3 Common Back Problems

There is an alarming number of people that suffer from lower back pain. My guess? You’re one of them.

Let me show you the 3 most common reasons WHY people suffer lower back pain, show you the SOLUTIONS to these PROBLEMS and help you work towards becoming PAIN FREE

Whilst also covering off on one thing you need to know about how your nutrition may be affecting your back pain.

Let’s begin

There is an alarming number of people that suffer from back pain. In Australia, 1 in 6 people suffer from back pain each YEAR. That’s 3.7 million people in our country. The vast majority however do not develop their back pain due to an acute injury. If there has been an injury, quite often many people suffer from chronic back pain long after the initial injury has healed. Sometimes there was no injury at all.

With my experience I very commonly see back pain that did not originate from an injury.

The majority of chronic back pain I see in my clients was a result of poor movement and muscle recruitment patterns. Either these recruitment patterns caused bad movement which set them up for injury or these bad movements caused inflammation in the muscles, ligaments & tendons of the back, this inflammation causes terrible pain and sometimes the pain is daily.

The GOOD news is that pain due to poor movement patterns can typically be fixed in relatively short periods of time when the right types of treatment, stretches and exercise are introduced. I have recently found out even more ways that can help your chronic back pain is even through some dietary changes which we will go into further on later in this article. The even better news is that I have written down 3 common reasons people suffer from back pain and led with examples on ways you can possibly help yourself eliminate some of these causes to your pain to help you become PAIN FREE!

The most common pain complaint I get as a therapist and trainer is easily LOWER BACK PAIN. Some studies have estimated that as much as 80% of the population will suffer from lower back pain in their life, with that number only increasing due to today’s society trends and occupations. These include a lot of sitting in a vehicle during transit, sitting at the office, extremely common and simple mistakes people make during their workouts and even through today’s common dietary trends.

With back pain being one of the worst places to have sore on your body here are 3 of the most common reasons why people have lower back pain.

Reason 1: Overactive Hip Flexors & Weak Core Muscles

In today’s society its common to see people with tight hip flexors.

This is likely due to the fact that we sit for most of the day. When we are in a seated position our hip flexors are shortened, due to the length of time that we sit for in this shortened position, the hip flexors tend to get tight. If we combine this with a lack of overall abdominal, oblique and inner core muscle strength, we have a recipe for back pain.

If you think this may be you, the solution is to NOT go do a bunch of sit ups.

If you do that, all that will happen is you will most likely activate and use your hip flexors while your core muscles play ‘help’ in the background. This will only make your back pain worse which is why sit ups and crunches have a bad name for creating back pain.

Before working the core it is important to ‘disengage’ the hip flexors and activate the core muscles. We can do this through our general hip flexor stretch and then activate the core and glutes through warm-up techniques or we can teach the body to do all of that together through a very simple but effective warm-up exercise which I have demonstrated below.

Part 1: Lie with your back against the floor and heels up on a bench as shown Xceed Sports Clinic Back Pain Part 2: Very slightly raise the hips by activating and squeezing your GLUTES (your bum!) Xceed Sports Clinic Back Pain Part 3: In this same position with the glutes engaged we then crunch nice and slowly using only our abdominals. Xceed Sports Clinic Back Pain This picture is at the top range of the movement, as you can see my shoulder blades are barely off the ground. Hands can either be on your chest as shown or behind your head if preferred.This is a perfect way to get your abdominals and core muscles engaged without using the hip flexors to greatly assist the movement! 
Reason 2: Tight Hips
Whenever someone comes to me with a complaint of back pain, I can almost count on the fact that they will also have tight hips.A lot of the time they go hand in hand.Loosening up those hips allows them to move more freely so that the lower back doesn’t have to compensate as much. Now particular muscles in the hips region can cause even greater issues, the Piriformis for example, when tight it can cause impingement on the sciatic nerve causing sciatica type symptoms.In the clinic we often loosen these muscle groups through manual manipulation (using different massage techniques with hands) or even sometimes through the use of Dry Needling which is another great way to relieve muscle tension.However, there are others ways at home or in the office that we can do to also help loosen our hips.
An easy way to do this is the seated leg crossover hip stretch which can be done almost anywhere! In fact, quite a few of my clients do this stretch every 30-60 minutes that they are sitting down. Sometimes this alone but also with a simple hip flexor stretch the results are almost always great!I have provided an example of the stretch below.
Reason 3: Overactive or Tight Quadratus Lumborum (QL)
(This muscle is located between the bottom of the rib cage and the pelvis.)Essentially, the QL contributes to the stabilisation and movement of the spine and the pelvis along with a few other uses.A typical cause of an overused QL is the habit of sitting at the desk using a reclined seat, this releases the intrinsic back muscles, or sitting back in the car and leaning to one side. These muscles must now be compensated by the QL leading to painful stiffening.Other causes can be direct damage, weak glutes or any other imbalance of the pelvis or spine which forces the QL to stabilise them. A shortened or tight QL can restrict pelvic movement, pull the rib cage down and put an abnormal curve in your back, making you APPEAR to have SCOLIOSIS or a SHORT LEG.How many times have people been misdiagnosed with one of these symptoms without the use of scans or any other measurement tools.Before you start focusing on working on the QL, it is very important to first clear the hips and pelvis. It is very important to eliminate all the reasons any imbalances are occurring. In the clinic we generally assess and treat the full body along with the QL in time to find any issues.There are some stretches you can do to target the QL but as previously stated remember to always look at the bigger picture with this muscle.
(Bonus) Reason 4: Systemic Inflammation
How we eat greatly influences our overall health in many ways that most are aware of, what you may not be aware of is that what we eat can influence how ‘inflamed’ our bodies become.A diet that is high in ‘pro inflammatory’ foods tends to make susceptible joints and areas of the body hurt. Pro inflammatory foods include those that people commonly have intolerances to.When you have a food intolerance this means your body has a low level immune reaction to food. Symptoms may include digestive issues, skin issues and sleep issues just to name a few. Because intolerances are an immune reaction your body increases its inflammatory markers to mount up a defence.This state makes everything feel more stiff and makes areas that are susceptible hurt more.A list of common foods that the population may have intolerances to include: gluten, dairy, eggs, soy, processed sugar, alcohol and processed vegetable oils like canola and corn oil.If you do think you may have food intolerances the next step is to visit your GP or dietitian.Overeating can also increase systemic inflammation so try not to over eat! In some people dietary change alone can severely aid in eliminating their pain.
Thank You
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