Lower Back Pain

Lower back painCan tight/weak glutes, deep core muscles and tight hip flexors contribute to your lower back pain?

Tight or weak muscles in your hips and bum, or glutes, have a negative effect on your posture.  In a perfect world, your pelvis should be in a neutral position; if it is tilted to the rear, your back will tend to be overly flat and you will slouch. If your pelvis is tilted too far forward, you are more likely to have a sway back and bigger curve low down.  Either side of neutral can cause back pain due to the stress on muscles, ligaments and tendons.

A Balancing Act

Your muscles work by using opposite forces. They are in a constant tug-of-war, with one set used to extend a bone or limb and another used to flex.  An imbalance between the muscles results in one set that is too loose and another set that is too tight.  Whenever a muscle is shortened for a long period of time, it will become tight.  Sitting for long periods keeps the hip flexors contracted and increases the risk that they will become tight. Sitting also causes weakness of the gluteals due to lack of use.  Hence why lots of people have started calling periods of prolonged sitting – ‘The Sitting Disease!’

Hip Flexors and a Weak DEEP Core

Your hip flexors and gluteal (bum) muscles are attached to your pelvis.  Your hip flexors help lift your thigh towards your chest. When tight, they pull the pelvis forward and cause an excessive arch in the lumbar spine.  They also may take over some of the functions of the abdominal muscles, which weakens your DEEP core – the abdominal and spinal muscles.  A weak DEEP core also increases the risk of back pain.

Correcting the Problem

Stretching helps – when the correct type of stretch on a specific muscle is practiced.  Soft tissue massage and resistance training are important to include in a rehabilitation plan. Specific stretching helps to lengthen or relax specific muscle imbalances.  Static stretching involves moving your body or limb into a posture and then holding that posture for at least 20 seconds. Soft tissue release or trigger point release works well at reducing tone in a muscle and helping to reduce pain.  Dry Needling works really well to loosen muscles, reduce myofascial pain and tightness and to kick start a physiological chemical release.

Body weight exercises may be the first step in resistance exercises.  Your physiotherapist will be able to assess and find out exactly where you need to start. Specific muscle activation exercises may be needed to start off your rehabilitation routine. These are not hard to do, they just require a lot of focus and concentration!

Considerations and Warnings

The key to relieving low back pain is to find out exactly what is causing it? Is it muscle, ligament, stability, imbalance or a pathology? A consultation with a physiotherapist will help to identify your exact problem. That’s the key to success!

Starting a new training program after being sedentary for some time? Why not book in today for an assessment with one of our Chartered Physiotherapists.  We will be happy to help with any niggles or find out exactly where your pain is coming from.

Take that first step in a healthier direction today!

Patrick McCarrick MISCP

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