Back Pain so where can the pain be coming from? To put in simply, there are 4 main areas in your lower back that cause your pain: joints, discs, nerve roots, and the muscles. Tight and shortened muscles in the hips (gluteals, hip flexors or quadriceps) or lower limb (hamstrings) may place extra pressure on your back, with your weak glutes potentially being the root cause of your lower back pain.
Why do weak Gluteals cause Back Pain?
Our gluteal muscles help us to keep our pelvis stable when standing or walking. Each time we take a step it prevents our hip from dropping looking like we have a limp and swaying from side to side. Often this occurs due to atrophy and weakness of this muscle. The load becomes too much for the rest of the lower back to handle. It tightens up in ana attempt to try and protect itself and other muscles compensate to manage the load. This is not efficient and leads to incorrect mechanics and inevitably back pain.
What role do my Hamstrings play in my Back Pain?
The hamstrings are forever pulling down on the bottom of our hips (the ischial tuberosity or your sit bone) in an attempt to try and prevent your bottom from becoming so tight. As a response to this, your lower back (lumbar spine) then tries to avoid too much pelvic tilt ( It’s being pulled downwards from behind) that it tightens up in an attempt to try and battle with your gluteals and hamstrings pulling it down. Eventually the muscle fatigue, and send a response to the brain saying there is a “TUG OF WAR” happening around the top of your pelvis. To keep it stable and all the muscles are working too hard resulting in you feeling PAIN.
Some easy assessments to see if your back has great mobility/flexibility is to try the following activities:
- Can you independently move your THORACIC spine (upper back) from your LUMBAR spine?
- Are you able to touch your toes WITHOUT bending your knees OR moving your back?
- Can you independently squeeze your left bottom cheek from your right bottom cheek?
- Can you do a straight leg raise past 70 degrees?
Quick exercises to see if you need to focus on strength/stability of the Gluteals.
Video One: Crab Walks:
- Place a band around your ankles
- Take up the tension on the band by separating the legs.
- Step from side to side for 5-10 paces.
- Zig Zag Forward 5- 10 paces
Video 2: Gluteal Bridge:
- Place a resistance band around your Thighs. Take up the tension by separating the legs.
- Drive the hip upwards, using the Gluteals to push upwards and NOT the back to arch upwards.
- ADVANCED – Perform the above exercise – With only 1 leg supported on the ground.
- Aim for Repeat 15 repetitions.
Video 3: Fire Hydrant – Quadratus Femoris Exercise:
- Adopt all 4’s position. Placing a band around your thighs.
- Extend on leg outwards to what would be the 5 O’clock position (Right leg) or the 7 O’clock position (Left) leg.
- Try not to let the lower back rotate or sag. The movement should be felt at the hip. With NO back pain.
Try these exercises out, they shouldn’t cause any extra pain. But, if you’re still having trouble after completing the above exercise, maybe you need a more refined assessment from one of our Osteopaths. The Osteopaths at Equilibrium Sports and Spinal Clinic in Glen Iris are always happy to help you achieve your health and wellbeing goals. Let us guide you to a stronger body with no back pain.
Feel free to email us at i[email protected] .We are also more than happy to chat via our blue Drift Chat box in the bottom right-hand corner.