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Back Pain - Part 1

Do you suffer from back pain?

Whether it’s intermittent or chronic, you’re not alone.

It’s estimated that up to 80% of people will suffer from some form of back pain at some point in their lives.

Here are some more facts:

- An estimated $50 billion is spent in America each year treating back pain

- Back pain is one of the most common causes for missing work

- Back pain is the single leading cause of disability worldwide according to the Global Burden of Disease 2010

- Most causes of back pain are not caused by a serious condition

It is the last point that interests me the most; In most cases there is no serious, underlying condition meaning – it can be fixed.

The majority of cases where this can be fixed without a serious medical procedure are based around soft tissue management, which is what I’m going to look at here.

Soft tissue describes things that aren’t bone; muscles, tendons, ligaments and fascia, amongst other things. This complex system controls our posture and how we move and it does this by pulling on bones, producing movement.

If certain muscles in this system become short and tight then their opposing muscles may become long and weak, skewing the balance the body needs to move efficiently and pain-free. Our back is surrounded by some of the bodies’ biggest, most powerful muscles and imbalances here can cause back pain. Here are a few examples:

Lower Crossed Syndrome

Focusing on the anterior pelvic tilt aspect - This is when the pelvis is tilted excessively forward when standing, resulting in a posture that may make you look like your bum is sticking out. The appearance of this excessively perky posterior is usually the result of a combination of causes – tight hip-flexors, tight erector spinae, weak abs, glutes and hamstrings. This can result in a feeling of tightness in the lower back and the overly-shortened erector spinae muscles are more likely to be strained as a result.

The fix? In most cases this can be managed quite easily. You need to bring the pelvis back to its natural alignment and you can do this by correcting the muscular imbalances.

Stretch – hip flexors, erector spinae, TFL and adductors

Strengthen – abs, glutes and hamstrings

Incorrect glute recruitment can be a big factor here. If your glutes aren’t doing the work they should be then something else will be picking up the slack. They are a strong extender of the hip – make sure you use them!

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