Say goodbye to back pain with Nathalie Lacombe


Eighty percent of people will encounter back pain at some point in the lives. For some it passes but for others it lingers and often restricts their movement and complicates their lives. To help with this Aspira welcomes back Nathalie Lacombe to our webinar stage to hopefully sooth and/or cure your back pain depending on its severity.

Nathalie is vice president of the Fitness Council of Canada and was Canfitpro’s recipient of the Presenter of the Year award. She passionately connects with those trying to improve their physical, mental and immune health while blending 25 years of international work experience with degrees in psychology and exercise science.

With back pain being so common it’s helpful to understand the different types. Any back pain that lasts longer than six weeks is considered to be chronic back pain while shorter bouts is temporary back pain. Research also suggests that the older we get, the more we are at risk of developing back pain.


You have a higher risk of developing back pain if you:
Don’t get enough exercise
Are overweight or obese
Have serious diseases like cancer or arthritis
Have been lifting incorrectly over a long period


Our spine
The shape of our spine can tell us a lot about the health of our back. A healthy spine has a natural S shape. When we hunch over subconsciously this creates another, unhealthy and damaging S shape on our spine. Nathalie offered up a method of avoiding the unhealthy S shape. “A way to combat this is to stand up straight, keep the top of your head pointing at the ceiling, and keeping your ears over your shoulders. Once in this position lift your rib cage up from your waist just a few millimeters,” she said. This will help you achieve a healthier stance for your spine.

Lower back
A healthy lower back is one that is stable but mobile. Exercising the inner and outer thigh muscles correctly will strengthen this area and help to place the pelvis in a safe position. Additionally we tend to forget that the powerhouse for the lower back is our gluteal muscle or bum muscles said Lacombe. “Glutes are very impactful when it comes to the stability and the mobility of our backs. They have the ability to be strong but also stretchable, that really has an impact on how a lower back can be.”

You should look at your core as a belt around your midsection. “The core is not just about the abdominals, it’s about our back muscles too on the waist line,” said Lacombe. “It’s also not just about the muscles we see in the mirror. In fact, the muscles that are most critical to back pain and also protect our vital organs, they are the ones you won’t see in the mirror. They are not part of a six pack and the closest muscles we have to our spine.” Lacombe recommends exercises like “the plank” and squats to work these crucial muscles. She also insists that back health is “not about doing a million exercises” but more so about “being mindful about the position of your back when standing and sitting.

A healthy seated posture
When sitting in a chair for a long period Nathalie advises to put something under your feet, a yoga block perhaps, to support your back or squeeze a soft object down beside your lower back if you prefer keeping your feet grounded. This will help to keep your spine aligned in its natural curves. Lacombe warns against crossing your legs while sitting as this can reduce mobility and aggravate various back conditions. If you are seated in one place it is also very beneficial to stand up regularly.

Standing posture
Here Nathalie emphasizes the importance of not slouching and being balanced from the feet to the crown of the head. To see the incorrect and correct postures for both sitting and standing please watch the webinar for images and demonstrations by Nathalie herself. A healthy standing posture will have an equal distribution of weight on each foot and also needs that abdominal girdle or belt to be activated as Lacombe already mentioned above. By this she means that we are keeping our abdominal belt tight but not so tight that it would impede a natural breath. “Keep the cylinder or belt at a place where you can still breathe and you aren’t clenching. You are just aware of that abdominal belt,” Nathalie said.

Walking posture
Lacombe recommends using the appropriate footwear to improve your walking posture. This also includes walking barefoot sometimes. “Is it a good idea to be barefoot sometimes and be mindful of the position of our feet? Yes. A perfect place to do it is in the sand. Play with your feet in the sand and find those natural arches that are meant to be there.” A good running shoe is not the same as a good running shoe. Good walking shoes should have arch and ankle support as well as even cushioning, according to Nathalie.

She urged all to walk regularly and added that walking is “as close to the fountain of youth as you are going to get.” Lacombe recommends ten minutes everyday rather than 60-70 minutes once a week. “It’s the best vitamin out there. Frequency and consistency is the key with walking” said Nathalie. Walking is good therapy for back pain. Moving helps to lubricate the joints and as Nathalie said “motion is lotion”. Accelerating and using the cadence of the arms can help to take pressure off the lower back.

Lifting posture
Lifting objects off the ground can be harmful to your back if you perform the lift incorrectly. If you are constantly lifting incorrectly over a long period of time this can result in chronic back pain. Nathalie advises us to lift with your legs not your back. “You want the weight to be in your legs, if what you are lifting is very low to the ground and squatting down that far is a problem, have something nearby to hold on to,” said Lacombe.

Lifting and turning at the same time is also dangerous for back health so twist and rotate with caution. “Lift first and then rotate,” Lacombe advised. Shovelling your driveway after a long break of not doing it can cause damage by twisting your body as you lift. People tend to do this because they want to get the chore over and done with. Nathalie said you should take your time and save yourself some back pain.


Exercises to care for your back
Flat/round back or “cat-cow pose” in yoga, done seated or standing
Lateral flexion
Knees to chest
Windshield wipers


If you want to see these exercises being performed by Nathalie please do so by clicking the webinar link


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