If you work in an office environment, you've probably heard at least one co-worker complain of lower back pain at some point. If you work on your feet all day, chances are you too have heard someone complain of lower back pain. Really, the chance of you knowing someone with lower back pain, or you yourself experiencing it, is actually pretty high.
Studies have shown that 90% of the population will at some point in their life experience lower back pain. “I’ve got a bad back” is getting thrown around far more often than it needs to be these days, and it doesn't look like it's slowing down. The fact is, most incidences of lower back pain are very preventable and treatable.
When it comes to lower back pain, more often than not the lower back is often the victim rather than the perpetrator. Too much time spend sitting results in tight hip flexors, hamstrings and weak gluteals and abs. The fact that day to day movements, even when we’re exercising, involve such a small amount of rotation means our thoracic spine (midback) also stiffens up.
Commonly referred to as “Lower-Cross Syndrome” - Tightness in the thoracolumbar extensors (lowerback muscles) co-exists with tightness in the iliopsoas and rectus femoris (hip flexors). Weakness of the lower abdominal muscles co-exists with weakness in the gluteus maximus and medius. The cool thing is these issues can be address with a simple home exercise program. A combination of stretching and trigger point self release with a trigger point ball is a very effective strategy.
Once the basics of mobility have been taken care often, a large percentage of lower back niggles settle down. The next step is to improve the movement control, activation and strength through these areas. It’s important to keep this step as functional as possible, rather than isolated individual muscle groups. Isolation can be important, but that’s for a whole other blog.
I can’t stress enough how important mobility through your hips (hip flexors, gluteals, hamstrings) and midback is if you want to prevent or treat lower back pain, and I'll be covering more as we progress through this pain series. Just know that while lower back pain may be common, it doesn't mean that it's something that has to be lived with.
Keep an eye out for the next blog in this series - improving movement control through all of these areas.
If you’ve had ongoing issues with your lower back then I’d highly recommend booking in for lower back screen with one of our physios to make sure you’re on the right track. Book online here, or call us on (08) 9448 2994.