professionals networking event at a bar. We chatted, connected talking about New York, and exchanged info. I came and checked out ZUM. The summer of 2012 I participated in an internship with Brian and Elia and was hired from that.


What’s been your favorite thing about working at ZUM?


Working at ZUM has fostered self-growth that will help me the rest of my life, both professionally and personally.


What about the most rewarding part?


The unexpected appreciation from clients and members. I’d loved receiving an email or having conversation where they’d express how grateful they were to be able to do the things they wanted to do. I could be having a really lousy day, but that would always lift me up.


Do you have any funny stories from your time here?


Ha! Well, one time in the men’s locker room after a shower, I was in my towel and realized I’d left all my clothes in the trainers’ room. I had no choice but to leave the locker room and run back there in my towel. Luckily it was a quiet Saturday, so I didn’t get caught. That was the last time I made that mistake.


That’s too funny! So, what’s next for you, John?


To be honest, I need to take time and do some mental healing. Ever since I arrived in Seattle years ago, it’s been non-stop hustling. I got an apartment, got a gig, met Joe, came to ZUM and did the internship which I was determined to get one of the 2 house trainer positions from, so I busted my butt showing my dedication by going to a ton of classes like 5th Element with Elia and Brian. Then I had to work hard to build my business. The only vacations I took were to plan my wedding, so it was just a different kind of work. I burned myself out, so there’s nothing on the immediate agenda. I need to rest, take care of myself, process everything and figure out what’s next.


Do you have any parting words of wisdom for our members?


Don’t miss out on opportunities to connect and have a relationship with someone. Tell people how you feel. It’s ok to express yourself; it’s not weak. Put yourself out there and be vulnerable – let people know they’ve had a positive impact on your life. It’s a waste not to.