One of the most common forms of pain most of us experience in our life time is the infamous low back pain ( LBP). This can come with many symptoms including but not limited to: Tightness and aches in the lower back on one side or both, Glute(butt pain), leg pain, knee pain. ankle pain, or sciatica where pain occurs all the way down the leg and possibly into the foot! These issues can stem from being muscular in root in the back or hips, nerves being pinched at the sacrilliac joint, structural damage like a bulging disc or strained muscle, or may be even caused by a structural abnormality like a narrrowing of the spinal column. All can create an aching back. If you have back pain its always best to see a doctor and a qualified movement specialist to evaluate you and diagnose your dysfunction. Knowledge is power. Often severe pain can be caused by something simple as a tight muscle, or a more serious situation involving discs or damaged nerves.
In other words its possible for you other issues leading to your back pain, so see your doctor. Typically these pains are caused by some sort of dysfunction going on in the Lumbo Pelvic Hip Complex( Your hips and back). Some caused by Hyper-lordosis (swayback look), some from posterior pelvic tilt(opposite), and others from twisted hips from faulty movement patterns, bad mobility, and decreased strength on one leg. All are equally common. Photos are exaggerated to make viewing the issue simpler.
One thing they all have in common is muscular imbalances in terms of joint mobility, muscular tensions of muscles surrounding the hip and lumbar region, and most likely possible strength imbalances of these muscles. There are several steps that can be taken in order to tackle the problem. They include addressing:
- Sitting, standing and other postures you place yourself in for long periods
- how you move
- Muscles that are tight or lengthened
- muscles that are too weak compared to other muscles surrounding joints
- how you manage stress and where in your body you feel stress
Unfortunately these are all things that cannot be fixed by a pill, injection or a surgery. Are these modalities from your Doctor useful? Yes very! I recommend consulting to see if they are necessary. Things like cortizone, Prolotherapy, pain medications, a surgery that is needed, are all game changers in the right situation! The problem is that without change in lifestyle, to address the source of the issue these modailities will not keep with problem away and your problem will more than likely return.
- Consider the following and observe yourself in your daily life:
- How long do you sit a day?
- How do you sit? are you upright, slouched or even have a funny twist of sorts?
- Do you get up frequently enough?
Today were only going to address sitting. We will get into movement and stretches and exercises in Part 2! For now lets just address the first problem
Common Problem Causing Sitting Postures:
Kyphotic low back sitting– Common with people who think they’re sitting up straight because their chest is up and they feel upright, but their back is saying something else. This is the person who sits and their low back is rounded- they feel upright but their tail is tucked under their spine. This may be combined with the upper body being rounded as well. See figure 1
Spinal Effect: This causes pinching and irritation of the discs and nerves on the anterior (front side) of the spine and in the Sacroiliac joint.
Muscular effect: Lengthens and weakens Spinal erectors, severely weakens and lengthens all gluteus muscles, shortens and weakens hamstrings, lengthens and irritates quadratrus lumborum, shortens quadriceps and creates dominance.
Hyper-Lordosis sitting– Common with people who have focused on sitting up right, theyre just too good at it and need to tone it down a bit. THis is the person who sits and their butt is sticking out behind them, making their low back form a large arch. This causes pinching of the discs on the (posterior)back side of the spine
Spinal:This will cause pinching and irritation of the disc and nerves on the posterior(back side of the spine) and in the sacroilliac joint
Muscular: Lengthens and weakens hamstrings, shortens hip flexors, shortens and weakens glutes, shortens quadratus lumborum, shortens quadriceps and creates dominance.
Both of these make for what feels like tightness in the back but one will benefit from stretch of the back and one will not. One will also benefit from strengthening of the spinal muscles themselves, while one MAY get worse by attempting to strengthen their back while neglecting the ones that need strengthening. We will touch on this soon!
Other sitting postural distortions
Foot Tuck– this can be combined with the previous two but will cause issues especially on to one side, its like adding a twist on the back and may contribute to a lateral side of the spine and/or anterior or posterior pinch. This one is common for people who are anxious at their desk wanting to be done, or those who are driving in the car who have an automatic transmission, their non gas/brake foot isn’t used so they tuck it under the seat for comfort. Unfortunately, the muscles in the hip and the vertebrae of the spine eventually wont think its comfortable
spinal: places stress on one side of the vertebrae
muscular: lengthens one and shortens one hip flexor, weakens one glute more than the other, promotes a long adductor on one side of the body, shortens on quadratus lumborum and lengthens the other, shortens and lengthens opposing sides of the internal and external oblique system, shortens and lengthens one latissimus dorsi, and results in a twisted hips that may present themselves as one leg being shorter than the other,
The Slob– spinal flexion and rounding of the shoulders. The extreme form of hyper-flexion sitting. This is where the low-back and the upper-back are completely rounded. When i sit like this I feel like garbage. This person has complete stretching of their posterior side and needs a lot of strengthening of their entire posterior chain, and stretching of the anterior side of their body, as well as really focusing on improving posture- this person likely has a back ache, achy shoulders, and tight neck. The person who says: My neck, my back, my neck and my back!
All these postural distortions when sitting will lead to all the types of symptoms presented with low back pain sufferers.
Sitting Habits and Dead A$$ syndrome
For those of you who are desk jockeys you’re most likely sitting way too much . if your’e not getting up at least every 30 minutes you’re giving yourself “gluteus amnesia”. This is where by sitting your’e actually weakening your gluteus muscles because they are constantly in a lengthened and relaxed position. This tightens up the hip flexor muscles( iliopsoas)- This muscle attaches on the front of your hip and happens to also attach on the lower lumbar of the spine… Getting the picture? This Putting your hips at disadvantage for movement. Your gluteus are one of the most important muscles for supporting your low back as if they are alive they extend the hip- an example of this would be to stand up. Many of those with gluteus amnesia are quad dominant meaning they rely on their thigh muscles to stand up, their butt cheeks don’t work at all! When i was being a lazy kid, my momma always told me, or yelled, ” Get off your dead A$$!” Turns out momma had it right, sitting is killing and weakening our gluteus, resulting in much greater chances of having low back pain.
THE TAKE HOME
- Sit correctly- You can practice by placing a small support in the small of your back to ensure you have the correct arch for a neutral spine
- Upright- Chest up; shoulders not rounding over your desk
- abdominals activated- don’t let your stomach just hang- breathe into your diaphragm
- distribute your weight on both hips- dont lean
- both feet on the floor in front of you, dont tuck one or both feet under the chair
- set up whatever your’e working on at an angle that you can look more straight forward and not hunch over your desk
- Get up consistently and at bare minimum stretch your hips and hamstrings to keep them from becoming functionally short and walk around a little bit. Dont sit on it all day Maybe do a glute bridge to keep your cheeks alive. This will by no means solve your problem but it WILL get you started.
- If you can, work standing as much as you can rather than sit.
This is only the beginning of correcting all the bad habits resulting in your Low back pain.
Have you considered being analyzed and given a custom designed corrective exercise program to accelerate your results? You’ll have specific self myo-fascial release, stretches, and strengthening exercises from a movement specialist to help relieve and manage your dysfunction. Or are you still going to continue worrying and trying figure it out by yourself? Save yourself time and pain and see a local reputable movement specialist or contact us @
Please Comment and lets discuss! what are you finding for yourself that you can improve upon?
To be discussed Next time
Be thinking of:
- How Do you Pick things up?
- Do you stretch and perform myofascial releas exercises to help you get more mobile?( Even more importantly do you do the CORRECT stretches, touching your toes and stretching your spine isn’t always the right answer, in fact it usually isn’t and can contribute to your problem further.
- Do you do exercises that promote a healthy low back? Back Extensions are not always the answer to your problem, and can even contribute to your pain.
- Clue to all of this: Check your Glutes, Hamstrings, hip flexors, and hip adductors, and even ankles! Remember the pain is just telling you there is a problem, but not necessarily where it originates.
Please Visit fixtheneck.com; I got the photos of the spine here and there is a lot of good information here on other topics you may be interested in.
Fixtheneck.com for photos