Monday, February 21, 2011

Why we hurt: Lower Back Pain (Part I)

FACT: 80% of all people in America will have back pain at one point or another in their lives.

FACT: Back pain is the 2nd most common visit to the doctor's office, surpassed only by upper respiratory infections.

FACT: Americans spend at least $86 billion each year on lower back pain.

Question: why!!!?

5 simple reasons

1) Flat butt/glutes. Sometimes referred to a BASS, or back that bypasses the ass and continues to the hamstring, this is a huge contributor to back pain. No glutes to fire with each stride? Hip flexors begin pulling (one of hip flexors actually originates in lower back) = back pain. In addition, the pelvis is turned under the weight of the torso, and sitting is usually uncomfortable.

2) Industrial/internet evolution. As humans evolved, the pelvis tilted under the spine forcing a lordotic (C-shape) lumbar curve, thus allowing for an upright stance. This happened over 1000's of years. Then, within 120 years or so, the industrial and internet revolution happened and people began sitting more. This causes a more posterior pelvic tilt (and causes flat butt/lack of glutes). This posterior tilted position is the #1 cause for mechanical
dysfunction in the lumbar spine.

3) Lack of hip mobility. If the muscles surrounding the hips are tight (structurally, the hip joint is a very stable joint), then any force that should be transferred or absorbed by the hip joint is now transferred to the lower back or knee. Any client of mine with lower back pain (and without a disc issue) will usually feel better when their hip muscles are opened up with mobility drills.

4) Glute amnesia: Simply put, if the glutes do not fire, then another muscle will be forced into action. One of the reasons good and great athletes have very pronounced glutes is because they realize the implications in both performance and injury prevention that the glutes can have.

5) Your core training sucks: topic for a whole new article, but if you are training your core by bringing your sternum towards your pelvis while lying on the ground (think crunch/situp), you are exacerbating the problem by using primarily hip flexors for the movement. In turn, these hip flexors pull on the lumbar spine with upwards of 700 newtons of force placed upon the discs. Such an extraordinary amount of force should NEVER be placed upon the lumbar spine.

Reasons 6-10 will be explained in a future article, as will corrective, mobility and activation drills in a future video series.

-In improving health

Coach Kev

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