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Chronic and Lower Back Pain

Poor movement and muscle recruitment will cause back pain, but it typically be fixed in a short period of time by stretching, exercise, and diet change.

If the pain is felt in the lower back, above the glutes and around the hip joints, it is most likely piriformis syndrome. There is a small, flat, band-like muscle at the back of the hip and sits on the hip joint. This muscle, the piriformis, originates on the anterior surface of the sacrum and connects the most inferior part of the vertebrae to the upper part of the leg. When there is pain in this muscle, people have often confused it with a herniated disc. The pain actually comes from the piriformis muscle compressing down on the sciatic nerve, which runs alongside or through the muscle. It can feel like a sharp pain, numbness, or tingling sensation.

The piriformis muscle keeps lower body movements smooth and balanced, especially during extension, abduction, and external hip rotation. Since this muscle is small, if it overcompensates for weak glute muscles and tight hip flexors, it will likely spasm, compressing the sciatic nerve. To alleviate this pain, hip flexor and flexibility exercises (future blog ;)) can and should be performed. Focus mainly on strengthening the hip adductors.

When it comes to chronic back pain, there are likely three main reasons for it: 1. Systemic inflammation 2. overactive hip flexors 3. tight hips. To help fix chronic back pain, stretching, exercise, and a diet change should be considered.

A diet can greatly affect systemic inflammation. What we put into our bodies and how we choose to eat greatly influences our overall health. If we are consuming too much food, our bodies respond by causing inflammation, especially in susceptible areas like our joints. Also, if there is an intolerance to certain foods and we consume them, our bodies react with an immune response increasing inflammatory markers as a defense. When our bodies are in this state, we can feel stiff or tight. Some symptoms of food intolerances are digestive issues, brain fog, or sleep issues. Some foods that may need to be avoided are gluten, dairy, corn, soy, processed sugar, alcohol, and processed oils. Also cutting down portions should be expected.

The biggest cause of overactive hip flexors and weak core muscles comes from sitting most of our day. The hips become tight as the flexors are shortened and there is a lack of abdominal, oblique, and inner core strength. All of these just mentioned are a recipe for back pain. To help fix this particular issue, hip deactivator exercise is needed. (future blog) Loosening up our hip joints will put less work on our back which tends to compensate the most of any muscles. Stretching several times through out the day should be performed in order to loosen the hips.

Coach Steph

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