Low back pain, you’ve either experienced it once, are experiencing it now, or experience it regularly! The low back, right at the centre of the body, tends to take the brunt of the various issues throughout the body.
Low back pain can be caused by:
- Psoas tightness (hip flexor region)
- Asymmetries in muscle strength and flexibility from side to side in the body.
- Core strength (core includes all the muscles you think of as ‘abs’ as well as hip muscles, low back muscles etc.
- Hip mobility
- Proper hip hinging movements to lift things properly.
- Thoracic mobility
- Spine alignment
- Strength of back extensors
- Lower body mechanics (foot, ankle, calve)
In the next series of mobility classes, we will slowly work through this list, learning and educating ourselves about each aspect and what we can do to improve any dysfunction.
This is not an extensive list of all the issues that may be causing lower back pain, and you should consult your medical practitioner for extensive testing to rule out all these causes of pain, as well as any others you may be experiencing.
This week in Mobility Class:
This week we will tackle:
1) Hip flexor region mobility. The hip flexors get chronically tight from sitting all day, and from the posture of the typical ‘desk employee’. They need to be released regularly. One of our hip flexors, the psoas inserts directly onto the lower vertebrae of the spine, therefore you can imagine how when they get tight they pull directly on the lower back.
We will roll out the Iliopsoas, breathing, rolling, pin and stretch, lifting bent knee, lifting straight leg. Then wag the bent leg side to side. Slide the knee up into frog position and back. We will do a few hip flexor stretches including the tall kneeling stretch, low stretch with twists, and half cobra frog.
2) Asymmetries and imbalances.
A common reason for low back pain is an imbalance within some of the core musculature, including the abdominals, the glutes, and the low back muscles. In this section of class we will do some strengthening! I will teach you how to do the exercise ‘chops’ and ‘lifts’ which will highlight which quadrant of the core you find most difficult stabilizing in, and which one to practice most often on your own time. We will also cover one leg glute lifts, glute bridges with leg extension, glute kicks to the ceiling, bird dog, and crawling! All of these exercises focus on stabilizing the body throughout movement. As we notice if you have an asymmetry we can start to focus on doing more of a certain exercise in your most challenging position.
3) Core Strength
The Asymmetry section extends into the core strength section. A weak unstable core is not going to keep the lower back in a good stable position as you move through your activities of daily living. In this section of class we will practice plank variations including plank around the world, shoulder taps, and dead bug.
4) Hip Mobility
Besides the hip flexors, when the other structures of the hip are tight they can influence the lower back. Many connect from the hip to the low back, ribs, and pelvis. In this section we will roll out the thoracolumbar fascia, the quadratus lumborum, the glutes, the external rotators of the hips, the TFL, and the vastus lateralis. We will then stretch all those regions.
Next week we will cover the other sections of preventing back pain!