Low Back Pain and How to Fix it – Part 4
Low Back Pain and The Glutes!
Tom Cotter, DC, DACRB
Last week, we talked about stretching your tight hip flexors. What I didn’t tell you (because I ran out of room) was that’s only half the equation. If I only have you stretch a chronically tight muscle, but don’t tell you to do anything else, it’ll likely never change. “I stretch all the time! I’ve done it since a chiro/PT told me to do it years ago. But, I’m still tight!” We’ve all heard people say it or have even said it ourselves. The other half of the equations is strengthening the opposite side. So in this case, we are stretching the hip flexors, and now we need to strengthen/activate the glutes.
When a muscle is chronically short, tight, and/or activated it neurologically inhibits the opposing side. This is done on purpose. You wouldn’t want your triceps firing as you are trying to do an arm curl with your biceps. In a chronic setting though, this phenomenon becomes problematic.
In this case, since we are stretching the hip flexors, we will be doing exercises to activate/strengthen the glutes. The glutes demand a lot of resources from the body. When we use them less frequently or sit a lot, a position that puts them in an elongated state, the body tries to conserve energy by not using them. Unfortunately, this leads to back pain, because the low back is being jammed and not stabilized.
Two simple exercises to add into the mix are the banded clamshell and glute bridge. We are doing two exercises because the glutes are a fairly dynamic complex and do a couple different functions .
For both exercises, you want to use a light theraband placed above your knees.
In the clamshell, you will lie on your side, with your ankles, hips, and shoulders all in a line and your knees bent at a 90 degree angle. While keeping your pelvis perpendicular to the ground, and your heels touching, you’ll raise the top knee as high as it can go. Remember, keep the pelvis still, don’t let it roll backwards to assist you in raising that knee. Do this exercise on both sides for 3 sets of 10 reps, or if you fatigue sooner, only as long as you can maintain good form.
For the glute bridge, you’ll lie on your back with your knees bent at 90 degrees, feet and knees at hip width. From there, using primarily the glutes, left your pelvis off the ground as high as you can. Hold for a second or two and then return to the starting position and repeat. Do this for 3 sets of 10.
If these exercises haven’t fully resolved your issue, or you know someone that might benefit from our services, be sure to schedule from our website www.activehealthKC.com or call 913-341-1200.