Have you ever woken up with an achy a back? It keeps you from doing the things you love to do. It pushes you to take pain killer and pain killer just to get short term release from the grasps of the pain monster. Some jump to the conclusion that because they have low back pain, they must have a bulging disk even though they have never been diagnosed. Now what if I told you that bulging disks can be asymptomatic? Meaning that even if you have a bulging disk, you may not experience pain. Ok, so where might this pain be coming from if you do not actually have an injury? There are three areas in which we can investigate; tight hips, overactive hip flexors and weak core and diet. Yes, that last one sounds far fetched, and we will most certainly dive into that later.
When looking at the hips, let first think of it in an anatomical sense. The hips are the region in which our lower body meets our upper body. When the hips get tight, they will take it out on its closest neighbor, the low back. Our body is a system of kinetic chains. The chain that holds the low back is known as the posterior chain. It stretches from the feet to the lumbar spine consisting of the all of the muscle and joints in between. Anywhere is the chain can be a root of pain to that low back.
Now let’s take a look at how overactive hip flexors and a weak core can cause low back pain. The hip flexor, aka psoas major, originates on L1 to L4 lumbar spine and attaches to the lesser trochanter of the femur. On other words, it is a long band of muscle that connects the low back to the thigh. When this muscle become overactive or tight, it pulls on the lumbar spine creating a tilt in the pelvis. This tilt can pinch the disk in the low back which can result in pain. Looking at the spine itself, it can be seen that its “strength” and stability comes from the muscles around it. The core muscles, abdominal and spinal muscles, hold the responsibility of protecting the spine and giving its upright position. When these muscles become weak, the spine loses it support. Without it, our spine becomes susceptible to painful positions.
The last and most eyebrow raising cause of low back pain is our diet. When we ingest foods that create bloating, systemic inflammation can occur. When our gastrointestinal tract becomes inflamed, the intestines put pressure on the surrounding joints which can result in pain. Some of the food that cause systemic inflammation consist of eggs, gluten, dairy, alcohol and processed sugars and vegetables oils such as canola and corn. Overeating can also lead to systemic inflammation., so simply eating smaller portions can help. It’s pretty crazy how a simple change of diet can aid in reducing low back pain.
So, there you have it. Now I am not saying that if you have experienced an injury to your low back that these will eliminate your pain, but it is a great way to start. Remember that our health is a lifelong investment, so keep it simple. Properly strengthen your core, stretch, and eat right and a lot of health issues can be reduced and even eliminated.
If you are experiencing low back pain and would like to do something about it, contact me for a guidance.