Back pain is the number 1 problem that we see, and after treating over 25,000 people in our clinic, we know that often the actual cause of your problem is located nowhere near the pain you feel.
These “hidden causes” of back pain are more common than you think and if left unidentified your back pain may not get better or continue to come back. This can leave you feeling frustrated and unable to enjoy life as you would like.
Once you have identified the true cause of your back pain it can be correctly managed, meaning you do not have to put up with pain- no matter how long you have had it for!
We are often consulted for second opinions from patients who have been to other clinics where they simply massaged the sore area for a bit and prescribed some generic exercises. This works in about 50% of cases with simple back pain but is completely wrong for any back pain that is re-occurring or present for more than 8 weeks.
A massage may feel like just what you need, and may even help you feel better for a day or two, however the cause of the problem has not been fixed and the pain will come back.
So, if you have been suffering from back pain that keeps coming back, read on about the 5 hidden causes of back pain & what you can do about it- might just change everything!
We will reveal:
- The muscle located at the front of your spine that may be causing your back pain
- The muscle in your butt you should be stretching
- Why stretching your back may not be the answer
- How your gut may be causing back pain
- Why strengthening your core may be the worst thing you can do for ongoing back pain
1. Tight hip flexors (psoas muscle)
If you are an office worker or someone who sits for long periods of time, then this is your number one muscle to target. The psoas muscle attaches to the FRONT of your spine and then into your thigh bone. When you sit it bunches up and shortens. If you don’t stretch it out regularly it can pull on the lumbar spine.
If you get up from the chair and feel stiff in your lower back then this is the stretch for you. The key is to do this stretch regularly, not just when you feel stiff. Complete this stretch 2-3 times a day for 3-5 minutes to have long-lasting relief.
- Take legs into a split position, keeping hips square.
- The back knee can rest on the ground or elevated as shown in the image.
- Push hips forward to feel the stretch through the front of the pelvis.
- Hold the stretch for 30 seconds and swap sides.
- Repeat twice, 2-3 times per day.
2. Tight glute muscles ( i.e your butt)
These muscles often get tight after a bout of back pain and if not addressed can stay tight and overload the lower back. Almost all back pain patients have tightness in at least one of the gluteal muscles, and in most cases releasing this muscle provides the biggest relief- even though this was not where they had the pain (which typically presents above the waistline). We tend to find that the deep and smaller muscles are the ones that “tighten up”.
The best way for you to assess and treat these tight muscles is with a spikey ball or lacrosse ball. Place the ball against a wall and lean into it. You will feel the spots that are sensitive and tight – these are the ones that need to be released.
Follow with some stretches as follows:
3. Weak glutes
This is especially common in two groups of people:
- Office workers that don’t work out regularly
- Chronic back pain patients
Your gluteal muscles are the powerhouse of your back, strong glutes will go a long way in helping your back to function properly. Often in people with chronic back pain, we find one side of the glutes significantly weaker than the other side, and if the problem has been around for years, there may be a significant difference in muscle mass ( smaller muscles are always weaker). A specific strengthening program is essential to get the weaker muscles stronger to support the lower back.
Here is a test you can do to compare your left and right sides. Can you feel the difference in muscle strength?
4. Chronic inflammation
There is increasing evidence and research to indicate that what happens in our gut affects our entire body. A diet high in processed foods and alcohol can disrupt the normal balance in the gut and can lead to numerous health conditions such as pain in muscle and joints around the body. Even though your pain may feel very muscular and it hurts to touch, the underlying cause may be a chronic gut inflammation issue.
You should consider this as a potential source of your pain if you:
- Wake up with your back pain
- Have multiple sites of pain and achy joints
- Lack of energy and vitality and wake up feeling tired
- Have gut symptoms such as gas, bloating, constipation/diarrhea
If you think that this might be an issue for you, the first step is to cut out processed foods, alcohol and smoking and increase your intake of fresh fruit, vegetables, fish and lean meat.
5. Core strength
Many people believe that back pain is caused by a weak core.
Many cases we see in the clinic with ongoing back pain have a core that is actually switched on way too much. When they go to move, instead of the muscles working in harmony they end up contracting excessively and against each other for even the most basic movements. This excessive contraction reduces mobility and causes pain in the lower back and including stiffness.
If you have lower back pain and your back feels incredibly stiff it is most likely that your core muscles are being overworked.
A health professional with experience in this field will teach you how to move your body more efficiently, you need to learn to relax certain muscles in a gentle and non-threatening way.
Yoga and pilates are excellent ways to learn how to do this. It is important in this case to not push your body too hard too soon and to be cognisant and consciously aware during the process
This advice is of general in nature and is not intended to replace expert medical care if you want something from the following please consult your doctor immediately for a thorough examination the team at Premier Sports and spinal medicine have the experience, knowledge, and expertise to help with chronic and complex cases of back pain when other options have failed.
So if you are experiencing back pain that keeps coming back or has never gone away, try these tips above and I’m sure they will help you!
If you’re eager to fast-track your journey to a pain-free back without the hassle of trial and error, our systematic muscle testing approach is here to uncover the hidden causes of your discomfort. With precision and expertise, we assess every muscle, providing you with targeted insights to address the root of your back pain. Take advantage of our $35 MILESTONE VOUCHER FOR NEW PATIENTS, applicable to your initial osteo, physio, or Clinical Pilates appointment. It’s time to take charge of your back health. Let’s get started!