• Dr. Casey Campbell

Do you have low back pain and tight gluts? Please read!

There is a well known connection between low back pain and weak gluts and abdominal muscles. This correlation is called Lower Crossed Syndrome. Although lumbar and SI joint Chiropractic adjustments may provide temporary relief, muscle weaknesses and imbalances must also be rehabilitated to fully address the root cause of low back pain that is related to Lower Crossed Syndrome.

Another source of low back pain due to muscle weaknesses are Myofascial trigger points. Weak muscles often become tight and can form extremely painful trigger points (very irritated knots in the muscle that cause pain away from the problem). When a person comes to Dr. Campbell for low back pain, she always checks the glut muscles for trigger points. This is because trigger points can be a major source of pain and can hinder any rehabilitation efforts on the muscles. Research has shown that muscles with trigger points cannot strengthen as effectively as healthy muscles. Therefore, it is important to eliminate any trigger points before you start strengthening a muscle group. Once your pain is manageable and the muscles are healthy, Dr.Campbell will give you at-home exercises and stretches which will help you reverse this problem and prevent it from reoccurring. See below for some of these exercises.

So What Is This Problem Characterized By?

Lower crossed syndrome is characterized by a forward tilt to your pelvis, putting extra strain and pressure where your low back meets your sacrum. This is a common source of low back pain that goes across the base of your spine. Often, this low back pain is increased when the person leans back into extension.

What Causes Lower Crossed Syndrome?

The weak abdominal and glut muscles that are present in lower crossed syndrome are usually due to long hours spent sitting, and a lack of focus on strengthening these areas. In our society, sitting at work and in the car are often unavoidable. But, the great thing is that you can reverse these muscle weaknesses by taking time out of your busy day to focus on a few simple exercises.

The Exercises For Lower Crossed Syndrome

  1. Core bracing: This can be performed while you are standing, or while laying on your back. You will contract your core and your pelvic floor muscles. You can learn how to contract your pelvic floor muscles by stopping your stream of pee, mid-flow. How to brace your core: tighten your mid region as if you are preparing for someone to punch you in the stomach. Now, you will combine the core bracing with the pelvic floor contraction. While standing upright or laying flat on your back, brace your core and squeeze your pelvic floor muscles for 5 seconds. Repeat this 10-15 times. Repeat 3 times per day.

2. Piriformis Strengthening: Your piriformis muscle performes hip external rotation (bringing your knee away from your midline while your knee is bent at 90 degrees). When your piriformis muscle is contracted, it pulls your pelvis down and tilts it backwards. This allows you to reduce the amount of extension in your low back, and relieve the pressure off of where the base of your spine meets your sacrum. Here is how to perform this exercise:

  1. Lie down on your stomach with both legs straight.

  2. Keep your left leg extended. Bend your right knee at an angle just less than 90 degrees. Place your right ankle on your left calf. This should look like a figure 4 with you laying on your stomach.

  3. Squeeze your glut muscles and lift your right knee off of the ground, while keeping your right ankle pushed down onto your left calf. Your right knee should be 1-2 inches off of the ground while your right ankle stays down. You should feel your external hip muscles activate. Slowly lower your right knee to the ground.

  4. Repeat 20 to 30 times, and then switch legs.

3. Hamstring stretch: Sitting with your back and legs straight, pull your leg up using a towel as high as possible and hold for 30 seconds. Repeat 3 times per side. It is very important for you to hinge forward at the hip, and not the low back while performing this stretch. A trick to doing this is to keep your back in extension and bring your entire torso forward towards your leg, leading with your chest.

4. Quadraceps and Gluts strengthening: To strengthen your quads, perform wall sits! With your back firmly pressed against a wall, squat down so your knees are bent at 90 degrees. Hold this seated position while leaning back against the wall. Try to work your way up to being able to perform a wall sit for 30 seconds. Repeat 5 times.

I hope this article was helpful for you! Please let me know if you have any questions!

Author: Dr. Casey Campbell BSc., D.C.

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