Improve your low back pain at home

Low back pain is extremely common, and extremely debilitating. We’ve all experienced it, myself included.

Here’s a few suggestions that I’ve found have worked well personally, as well as being effective strategies in a clinical setting.

There are many factors and probable causes of low back pain. The common themes I’ve come to recognise whilst looking at many different presentations of low back pain through the lenses of a soft tissue/movement therapist are as follows.

1) Immobile hips

Stiff and immobile hips are what I hypothesise as being one of the main culprits of LBP. Especially the pain that you feel running horizontally across the base of the back/SI joint area. My theory is that
when the hips aren’t able to move, they cause the low back to move more than it should, creating all sorts of crazy dysfunction in the area.

2) Under performing hip musculature

When the muscles of the hip are tight, they’re also unable to contract well and do their job. I think of the pelvis, and specifically the glutes, as being the epicentre for movement. Like when you throw a stone in a pond, the water ripples away from this epicentre. I think of the glutes as being the epicentre of musculature contraction, which then ripples outward to the extremities. When the glutes are contracting well, the low back doesn’t have to work as hard.

3) Dissociating movement at the hip joints from the lower back

There’s a reason we have a set of ball and socket joints at either end of our spine. You can think of your spine as a chassis, and your hips and shoulders as big engines that create movement. However, when the above two factors combine (immobile hips and under performing hip muscles) we tend to lose the ability to move through the hip joints without moving through the low back. Movement of the spine isn’t bad, however it depends on the context e.g. lifting objects, gardening etc.

If you’re experiencing low back pain, have a go at the above strategies. Also keep these three components in mind during every day life – Are you keeping your hips mobile (mobility work, reducing time spent sitting etc), are you strengthening your hip muscles (squatting, deadlifting etc), and are you treating daily movement as a skill, prioritising moving through the hips while bracing the spine.

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