Fact or Fiction, Article 4
Welcome to the fourth article of the “Fact or Fiction” series. In conjunction with SportsMEDiscussion, we are going to be bringing you weekly Sports Medicine related information, but with a twist. Our goal is to give you quality scientific information that interests you, but in an informal, laid-back way. We hope that you use this information to finish your week of right, or start your next week off strong!
We got your back!!
By Austin Martinez, MS, ATC, CSCS
“Ahh my back!!”... But how do we fix it? Rest, ice, heat, stretch, meds. But how often does that work? We have something better for you, exercises. Before we dive in more, take a look at Todd’s new video focusing on core and low back pain, it will help you understand the concepts more.
Many muscles attach to the bony structures that make up the lower back, the ones of importance I am going to talk about today are the hip flexors and hamstrings. The hip flexors are on the front of your hip and when tight they pull your hips down and forward, mimicking a “butt out” position. This puts a tremendous amount of compression on your lumbar spine, causing pain. Over time, this can cause degeneration and weaken the bones and discs within the vertebrae. Next is hamstrings tightness, the hamstrings are located in the back of your thigh and originate near the crease between your thigh and buttocks. When these muscles become tight they pull your hips down, mimicking a ”no butt” position. This position counteracts the muscles of your back, making them elongate more than usual which puts more stress on them.
Two things are going to be most effective: soft tissue therapy and core exercises. Soft tissue is going to focus on your problem areas, mainly on muscular tightness you’re experiencing. Work on stretching both your hip flexors and hamstrings. Also add rolling out on a lacrosse ball, these things will help you pinpoint trouble areas and focus on them.
Core exercises are what will rid you of back pain for years to come. They will be more effective and therefore more long lasting. When I say core I don’t just mean your abs, I mean your obliques, transverse abdominus, erector spina, multifidi, rotatores and pelvic floor muscles. Muscles you probably didn’t know you had or know how to use. The majority of lower back pain cases I see are caused by a weak core. Some great exercises: planks, dead bugs, and bird dogs (Todd’s Video). The core is the foundation of your body, allowing you to do complex motions with ease. The stronger your core, the harder it is for you’re hips to shift or misalign. With today’s society becoming less and less active, it’s easy to understand that our cores are becoming weaker. Overtime, everyday motions begin to put more strain on our bodies, until it finally breaks... In the end, the stronger your core, the more athletic you are, the easier activities become, and the less your back hurts.
Disclaimer: Consult your physician before beginning any rehabilitation or exercises program.