Suffering From Lower Back Pain?
According to the American Spinal Decompression Association: “Low back pain affects at least 80% of us some time in our lives, perhaps 20-30% of us at any given time. It is usually recurrent, and subsequent episodes tend to increase in severity”.
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 (gently!)
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 from vertebrae to 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 > Lower Back Pain | The Hip-Flexor Fix
- Tight hamstrings > Lower Back Pain | The Hamstring Fix
- Tight upper back > This article!
- 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.
Tight Thoracic Spine
It’s important to note that your upper back is actually stronger than both your neck & lower back simply because your rib cage has a stabilizing effect. However, this also means that it has limited flexibility. So when the muscles of your upper back tighten-up, it further limits movement between the vertebrae.
Tight thoracic musculature:
- Can be caused by sneezing or coughing an extended period.
- Can be caused by poor posture.
- Is a common occurrence with a natural flat-upper back posture (hypokyphosis).
Our spine is a marvellous column of bones, discs, muscles & fascia that will bend, twist & rotate with every movement you make. So it’s logical that if one portion of the vertebral column is hampered in movement (tight) the rest of the column will have to move more aggressively to allow you to complete the motion that you want.
So, if your upper back is tight, each time you bend, twist or reach, in compensation, more movement is expected out of the lumbar spine (lower back). The muscles of the lower back tighten up as a protective mechanism. It hurts!
If this goes on for a while, the lower back muscles will start to stiffen up in an attempt to protect those vertebra that make up the lower portion of the spine. If this goes on for longer, your lower back muscles will start to spasm.
So let’s stretch your tight upper back & provide relief to your overworked lower back.
Upper Back (Thoracic spine) Stretch
You should feel this stretch across your upper back.
- Stretching one side at a time
- With feet shoulder width apart, stand about a foot away from the door jam
- With arm below horizontal & palm facing away from your body, grasp the door jam
- Bend your knees & sit back until you feel a slight stretch in your upper back on the same side
- Hold for one minute (by the clock) on each side
Warning: if you have hyperkyphosis (hunch back) in your thoracic spine, please do not do this stretch. It will cause further problems.
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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