This may come to a surprise to some readers, but lower back discomfort may not necessarily be from having tight lower back muscles. There are other factors to consider when dealing with such an issue, especially if you have a desk job where you sit all day. You should keep in consideration that when you are sitting your hips are flexed. When your hips are flexed your hip flexors, such as the psoas muscles are contracted. That means the two insertion points of the muscles, or in other words the attachments of the muscles are brought closer together. Our muscles have mega memory, and if kept that way for an extended period of time they can tighten. This may lead to them remaining partially flexed once a person stands. This can cause a lot of problems within the lower back and hip region. If one doesn’t properly stretch out the muscles, the muscle may become stiff and sore, this can cause the hips to rotate forward and may strain the lower back. It may also cause a decrease in the range of motion, as the muscles may stay shortened. Leading the the tight muscles to pull the bones out of alignment. It is crucial to know that if your bones start to go out of alignment, it can create greater problems than minor lower back discomfort. If out of alignment for an extended period of time, the vertebral discs may start to degenerate as the friction between vertebrae is increased. This can also lead to impingement of the sciatic nerve.
I don’t know if you know this but the psoas muscles (hip flexors), attach on your lumbar vertebra. When the psoas muscles are really tight they can pull the lumbar(lower) back vertebrae anteriorly. When this happens it can cause a lot of discomfort, even pain in the lower back. This is why it is really important to stretch out those hip flexors of yours. There are a lot of yoga poses and stretches to help you be on your way to loosening up your hips. Holding a standing lunge, keeping the torso/back extended is one way to stretch them. If you find that hard you can feel free to lower the back knee. Just make sure the front knee of the leg that is supporting you is above the ankle, to prevent any injury.
Now I know I was focusing on the hip flexors as a main factor to why one may be experiencing lower back pain. That does not mean I am stating it is the only reason for it. One may experience lower back pain if their hip extenders are also tight. The main muscle group being what we refer to as the hamstrings, located in the posterior thigh. The majority of the hamstrings attach superiorly on the ischial tuberosity. The ischial tuberosity is a landmark on the lower part of the hip bones. There is one on each side (left & right). It is common to have tight hamstring muscles, regardless if your occupation consists of standing or sitting all day. With standing all day the muscle group tends to keep contracting so one can keep their balance. The same muscles that extend the hip, the hamstrings, also flex the knee. That is why sitting all day is especially bad on ones lower back. The knee and hips are both flexed causing a pulling action from the front and back of the hips. With the attachment of the hamstrings, or what I sometimes refer to as the hammies, being at the bottom of the hip bones. When they are shortened it causes then to pull the bones downward. This may also lead to straining of the lower back. With the hips getting pulled out of their proper positioning it lengthens, and strains the muscles of the lower back that attach to the superior portion of the hip bones. These muscles include the glutes and erector spinea muscles. Making sure you have strong lower back and glute muscles will help prevent this from happening drastically.
One of the main lower back muscles that tends to be affected the most with people who have lower back pain, is the quadrates lumborum. This muscle attaches to the superior portion of the hip and the lumbar vertebra. This is why when one is suffering from any type of lower back pain, you should always target the lower back and hips together. There are many yoga poses and stretches to help target your lower back and hip muscles. I would highly recommend trying a class today. I know I try to do cenergy class at least once or twice a week to help keep my back and hips in proper alignment. This is the yoga and pilates inspired class at the Golds gym. The Golds gym in the East end of Regina is where you will currently find me, as I am renting space to help those who may be in need of a massage. I would gladly help you in a massage treatment, to loosen up any of your tired and tightened muscles!
Amanda Jackman; R.M.T.