I have seen many clients over the years complaining of low back pain. They usually let me know that this has been going on for quite some time, and seem to feel that they have been sentenced to a life of chronic aches and occasional bouts of "throwing out" their back. Left unattended, low back pain is sure to quietly creep up on us until we do that one wrong move….and then BAM….out of commission and in serious pain for days, or maybe even weeks.
Well, with a little care and attention, this does not have to be the case. There are measures you can take to eliminate or at least lessen your back pain.
First, it is helpful to understand some common causes of pain in the low back. Our daily lives keep us sitting A LOT.…in the car, at the office, at home on the couch. Sitting so much can start to wear on the low back, but it's not the muscles of the low back themselves, usually. So what is it then? Tight hamstrings and/or hip flexors. The hamstrings are the muscle group located on the back of the thigh. The hip flexors are made of up of a few different muscles, including one of the "quads" called the rectus femoris, and the psoas muscles, located deep in the abdomen. Both the hamstrings and hip flexors attach onto the pelvis, so any tightness there will pull on the pelvis one way or another, causing strain on the low back. Tight muscles also put more pressure on the nerves and even the discs of the lower back, which can also cause pain. There can also be some tightness through the gluteal muscles (back of the hip) which can affect how the low back is feeling.
So it is no wonder then, that when a massage therapist hears "low back pain", the first thing we want to check out are the leg and gluteal muscles. Massage can help lengthen these chronically shortened muscles back to their neutral state. Once they are moving well, the legs can move freely from the pelvis, making them less likely to pull on the spine and cause back pain.