Suffering From Lower Back Pain?
According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders & Stroke, 80% of adults will at some point in their lives suffer from lower back pain.
This pain can be experienced in many different ways. From a chronic, dull, throbbing ache, to a sharp, “take your breath away” stab in the lower back. Either way, lower back pain can render you incapacitated.
For most folks, the symptoms (pain) is the muscles of the lower back spasming. So, in order to feel better:
- Apply heat (heating pad or hot bath)
- Massage Therapy
- Stretch out the lower back
And eventually, the lower back muscles will release.
Unfortunately, the underlying cause is still exists! So, it is almost certain that the lower back pain will return. Each time the lower-back has a bout of spasm, a little more damage (possibly permanent) occurs.
What Is The Possible Damage of Spasming Lower Back Muscles?
- When the muscles are tight for an extended period of time, circulation can be interrupted. This can cause muscle tissue to die. When this tissue is cleaned away, it is replaced with scar tissue. Scar tissue is inelastic, further hampering movement.
- Corrupting of the intervertebral discs. The muscles are attached to the vertebrae. When they tighten, the discs in between get squeezed & can suffer damage. Eventually, the discs can herniate & press into the nerves. Ouch!
- Bone spurs can develop on the vertebrae & can eventually press into the nerves. Ouch!
Wouldn’t it be better to deal with the underlying cause as soon as possible?
What if your lower back pain isn’t really about your lower back? What if there’s actually an underlying cause elsewhere in your body & your lower back spasm is simply a consequence? Wouldn’t you like to eliminate the underlying cause so that your lower back pain is banished forever?
The Four Common Underlying Causes of Lower Back Pain
These are four common underlying causes that can lead to lower back pain.
- Tight hip-flexors > This article!
- Tight hamstrings > Lower Back Pain | The Hamstring Fix
- Tight upper back > Lower Back Pain | The Thoracic Fix
- Core weakness > Lower Back Pain | The Core Strength Fix
We’ve chosen these four problems because clinically, it’s what we see the most often. Furthermore, these four simple fixes are what has brought the most pain-free success to our patients.
Your tight, shortened hip flexors are tugging on the lumbar spine of your lower back & consequently, your lower back muscles have tightened up (in resistance) & it hurts!
Together, the Psoas Major, Psoas Minor & Iliacus muscles make up the Iliopsoas muscle also known as the hip-flexors. It’s action is to flex the hip (lift your leg to the front).
As you can see in the photo, the hip-flexors are a big strong muscle. The Psoas Major & Minor attach directly to the lumbar spine. So if this muscle is tight & shortened, it’ll start a tug-of-war!
How does this muscle tighten up?
Sitting. In today’s modern society, most of us sit constantly. We sit at our desks all day at work. Then we come home & sit in front of the television.
The hip-flexor is in a shortened position all day & all evening. Very few of us stretch this back out to it’s normal length. Very few people even know how!
People With Hyperlordosis Are More Susceptible
We use the term, “hyperlordosis” to describe the lower back when the concave curve is exaggerated.
What is confusing is that this posture can be quite natural & completely pain-free. However, people with hyperlordosis are always more susceptible to injury from tight hip-flexors. So they will always benefit from the hip-flexor stretch in the lunge position.
Hyperlordosis can become a problem during or after activities that require ongoing “arching” of the lower back. Examples of this are a back-bend in gymnastics or yoga poses that require holding an arched position.
Following are two different ways to stretch out your hip-flexors. Done on a regular basis on each side (one minute by the clock, three times per day) this can eliminate your back pain.
You should feel this stretch on the upper, front portion of your hip & thigh (not your lower back).
- Snug your shoulder & hip against a wall to increase stability
- Maintain a lunge position ensuring your joints are at 90 degree angles
- Placing your knee on cushion will make this more comfortable
- Round out your lower back (tuck your tail)
- Gently move forward
- Note by the picture the subtlety of the forward movement – not much at all!
- Hold for one minute (by the clock) on each side
Warning: If you feel this in your lower back, move back into the starting position. Tuck your tail more firmly this time. Holding yourself like that, move gently forward once more. If your tail is sufficiently tucked under, you shouldn’t be able to move forward much at all before you feel the stretch.
Hip Flexor Stretch (Alternative)
You should feel this stretch on the upper, front portion of your hip & thigh.
- Bend the knee of the front leg & slide it up toward your chest
- Your back leg should be straight out behind you
- Push up until your arms are straight
- Hold for one minute (by the clock) on each side
Modification: For an increased stretch, place both hands on your front knee.
Warning: You should feel this in your front (hip flexor) not in your lower back.
Another source of lower back pain can be from the muscles around the hip. If you’re interested in more information on this, click here > Hip Pain | The Easy Fix.
No one body is the same as another – bone structure dimensions differ vastly requiring the muscles, tendons & ligaments to be different lengths & attach at slightly varying angles. To gain the most success from the above exercises, make an appointment with your physiotherapist or massage therapist & ask them to lead you through an inaugural session & make the appropriate modifications unique to you.
– LEONG Orthopaedic Health
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