Have you ever noticed lower back pain that seems to keep popping up out of nowhere? Or that your back seems to give way as you are performing a routine task? Even though the lower back pain may seem out of place, it is most often a sign that the body is moving in a very inefficient manner, especially in the spine and hip areas. This region of the body acts as a foundation and one of our main balance points for our upright movement (i.e. standing, walking, running, etc.). As such, the culprit may very well be hyper-mobility (too much flexion and movement) in the joints between the spine and the hips called the sacroiliac joints.
How Does This Happen?
The sacroiliac joints are located in the triangular intersection between the bottom portion of the spine (sacrum) and the hip bones (illium). They, along with the surrounding musculature, are responsible for carrying most of our upper-body weight when we are in an upright position. This means that the typical range of motion for this specific area is very narrow at between 3mm-5mm.
However, prolonged periods of sedentary activity poor posture, and sitting can increase the range of motion (hyper-mobility) while adding extra weighted pressure to sacroiliac joints. As a result, the lower spine and hip areas become unstable (lumbopelvic instability). This can lead to tightness, pain, and the misalignment of the spine and hips. All these factors combined can result in the back giving out, pulled muscles, and back injuries.
The body is like a machine. If the parts are overworked beyond the intended usage, it develops extra stress points in the structure and becomes more prone to breakage.
What Can I Do to Address Lower Back Pain?
Although lower back pain can be a big nuisance, there are several ways to address the issue. We recommend the following:
- It is important to stay active! Get up and stretch at least once per hour of computer/desk work. And even if one doesn’t have an office job, 1 hour a day of intentional physical activity is still advisable.
- Be mindful of your posture. Sitting up straight greatly decreases the amount of weight, pressure, and tension that is put on the spine and hips. This is because your overall weight becomes evenly distributed throughout the hips, spine, and neck rather than a weight imbalance concentrated to certain areas.
- Stretch and release the hip flexors, quadriceps, and hamstrings. These are the muscles that become over-activated and tight to stabilize us when we sit for long periods of time.
- Strengthen the glutes and the core. These are the muscle groups that become under-activated and weak when we sit for long periods of time. This is because the hip flexors, quadriceps, and hamstrings act as the main stabilizers while the glutes and the core become underused. However, the latter act as the main stabilizers for when we are in an upright position, especially in motion.
- If you are struggling with severe chronic back pain, there could be an underlying medical condition. It is very important to consult the appropriate medical professionals.