What are Common Causes of Lower Back Pain and Tightness.
It is important to discern the underlying causes of lower back pain. As Remedial Massage and Myotherapists we are constantly looking into WHY the pain and/ or tightness is there in the first place as well as the symptoms you are currently experiencing.
You lower back is a complex set of joints, nerves, fascia and muscles that all work together to create stability and movement of the body. To avoid pain and tightness it is important to have a balance between mobility and strength in the area as well as having the areas above and below it functions properly. Your lower back is influenced by your posture, thoracic spine, pelvis and hips. If one or more of these areas isn't functioning properly, you get a break down in the kinetic chain which is where pain, tightness and injury can occur.
The key is to work out which link/s in the chain aren't functioning properly and creating a plan of attack to improve their function. Your remedial massage or myotherapist will performa range of testing including range of movement, strength and orthopaedic testing to understand what is going on with the area and identify contributing factors such a flexibility, joint stiffness, possible underlying pathologies, muscle weakness or over recruitment, as well as factors of everyday life.
There are many common causes of lower back pain. Often there are several pieces of the puzzle that need to be addressed to decrease pain and tightness. Some of the common causes can be:
Muscle Weakness Core stability is a HUGE part of lower back pain. If you do not have the strength in your gluts, abdominals and other muscles that stabilise your lower pack it puts additional pressure through the joints which can cause tightness, stiffness, pain and/or injury to the area.
Joint Stiffness Often there is an underlying joint pathology associated with lower back pain. What can happen is one more more joints in the area become stiff and stop doing their job properly. This causes other joints in the areas to overcompensate and have to move more than usual. In turn, this can irritate these joints causing pain. Amongst other causes, joint stiffness can come from long periods of time sitting, having had a previous injury and guarding the area, stiffness in your upper back, sport and/or gym.
Poor Posture Poor posture is a huge cause of lower back pain that we see in our massage clinic. Sitting in poor posture for long periods of time put excessive stress on your lower back's muscles, joints and nerves. Additionally if you standing with pelvis tucked under and your hips excessively forward this changed the distribution of the body's weight through the joints of the spine. Dependent on your posture this can places additional stress on some joints and muscles and cause others to switch off and not do their job. Having someone like a remedial massage therapist identity whether or not you need to make a change to you posture is essential to reduce the risk of lower back pain and treat the initial cause of the problem.
Over use, gym and everyday life jobs! Progressive overload plays a huge role in lower back pain. Often we dive back into sport or a heavy day of house jobs underestimating the affect it will have on our lower back. Our lower back relies on a group of core stabiliser muscles to support it. If these aren't strong and you jump in to a heavy load of training, excessive lifting (at home or in the gym!) these muscles fatigue and so you lower back is susceptible to pain, tightness or injury. Being mindful of getting back into training slowly, using good lifting techniques and taking regular breaks is essential to avoid lower back pain.
Sitting! Have you head of the phrase that 'sitting is the new smoking?' 1 in 6 people complain of lower back pain and lower back pain is the 3rd highest burden on the health system. With sitting in poor posture being one of the MAJOR causes of lower back pain, it is easy to understand why sitting is being called the new smoking! Making sure you understand what good seated posture looks like as well as taking regular breaks to get up and move about is essential to avoid lower back pain.
Lower Back Pathologies including Nerve, Disc and/Facet Related Conditions There is a group of conditions that can cause your lower back pain. If these are not addressed they can cause you significant pain, have long term affects and need significant treatment. There are a certain set of characteristics that these types of conditions present with. Having a remedial massage therapist or myotherapist who understands what to look for and who can refer you on when necessary is essential to ensure you get back on your feet as quickly as possible.
Poor biomechanical function Lower backs can be a 'barometer' for other areas of the body. If your hips, pelvis, knees, ankles or thoracic spine aren't movement properly this can place additional stress on the lower back and cause dysfunction. Often tightness and/or weakness in one or more area can change the way you move as well as the way load is distributed through your spine causing pain and/or dysfunction.
Poor Technique At Just Knead It we see a lot of different sports. Having a therapist who knows your sport is essential to understand all pieces of the puzzle. If you have poor technique when you lift weights, don't have the correct sequencing when you row, have a poor bowling technique, have the wrong bike set up when you ride you can get lower back pain. Making sure that technique is not a contributing factor to your lower back pain is essential to get you on the mend and keep you that way.
How we use massage and myotherapy to help lower back pain.
The first thing we need to identify is whether or not we can help. As remedial massage therapists and myotherapists it is our job to make sure we get you on the road to recovery as quickly as possible. Sometimes that means referring you on. We have a network of highly experienced health professionals who we can send you to. We make sure we pick someone who is an expert in the area we believe needs to be treated but also someone we believe you will connect with. We can then work with that health professional to create your a team approach to treatment, with a multimodality plan of attack. Our goal is to get you on the mend as quickly as possible.
Once we have identified if we can help and what could possibly be causing the pain or tightness we create a plan of attack and discuss it with you. We base our treatment on your needs and every treatment is slightly different. We retest as we go to ensure that we are creating a change and are on track to help you to feel better.
Some of the treatment technique we use to treat lower back conditions:
Deep tissue massage - Treating through your QLs, Gluts, Lats, Hip Muscles, Lower Back erectors as well as the muscles of your thoracic spine can help decrease lower back pain.
Neural glides - If there is mild irritation of the nerves from your lower back, doing gentle techniques such as neural glides which amigo move the nerves of the lower back along their pathways can help to decrease irritation of the area.
Trigger point therapy to your iliopsoas. Your Ilio-psoas muscle goes from your lumber vertebra into your pelvis and attaches onto your hip. If it gets too tight it can cause compression of the spine and in return lower back pain.
Trigger point therapy to gluts and hip flexors can quickly relieve lower back pain.
Strengthening exercises for lower back and core stabiliser muscles as well as help improve posture through strength can improve lower back pain.
Joint mobilisations for your thoracic spine, hips or lower back can help to improve pain and tightness in the area. .
Stretching of your hips, lower back and thoracic spine in treatments as well as at home is often used for lower back pain.
Myofascial Release (MFR) Fascia is a whole topic in itself. Often tightness in the fascia of the body can impact the lower back, particularly as you have a piece of fascia called your thoracolumbar fascia that can influence the lower back. The technique involves loosening off the fascia that connects and is around all muscles of the body. It can be painful but is quite effective.
Dry Needling of muscles we have identified could be impacting the lower back due to tightness.
If you have lower back pain or tightness it is essential to address it quickly. If you would like us to have a look at it or chat to us on the phone to see whether or not massage or myotherapy could help please give us a call or book in online or download the app.