Low Back Pain
One of the most common complaints across the world and certainly in Harrisburg is low back pain. Chiropractic care for low back pain is one of the most successful and efficient therapies to resolve this pain. Most of us will experience back pain at some point in our lives. What we do about, how we view pain and how we prevent it from happening again will vary from person to person. Let’s dive in!
What muscles make up the low back?
First, the “low back” is comprised of many different muscles. Low back pain can even come from muscles not located in the back! The most common spots of pain are in the lumbar multifidi, the quadratus lumborum and some muscles in the sacrum.
The lumbar multifidi are strong “cables” that run up each side of the spine. They are considered anti-gravity muscles because they keep us upright. When you reach down to touch your toes, these are one of the muscle groups you are stretching. These muscles can get sore or painful from weightlifting, running, pulling weeds out of the garden or even shoveling snow!
Figure 1: Back extensor muscles including the lumbar multifidi
The next muscle is the quadratus lumborum. This muscle is on either side of your body and helps to side bend and extend you backwards. This muscle is usually sore in people who sit all day! Think about how you might shift or lean to one side when you are sitting for a long time. Usually, you are shortening this muscle on one side and lengthening it on the other! If you are a golfer, this is a big-time muscle too! Often, a golfer with low back pain will have one side very short and painful and the other side will be inhibited, or weakened.
Figure 2: Quadratus lumborum
A few other muscles not located in the back, but ones that can still cause low back pain are: piriformis, gluteus maximus, gluteus medius and gluteus minimus. These are your “butt” muscles. If you have a desk job and low back pain, these muscles are most likely a big cause of concern! One of my favorite exercises for low back pain in people who sit throughout the day is called the “donkey kick”. Check out this exercise video freely available for download on the home page!
Underworking glutes (mostly from sitting too long) can cause a variety of low back pains!
- Inhibited glutes can cause overworking in the piriformis and deep rotators of the hip. This overworking can be a cause for sciatica and low back pain!
- Inhibited glutes can cause instability in the SI (sacro-iliac) joint and result in SI joint pain along with low back pain!
- Inhibited glutes can cause overworking and tight hamstrings! Tight hamstrings can be a cause of low back pain, but stretching the hamstrings might not alleviate the back pain until we address the inhibited glutes.
- Inhibited glutes can cause tight hip flexors! Tight hip flexors can cause low back pain as they attempt to stabilize the lumbar spine. Doing a couch stretch or lunge may feel good for the moment, but the tightness will return without activating the glutes!
- Inhibited glutes can be the cause for tight calf muscles and also plantar fasciitis! Without the glutes working, the calf muscles work harder along with the foot muscles to get you through your gait cycle. Orthotics and inserts will only make a temporary change in foot pain. We must address the source of the pain!
As you can see, there are many muscles that can contribute to low back pain. Those same muscles can also be responsible for other pains throughout the body!
What can YOU do on your own to help ease the low back pain?
First, download our free exercise video series!
Second, make sure you are taking small breaks at work throughout the day to stand up and move around. Our bodies are made for movement and not for sitting behind a desk all day!
Third, make sure you are breathing correctly! Another common issue we see with low back pain is poor breathing mechanics. Try to practice “belly breathing”, or breathing with your diaphragm. Your belly should push outward as you breathe in and your chest and shoulders should stay still. Just training your breathing can help your low back pain!
While the above exercises and suggestions are very helpful for low back pain, often it’s not enough to eliminate the pain. Remember, we want to get to the CAUSE of the low back pain! Using some of our cutting-edge techniques such as NKT and P-DTR, we can identify what types of issues are happening within these muscles and with the brain, also known as the control center. Then we can reprogram the dysfunction in the movements and muscles so they no longer create pain or tightness. Finally, we’ll use Active Release Technique (A.R.T.), kinesio-taping and sometimes laser to help heal any damage in those muscles.
If you’re in Harrisburg or Hershey and recognize these muscles as causing your low back pain, give us a call at 717 503 9454!