Lower Back Pain

Without a doubt I would say this is the most common physical complaint I have seen over the past 7 years in the health industry. It’s an injury that most people generally accept as part of life and learn to find coping mechanisms. However let’s not accept that this is normal, pain isn’t normal!

Let me start by saying I am not a qualified physio/osteotherapist/chiropractor but I have the fortunate situation of working closely with 2 fantastic therapists Liam Swain (LRS Physiotherapy) and John Martin(8th Element) who I can’t recommend highly enough for any sports/life related injuries. 

The purpose of today’s blog is to go through common causes of lower back and potential ways to help prevent/relieve any discomfort. Again if you’re ever concerned about your condition do see a specialist prior to any form of self healing.

Most common causes of lower back pain include: 

-Lifting heavy objects inappropriately

-Consistent poor posture over time 

-Trauma to the lower back or surrounding areas

-Tight muscles in the upper body, lower back, hips or legs areas

In relation to everyday work, I find that clients’ posture and muscular tightness are the main causes of their lower back pain, in particular office based workers or those that spend a lot of time travelling on the train or car so I’m going to focus on these today.

Often referred to as the Duck syndrome an anterior pelvis tilt is when your pelvis is tilted forward, which looks like your lower back is over arched. Other characteristics include your glutes and stomach protruding more than normal. As a results this causes persistent lower back tension. The associated muscles that are tight are the Hip flexors, Tensor fascia lata, quadriceps, Lower back erectors, Thoracolumbar fascia, all of which require stretching.

In addition, there are weak muscles which require strengthening, which are 

Glutes, Hamstrings, Abdominals, Obliques

The opposite postural condition to this is called a posterior pelvic tilt. Here the pelvis is rotated backwards causing the lower back to round rather than its natural small arch.

Slouching in chairs can be a common cause of this condition or if you stand with a sway back or “flat bottom” then these are signs of your hip being tilted posteriorly. All of these characteristics can place severe pressure and pain in your lower spin and should not be ignored.

In this case muscles that are tight and require stretching are:

-Hamstrings

-Glutes

-Abdominals

Muscles that are weak and require strengthening are:

-Hip Flexors

-Lumbar Spine erectors

Sciatica & Piriformis Syndrome

The above 2 conditions cause very similar symptoms of sharp, severe  pain normally felt in the glutes all the way down your leg, however it can cause back spasms.

Piriformis syndrome relates to the Piriformis muscle, located in the glutes. When this muscle tightens up or spasms then this causes the painful symptoms. Sciatica is caused by irritation or compression of the sciatic nerve. The straight leg test is normally used to differentiate between the 2 conditions. 

The NHS recommends you lay flat on your back with legs straight and lift one leg at a time. If lifting one leg causes pain or makes symptoms worse, this actually suggests sciatica.

Lightly stretching the piriformis muscle (and others if necessary) is often recommended as treatment for the syndrome, however sciatica will require medical attention.

As mentioned earlier do seek advice from a GP or physio if you’re suffering from any of these symptoms and you’re unsure what to do. 

References: http://posturedirect.com/

www.nhs.uk

www.spine-health.com

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