This post is written by Sevenoaks Personal Trainer and Exercise Prescription Specialist Christina Moore
A large number of clients and the general public suffer from lower back pain and the majority of the time it has been there for a long time! Around 60% of the adult population can expect to have a back problem at some time in their life. Although this is a pain that affects us on a daily basis, it is also a pain that very few people seek medical advice for.
Common symptoms of lower back pain in an active population include one or a combination of the following:
- An ache when stood in the same position for too long
- Non-specific pain when sat down for a long period of time, particularly when driving
- Tight hamstrings, glutes and or hip flexors
- Non-specific widespread pain across the top of the glutes and or the small of the lower back
- Referred pain traveling down either one or both legs
Unless there is an underlying spinal problem with more severe symptoms, generally lower back pain will be due to an imbalance in the surrounding muscles. In fact 80-90% of lower back pain is due to a biomechanical imbalance.
A large number of people will suffer with referred pain to the lower back, a lot of the time coming from tension in a little muscle called the ‘piriformus’ which sits within the glutes (as seen above) . This little muscle can cause a lot of trouble when not kept free from tension! It can be the origin of an achy sensation in the back and/or it can replicate the same neurological pain as sciatica. Therefore when your trainers suggest you roll out on your glutes either using a foam roller or a softball, it is a good idea!
Muscular imbalances can occur for various reasons, the first and probably most common is posture. We all know what a “good” posture should be ‘stand up straight, shoulders back!’, however there is more to this when it comes to lower back pain, the most important factor to look at is hip positioning from a side on view.
If there is either an exaggerated anterior or posterior tilt of the pelvis, certain muscle groups will tighten up and others will be placed on a constant stretch. Either way this will create challenges when it comes to training, but overcoming challenges are what keep us coming back!
The second reasoning is over training “favourite” muscle groups and neglecting the others, so many people are victim to this. We all have our favourite exercises that we are good at! Examples of this with the lower back in question is over training of superficial abdominal muscles to gain that beach body “six pack”, yet forgetting about the deep core muscles that provide stability and protection to the lower back. These deeper core muscles can be targeted with exercises such as a plank or leg lowers.
This is not an extensive list of reasons and resolutions for lower back pain, but it’s a starting point. If you have any questions feel free to get my attention in the gym at any time.
To book a free 30min back pain consultation with Sevenoaks Personal Trainer and Exercise Prescription Specialist Christina call 01732 451 979
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Koes, B. W., Tulder, M. W. and Thomas, S. (2006). Diagnosis and treatment of low back pain. BMJ, 332.
Savigny, P., Watson, P. and Underwood, M. (2009). Early management of persistent non-specific low back pain: summary of NICE guidance. BMJ, 338.