Low back pain is the most common back pain Americans suffer. According to Mayo Clinic research, 70 percent of Americans will mist one day of work due to lower back pain.
Why is this? Let’s talk about some likely causes
If we look at basic functional anatomy, we see that the lumbar spine – that is, the part of the spine that runs through the lower back – sits atop a large, bowl-shaped pelvis. The position of the pelvis, which strongly influences the function if the lumbar spine, is determined by the strongest muscles in our body. If the front pelvic muscle – the psoas, iliacus, and rectus femoris, along with others – are short and tight, they will tilt that pelvic bowl forward. Imagine if the pelvis were an actual bowl full of liquid. When the front pelvic muscles are short and tight, that bowl would tip forward and dump that liquid out in front of you. As the pelvis tips forward, the lumbar spine is pulled into extension, which increases the lumbar curve, or lordosis, beyond what is normal. This increased extension pressure results in a narrowing of the windows through which nerves pass from the spine. These windows, called foramen, are the focus of neurosurgeons everywhere. These nerve roots must be freed up or the result can be pain and the loss of lower extremity function. This is a gross over-simplification, but still gives you a picture of what can happen.
Another source of low back pain arises on the posterior side of the pelvis.
The hamstrings and gluteal muscles are attached here. Most of the time these muscles help us balance our pelvis. But when they are short and tight, they become too dominant and flex our lower spines, decreasing the normal amount of extension and lordosis. In this situation, if the pelvic bowl were full of liquid, it would spill out behind you. This condition creates its own set of problems, which can be just as painful.
Therefore, the issue with low back pain is how to balance these muscular forces acting on the pelvis. Imagine going so far as having back surgery without attempting to achieve this balance. How could we expect that surgical outcome to be good? The same muscular imbalances will just perpetuate the problem. Unless we make a real effort with professional help to understand and correct our pelvic imbalances, most of the hours of our typical day push us toward greater imbalance. A primary culprit is sitting. Sitting several hours per day puts both the anterior and posterior pelvic muscle groups in a short and weak position. As these muscles adapt to this position, they become more of constant detrimental influence on our lumbar spines. To take appropriate action toward balance, most people need some professional help. Even well-trained professionals can struggle with a balanced solution.
The pros at EW Motion Therapy can offer you the best opportunity for understanding and addressing the imbalances that lead to your pain. Our passion is helping you understand your body and empower you to feel better, move better and live better! Often a miserable low back condition can improve dramatically with just 10 minutes a day of stretching and strengthening that require little if any equipment. Yoga and Pilates can also be a tremendous help in achieving healthy muscle balance and healthier life.