Lower Back Pain
This is a common ailment, in part due to how much time we spend sitting. Whether that’s working at a desk or driving for long periods, it all takes its toll on the lower back. Active folk aren’t immune either, as lifting and carrying, gardening and even swimming and doing weights with the wrong technique can cause a strain.
We all know that we are meant to bend our knees when we lift and use the strength of our legs, pelvis and core muscles to take the strain. This is because our lower back isn’t there to provide power, it helps keep our spine straight, holds up the upper body and isn’t designed to be the engine of lifting.
There’s lots of different muscles at play in lower back pain. It could be caused by tightness in the Hamstrings, the Psoas, Quadratus Lumborum, Erector Spinae or Piriformis, or a combination of these. A herniated or degenerated disc or structural issues such as curvature of the spine or misaligned pelvis can also be a factor, as can conditions such as osteoporosis. If you have ongoing lower back pain, consult your doctor to find out if massage could help or if other treatment is needed.
If your lower back pain is caused by the way you use your body, keeping your core muscles strong will really help. This means that when you are sitting for long periods, or lifting and carrying, the lower back isn’t called on to take more of the pressure than it can manage. Bizarre though it may sound, you actually need to have a strong core to sit for long periods of time!
Here’s a couple of exercises that can help to stretch out and maintain your lower back.
Your Quadratus Lumborum muscles, or QLs, are often involved in lower back pain. These are deep muscles that connect the spine to the pelvis and will take some of the strain if your Erector Spinae muscles aren’t strong enough to keep your back straight.
To stretch your QLs, either sitting or standing, hold your arm above your head and bend towards the opposite side, so your arm leans over the top of your head. Keep your feet and pelvis pointing forwards and only bend your upper body at the waist. Stretch and hold for up to 20 seconds then return to centre and let go. Do this 3 times on each side.
There are many core strengthening exercises, here’s a simple and easy one to try. Kneel on a mat on all fours with your hands under your shoulders and your legs under your hips. Slowly breathe in and extend your stomach out, and as you breathe out, pull your belly button in towards your spine. Do this 5-10 times.
This movement seems counter intuitive, so give yourself a few practise runs to get into the rhythm of it. This helps to recondition the transverse abdominals and is a great place to start if you’ve been sedentary for a while.
Here’s some super gentle lower back exercises from Darebee.com:
This information is designed for use in consultation with a trained massage professional. You attempt without supervision at your own risk, so go gentle and take care.