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New Player - Back Pain During Lessons

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    Posted: 01/06/2020 at 2:22pm
Hello,

I have recently started taking lessons, coming from very little experience. I'm in my mid-30s, am of average/thin build and spend my day at a computer in an office. My only physical activity is playing TT at lunch with my coworkers.

I decided to take lessons. One of the first things identified was I stand very straight and am planted. My coach wants me to go on the balls of my feet, bending my knees and at the hips. Halfway through my 1-hour lesson, I start to get pain in my lower back.

I am looking for any training advice. I have a weekly lesson and am looking for things I can do daily to improve my back and my ability to be on the balls, so that I can remain in that position longer, and be quicker with my feet.

Thank you!
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (1) Thanks(1)   Quote stiltt Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 01/06/2020 at 2:45pm
A few people in their 50s with back pain started yoga and they said the core strength they gained made the back pain go away. I am not sure how long it takes but it is sustainable as long as we put in the hours and commitment. I never had back pain and I am ready to start if it comes.
 
The only problem I have with yoga are the nut jobs polluting me with their perception of what my spiritual experience should be, those give me the cringe.

I suppose Pilates would do the same in the context, "add the stretching and you're good" do I tell myself.

A friend is going to a Lagree fitness studio, I did not know about that discipline. It's sort of Pilates, that would be a good option too, I have been wanting to try it. 





Edited by stiltt - 01/06/2020 at 3:01pm
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote mts388 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 01/06/2020 at 3:17pm
Originally posted by stiltt stiltt wrote:

A few people in their 50s with back pain started yoga and they said the core strength they gained made the back pain go away. I am not sure how long it takes but it is sustainable as long as we put in the hours and commitment. I never had back pain and I am ready to start if it comes.
 
The only problem I have with yoga are the nut jobs polluting me with their perception of what my spiritual experience should be, those give me the cringe.

I suppose Pilates would do the same in the context, "add the stretching and you're good" do I tell myself.

A friend is going to a Lagree fitness studio, I did not know about that discipline. It's sort of Pilates, that would be a good option too, I have been wanting to try it. 




I do yoga twice a week and never have back pain.  In my 20 years of yoga I've never had anyone talk about a spiritual experience.  It should be strength, balance with some flexibility.  I am not very flexible and it hasn't been a problem in yoga.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (1) Thanks(1)   Quote Charlie Brown Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 01/06/2020 at 3:32pm
It's very important you stretch before and after each training session - make this a habit because in TT you use a lot of "little" muscles which support those bigger muscles and if they're not "warmed up" you will have issues eventually.

If your coach is "properly trained" (like Samson Dubina), you can ask him or her about a suitable warm up session prior to going at the table.




Edited by Charlie Brown - 01/06/2020 at 3:32pm
*sigh*
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (1) Thanks(1)   Quote Matt Pimple Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 01/06/2020 at 3:46pm
Originally posted by Charlie Brown Charlie Brown wrote:

It's very important you stretch before...
And it is also important not to stretch cold muscles! So if you wanted to stretch before your session make sure to warm up first.


Edited by Matt Pimple - 01/12/2020 at 8:24am
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote tom Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 01/06/2020 at 4:00pm
Originally posted by mts388 mts388 wrote:

Originally posted by stiltt stiltt wrote:

A few people in their 50s with back pain started yoga and they said the core strength they gained made the back pain go away. I am not sure how long it takes but it is sustainable as long as we put in the hours and commitment. I never had back pain and I am ready to start if it comes.
 
The only problem I have with yoga are the nut jobs polluting me with their perception of what my spiritual experience should be, those give me the cringe.

I suppose Pilates would do the same in the context, "add the stretching and you're good" do I tell myself.

A friend is going to a Lagree fitness studio, I did not know about that discipline. It's sort of Pilates, that would be a good option too, I have been wanting to try it. 




I do yoga twice a week and never have back pain.  In my 20 years of yoga I've never had anyone talk about a spiritual experience.  It should be strength, balance with some flexibility.  I am not very flexible and it hasn't been a problem in yoga.
it all depends on the studio you go to, some will have nut jobs and others no
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (1) Thanks(1)   Quote blahness Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 01/06/2020 at 5:09pm
Reason is probably you are bending and twisting at the lumbar region ie the lower back

I created a thread a while ago to discuss about it: http://mytabletennis.net/forum/dangers-of-waist-rotation_topic85492_page1.html

TLDR: Brace your lumbar region by tightening the core muscles, and rotate from your hips rather than at the lumbar region. To get good hip rotation you need to also have rotation at the feet and knees when you do your weight transfer. 

The other thing is to maintain an upright position rather than bending your body to any other side (ie your shoulders should always be at the same height), and when picking up balls bend from your knees rather than from your waist. 

If you're learning to loop, it is better to go low by bending at the knees rather than from the waist, similar to a split squat. 

One way to build up core strength to brace your lumbar region is by planking, I found it super helpful. 

I used to have lower back soreness whenever I play but now I pretty much reprogrammed my technique to involve almost 0 waist rotation and bending, and I basically never get any lower back soreness anymore. 


Edited by blahness - 01/06/2020 at 5:30pm
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (1) Thanks(1)   Quote Fabian1890 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 01/06/2020 at 5:35pm
improve core strength with planks etc, it will help :)
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (1) Thanks(1)   Quote JEAus Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 01/06/2020 at 6:20pm
Building up core strength is the key. Either pilates or yoga will give you this in a structured setting, or you can develop your own set of exercises. This won't be a quick fix either way, but is great for the long term. Whatever you pick, you need to be consistent and fairly frequent.

You can also look at exercises to get you used to engaging your core while moving - many of us don't do this naturally and this will give you results much quicker.

While working on your core, try and limit the time heavily bent and the twisting. You really don't want to damage your back - recovery is incredibly slow.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (1) Thanks(1)   Quote Simas Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 01/11/2020 at 6:39pm
In general, back pain for those who are sitting a whole day by the computer is quite a big issue. 
But if you never had a problem with a back pain, maybe your back muscled are just adjusting to increased load and after some adjustment time it will be ok? This could be the case, because you write "Halfway through my 1-hour lesson, I start to get pain in my lower back"... anyways, at least do a stretch after playing if you feel your back stays tight...
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (1) Thanks(1)   Quote wturber Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 01/11/2020 at 9:37pm
Lots of good advice.  I would add that it is possible that you are leaning forward too much in an attempt to get low.  So you probably need more leg strength.  For table tennis I really like using a bicycle - especially standing up while climbing hills. I would add building leg strength as well as core strength to the mix.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Baal Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 01/12/2020 at 6:30am
If you actually look at the sports medicine literature, the evidence that stretching before or after sports reduces injuries is highly contentious, especially static stretching. Effects reported are really small or there is no effect at all. There is agreement that static stretching reduces strength and power measured in things like jumping and cycling.

I guess what I'm saying here is that you need to have realistic expectations.  You are putting a new strain on your body after being sedentary, so build up slowly and listen to your body.  Pain is a signal.

Getting stronger will definitely help which means you need to do some stuff besides TT.  As with the last comment, I think riding a bike is a fantastic addition to TT.  Also you might want to give thought to the shoes you are wearing.  Adding some sports insoles to my shoes helped me quite a bit. It might not be your problem but it is still worth mentioning.


Edited by Baal - 01/12/2020 at 7:11am
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (1) Thanks(1)   Quote BRS Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 01/12/2020 at 8:09am
The most likely culprits are concrete floor or lack of core strength.  

If the floor isn't well padded buy quality shoes with support.  There have been many threads about them.

If the floor is good then do an exercise called dead bugs. Lots of youtube vids.  Press your lower back down to the floor and it is virtually impossible to injure yourself through bad form or overuse.  
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Lokked Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 01/13/2020 at 3:28am
Thank you all!

I read the responses as they came in and I want to address a few, then give an update:

Charlie Brown: I have started stretching a bit. Not excessively, but, in attempting to stretch, I discovered how in-flexible I've become. I'm going to work on that. Literally just sitting with my lower back touching the wall and my legs out straight is an excruciating stretch. It's bad.

Blahness: I have slowly started to realize, through youtube and watching my coach's demonstrations a bit more, that the twisting comes more from the hips. I was twisting solely from the lumbar region before. I am learning to loop with the forehand, and the coach demonstrates (this is just my visual interpretation of what he's doing) a bend at the right knee and to bend at the abdomen to the right as well, with the right arm pointing down to the floor. I'm wondering now if he's not actually bending his abdomen, and it's all with his bent knee and hips. However he does it, he's able to perform his stroke, raising his body back up to shift weight to his left VERY quickly. I cannot do it that quick the way I'm doing it. We have the nets to pick up balls, and yes I avoid bending over at the back to get them. I have been doing planks nightly since reading this.

wturber: I think you're right. I just read this today, so I will at least start doing squats or something like that. Bicycling sounds good, but the logistics for that are a bit much. I'll look into this.

BRS: I'll look at the Dead Bugs exercise.

On Core Strength: I had a lesson today, and I noticed that when I am playing, I am not engaging my Core. This is probably bad. When I actively tightened my core (when I thought about it and could manage it), everything felt a lot better. I think doing core exercises will help a lot.

For my update, and I'm sure this is another topic, and certainly an obvious one, I played some people before my lesson and I could not return anything. I had to laugh at myself because in training, the ball always comes to the same spot with the same spin. What was I expecting against other people? Anyway, a good reminder that I need to actually play people (and find time to do so).

Take care!
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Lokked Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 01/13/2020 at 4:29pm
Blahness, I read through the thread you linked and a few other ones stemming from it. I think what I did last lesson, what I called engaging my core, is what you referred to as Bracing (I thought when I first read your post that "Bracing your Core" was wrapping it, as this is what my coach does to his lumbar region :p). Bracing definitely helped my previous lesson, and I will start doing this throughout the day at my desk during the week and while I play TT. With the thoracic rotating instead of lumbar rotations, I wonder if it is the same during looping and getting low, if I brace my core and bend down to the right with my shoulders, rather than my waist. I will try this and see if it's possible for me.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote blahness Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 01/13/2020 at 5:57pm
Originally posted by Lokked Lokked wrote:

Blahness, I read through the thread you linked and a few other ones stemming from it. I think what I did last lesson, what I called engaging my core, is what you referred to as Bracing (I thought when I first read your post that "Bracing your Core" was wrapping it, as this is what my coach does to his lumbar region :p). Bracing definitely helped my previous lesson, and I will start doing this throughout the day at my desk during the week and while I play TT. With the thoracic rotating instead of lumbar rotations, I wonder if it is the same during looping and getting low, if I brace my core and bend down to the right with my shoulders, rather than my waist. I will try this and see if it's possible for me.

Glad that helped! Yes bracing the core is pretty much engaging the core muscles to stabilise it and prevent it from flailing about, you should feel your lumbar region become hard if it's done correctly. 

After that you can use thoracic rotation (rotation at the chest area) which is safe, but that is quite difficult, and is only secondary to the hip rotation. 

I think getting low is quite different from rotation, and dropping the right shoulder such that it is lower than the left usually involves bending at the lumbar which is also harmful. Instead what I did was to keep my shoulders level, bend slightly from the hips, and get low using the knees (similar to a lunge position). But I wouldn't recommend getting that low for a beginner, it requires a lot of leg strength, you need to gradually work towards it.

There's some intricacies in this regarding the knee and feet positioning and movement. I might actually record a video to show this (it took me a long time to get it)
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