Low back pain

by | Jan 5, 2022

It’s no surprise that I see a lot of low back pain. It is the most common complaint among my patients. What’s not so common is that most patients that have lower back pain generally have the same movement patterns, or I should say, lack of movement patterns. When a patient has low back pain and they can not recall a specific traumatic event that set off the low back pain like a slip and fall, car accident, or shoveling snow, I don’t examine the low back at first. Hear me out. Most cases of lower back pain that I see are generally put into two categories. The first category is the person has an office job or a job that has them sitting most of the day. The second category is the person has a physically demanding job so they are on their feet most of the day.

Let’s break down the first category. When a person sits for extended periods of time, day in and day out, two things happen. The thoracic spine becomes less mobile and the hip flexors become very tight. When the thoracic spine losses mobility, the lower back tries to make up for that lack of mobility by trying to move more than it should. When the hip flexors become tight, the pelvis is pulled into an anterior position. This causes the glute max muscle, yes, your butt muscle, to become stretched that therefore weakened because it loses muscle tension. We call this reciprocal inhibition. Think of it this way, when we contract our biceps, our triceps muscle has to relax for allow for the contraction of the bicep muscle. Same concept with our hip flexors. This is also known as lower crossed syndrome in the chiropractic world.

When a person has a physically demanding job and requires them to be on their feet for extended periods of time, our core muscles can become weak and that can cause lower back pain due to the lack of core stabilization. Also, footwear can play an important role in lower back pain as well. Proper shoes will give you the right support so your hip and pelvis can move in an efficient manner when walking or lifting. Most people that have physically demanding jobs are not using their body in the most efficient way possible. I certainly forget to lift with my legs from time to time and lifting and twisting is just a recipe for disaster for the low back.

Now that you have some understanding how lower back pain occurs in most people it’s important to properly address the root causes of lower back pain. This is why I examine the low back LAST. I will usually find underlying issues that are attributing to low back pain. My approach usually has MOST people feeling at least 50-75% better in under 6 visits, and no, they aren’t coming in 3 times a week for a month!

With approximately 1 in 10 people experiencing back pain every year it’s important to help educate my patients on what they can do at home when back pain occurs. Some exercises I incorporate into my treatment plans are: Supine knee to chests, pelvic tilts, dead bugs in neutral spine, horizontal figure 4’s, starfish patterns, and more. If you have lower back pain just type in these rehab exercises into your search engine and give them a try!

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