Lower Back Pain: Causes & Relief
Howdy everyone! I know, it's been a little while since I've been here but I promise that it isn't without good cause. September has really started off with a boom, and I mean literally-BOOM! We are currently 4 days away from experiencing a category 3/4 hurricane (thanks Irma) so wifey and I have been running around, making sure we have everything in order.
Anyways...while speaking in the Wellness category; one of the most searched sentences on Google and other search engines are, "Lower Back Pain..., Causes, Stretches," etc. This is a subject I know all too well. At only 16 years old while participating in my weightlifting class, I experienced the dreaded Herniated Disk diagnoses from my doctor after performing some deadlifts. It would end up requiring a full year of rehabilitation, being bed bound for 1 whole school year and having a lot of help from family and my best friend Elijah with carrying me around if I had to get up. Ever since then, there wasn't a day that went by for almost 15 years that I didn't feel pain or tightness in my back....that is, until I started stretching properly and performing consistent active recovery between my training routines.
Does this run right up your alley? Well, today I will share with you just a few of my stretching and recovery techniques I use to stay mobile and injury free, even while living life as an athlete and Personal Trainer. But, first things first. If you experience lower back pain, you have to know the WHY first! Do you in fact know that this is a muscular issue as opposed to an actual spinal or other severe issue? It is important to be seen by a doctor FIRST before trying to diagnose yourself like you are Dr Oz or something. Once you know the what or why, then you can figure out the how to. Cool? Cool!
Now, if it is indeed a muscular issue or even a herniation of some sort, with proper stretching and other rehabilitation techniques, it may in fact help you live a happier and pain free life. By no means am I a licensed physician but these are tips I've learned and practiced with many clients and colleagues, including myself obviously, while being a Health Coach and Personal Trainer since 2011 and have all experienced amazing results.
Unfortunately, with saying why we have lower back pain is similar to saying why is our car not starting? It could be dozens of different reasons, sometimes multiple but with a little patience, you will be able to figure it out. Some culprits may be tight surrounding muscles that are connected to your lower back muscles and causing them to get pulled more than they need to be. Surrounding tight muscles may be...
1. Thoracic Muscles (Middle back spinal muscles)
3. Upper Hamstrings
4. Hip Flexor Muscles
Other reasons may be overcompensating due to weak abdominal muscles. This is why it is so important to train specifically in core stability, isolation and dynamic movements with your abs, hips and lower back. This may reduce the risk of experiencing acute or sudden injuries while having a drastic change in movement.
Alright, so now for the juicy stuff. What do I do to go day to day without having consistent back pain? The majority of the time, tight or painful lower backs can come from a couple of different muscle groups-The Quadratus Lumborum, Hip Flexors and your inner abdominal wall, The Transversus Abdominis. Today, I'll be singling out the QL and the Hip Flexor muscles but if this is a subject you'd like for me to discuss more, leave your comments in the comment section below.
The Quadratus Lumborum is a hidden muscle that connects from your lumbar spine, just underneath your bottom rib and stretches down towards the top of your pelvis. This has caused many individuals pain and rarely does it get stretched simply because people have no idea what it is or that it even exists! The Hip Flexor muscles are a group of different muscles that span from the lumbar spine and wrap around towards the top of your femur, or leg bone. These muscles wrap around to both sides of your leg and can cause a lot of tightness in your groin area or outer hip area.
Stretch 1: QL Hip Cross
To this day, since this stretch is rarely demonstrated, I have yet to find the proper name of this stretch. Even other amazingly talented physical therapists and trainers have yet to give this a proper name from what I've seen. So, if anyone knows, hit me up please! This stretch is performed in a seated position as shown by the picture below. You keep both legs at 90 degrees with one knee turned in and the other out. Then, with the outer thigh that is lying on the ground in front of you, lift up your opposing arm like you're performing an oblique or side stretch and turn that shoulder in towards the ground and reach out. Hold for roughly 10-30 seconds for 2-3 sets and then switch legs. Can you spot my dogs? :)
Stretch 2: Child's Pose
This is one of the more popular poses inside of the yoga community. It is fairly basic and majority can do it. While kneeling on the ground, bring your booty towards your heels with the target being to reach out and drive your chest into the floor while remaining comfortable. This stretch can easily be performed before or after any workout to stretch out your hips, shoulders, back, or QL. Perform for anywhere of 20 seconds to a minute for multiple sets to achieve a looser lower back. Remember, the wider your knees go out, the more stretching to your hips and shoulders you will do. If you desire to target your QL, keep your knees in if possible.
Stretch 3: Basic Hip Flexors
This stretch is a popular one as well and is fairly easy to master. While keeping one knee down, stretch out your opposite leg while taking a small lunge with the target being to keep your chest up and out, hips tucked in and belly button sucked in towards your spine while driving your hips into the floor while remaining balanced and comfortable. Both sides should be stretched for 2-3 sets while holding for 20-30 seconds without reaching a high point of discomfort.
Do note that these are just a few stretches of many that I perform daily along with foam rolling, eating anti-inflammatory based foods, performing consistent cardio to help keep my weight down to relieve tension on my spine and staying hydrated. Some days, it does feel like a chore but the truth is, even if I miss one of these activities daily, I can feel it the next day. This does require a lifestyle change! Just like with eating and exercising, there is no quick fix. Some people will lead you to believe that there may be but I insure you, there isn't. Yes, I've done it all and only after participating in yoga, stretching consistently while doing other healthy activities, only then has the pain started to subside.
If anyone has any questions or would like to learn more about the other activities I do to keep back pain at bay, please never hesitate to reach out to me. If you enjoyed this article, leave a comment down below so others may see it and we can help more people!
Also, if you liked this article and are indeed ready to commit to a lifestyle change; brand new Injury Prevention and Mobility Private Training sessions are available! First consultation is FREE! Register your spot HERE
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