Do you have severe lower back pain? If so, you are not alone. Eight out of ten Americans will typically experience back pain during their lifetime. In the APTA Move Forward Survey, 54% of Americans have pain in their lower backs while spending the majority of their day sitting at desks for work.
Ok, so this is an issue. What do we do about it?
First, if you think you have any back issues that are major or beyond regular discomfort, consult your doctor. Slipped or herniated discs in your back are nothing to try and remedy yourself, but they can be overcome with a good physical therapist or surgery.
But for those having a lighter discomfort level, sit up a little straighter and keep reading. Here are the most common things that cause low back pain and some suggestions for fixing or alleviating the pain.
Severe lower back pain can be complex…
Your body is comprised of a variety of different types of joints and joints sets. Think about it. Your shoulder joint works and looks different than your knee joint. There are many different types of joints in your body. Each one does a different function. Your shoulder is supposed to move around in many different directions, right? Yes. What if your knee did that? Weird and uncomfortable. Just like you shoulders or hips should be loose and mobile, your knees and low back are supposed to be stable and secure. They need to be able to move appropriately when the situation calls for it, but they are not intended to be extremely mobile joints. They need to be strong and stable.
This is all part of Joint-by-Joint Theory.
It states that joint sets are stacked, and the joint sets alternate functionally as stable and mobile. So moving up the chain, a stable joint will sit on top of a mobile joint. It will alternate this pattern all the way from your toes to your head.
The theory also states that this relationship between joints can also cause a problem. If one joint is not performing its job correctly then the joint sets on either side of the chain with being affected as well. Often times, the joint set experiencing the pain is not the problem! It can be the joint set below or above that is actually the problem. Mind-blowing.
So let’s look at the lower back and see how it applies to this theory. The joints below your low back (lumbar spine) are your hips. Clue number 1. The joint above you lumbar spine (low back) is your thoracic spine(mid back). Both your hips and your thoracic spine are supposed to be mobile joints.
Here is how it is rationalized out
If your mid back or hips are really tight when you move or do anything, then your low back has to overcompensate to make up that lack of movement.
Your kinetic chain is like a string of different sized rubber bands all connected. If you stretch the line of rubber bands the looser ones are going to be the ones that stretch the most. The smaller, stronger ones will give less.
If the rubber bands are in the wrong order in your body, then different bands or joints are performing the wrong function. Your low back shouldn’t be making up the lack of mobility that your hips or mid back are lacking. This could likely be the cause of your severe lower back pain.
Here are your next steps to test this
Buy a foam roller or use the one at your gym. Watch a couple of youtube videos or read my article here with pictures on how to get started on fixing your severe lower back pain.
Just start with a commitment of rolling for 15 minutes a day. As you spend time on the roller learning how it works and how your body works, you will soon discover what is tighter and what needs to be worked on every day. A good rule of thumb is, “if it hurts, it is probably what need the most attention.” You will start to see and feel results in 2-3 months and permanent effects after a year. You are literally redirecting the way your body works and feels for the rest of your life.
For 15 minutes each day, work on rolling your mid back, the front/back/side of your legs, hips, glutes, and sides. Roll everything around the area that hurts. After rolling out the tight muscles it is ok to stretch, but remember that the foam rolling comes first before stretching. It is important to break up the connective tissue in your muscles before you start trying to stretch the muscle.
Core exercises after you roll out are the next best thing to do
After you have mobilized the joints around you low back, it is important to stabilize your low back. Start with “deadbugs” and then gradually move to planks.
Remember, your low back is not the problem. Do not work on stretching your low back unless it is recommended by a physical therapist. Also, don’t work on strengthening the muscles directly in the low back. Work more on glutes strength and proper posture.
Look for more articles to come on the exercises that directly help your low back pain. Good luck this week with your paleo lifestyle! Stay strong and healthy.