What are the Causes of Lower Back Pain?
Chronic lower back pain affects 80% of Americans at one point or another, according to the UNC School of Medicine. “Low back pain is the second most common cause of disability in the U.S. and a common reason for missing work,” says Timothy Carey, M.D. and Director of the Sheps Center for Health Services Research. “Since the costs of back pain are rising, current treatments overall do not seem to be very effective.”
“Lower back pain” is a vague term for a complex symptom. The pain could be linked to a number of possible activities, injuries, or lifestyle choices. It can stem from picking up a heavy box, repetitive movements at work, or bad posture. Most commonly referenced causes of lower back pain according to SpineHealth.com:
- Strains and sprains
- Repetitive twisting motion of the spine
- Lifting an exceedingly heavy object
- Sudden movements — a fall, for instance — which place too much stress on the lower back
- Poor posture
- Athletic injuries
The current treatments are not effective. With many possible causes, health care providers struggle to find the pain’s source. SpineHealth.com assembled a great high-level list but they’re glossing over a common cause. The most common source of lower back pain is often overlooked: gluteus muscles.
Pain in the Glutes: The Likely Source of Your Lower Back Pain
The pain in your lower back is often not directly related to your back at all. Unfortunately, this is one of the best kept secrets in healthcare. It can take an expert in muscle function, not pain management, to discover this root cause.
The glutes are comprised of the gluteus maximus, gluteus medius, and the gluteus minimus: your buttocks. These muscles are activated when you raise or rotate your legs or move your hips. They’re also the muscles that you sit on if you have a desk job.
According to this study 86% of Americans sit for an average of 13 hours a day. Some as many as 21 hours! The correlation between the 80% who suffer from lower back pain is undeniable.
Excessive sitting is linked to a number of serious health issues. One of the side effects of prolonged sitting is “limp glutes.” Sitting demands nothing of your glutes and makes the muscle group soften. Soft glutes directly affect your stability, your ability to stand, and your ability to maintain a stride.
“The spine is influenced by muscles that exert forces upon its joints to impart tensions or stiffness,” Bill Fabrocini, clinical specialist in orthopedic physical therapy, says of stability. “External forces across the joints of the spine can be balanced and adjusted to mitigate compressive loads and establish equilibrium.”
A soft bottom will throw off your stability and exert too much force and tension on your spine. This force leads to a tight, pained lower back.
How to Treat Your Chronic Lower Back Pain, Naturally
There are a number of suggestions for how to address lower back pain. Ibuprofen, hot and cold compresses, a new mattress, orthotics, and cognitive-behavioral therapy to name a few.
None of these suggestions address your soft glutes. Soft glutes don’t support your lumbar spine, resulting in chronic lower back pain. The best way to treat your back pain is to get your butt moving!
Natural Remedies for Chronic Lower Back Pain
- If your job requires you to sit, make a habit of taking a short walk before work or after your lunch break. This will strengthen your glutes and relieve the pressure on your lower spine.
- Take the stairs instead of the elevator to flex your glutes and hip muscles, training them to support your lumbar spine.
- Try this seated leg-to-chest exercise from the Low Back Pain Program. It aims to stretch each gluteus muscle group, increase the flexibility in your hips, and strengthen your core.
- Sign up for a weekly yoga class to alleviate chronic lower back pain and ensure that all your muscles are being stretched. For a simplified version, follow an online tutorial such as this one.
Regular exercise can improve posture, muscle tone, balance and joint mobility. If you need immediate relief in the interim, seek help from a licensed massage therapist who specializes in treating and managing chronic lower pain. Working to strengthen your glutes will have your pain resolved sooner than you think.