muscle

Where your low back pain is coming from and how to fix it

Tuesday, August 21, 2012 by: Dr. Daniel Zagst
Tags: low back pain, iliopsoas muscle, stretching

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(NaturalNews) Do you experience bouts of low back pain? Do you notice stiffness and aching moving from a seated to standing position? Do you sit for more than four hours a day? If you answered yes to any or all of these questions, then you may be suffering from tight hip flexor muscles. The muscles that bring your knee to your chest take deep roots in your low back, and can be an underlying cause of low back pain.

The culprit

The Iliopsoas muscle is the combination of three muscles in your body that converge into one muscle in the thigh. Iliacus, psoas major, and psoas minor originate in the low back and pelvis and connect to the top of the femur. The psoas major muscle begins its attachments in the lumbar spine; where it originates from the vertebrae and discs from L1-L5 before passing down to connect with the other muscles.

Their function

Although the anatomy lesson may be boring, the iliopsoas is vital for proper posture and movement. Iliopsoas is the strongest of the hip flexors and is needed for walking, running and standing upright. A common sign of iliopsoas involvement is pain when standing upright from a seated position. The most common cause for tightness in the iliopsoas is a sedentary lifestyle involving long periods of seated posture.

How sitting leads to back pain

Humans evolved to function more efficiently upright and moving. Unfortunately, sitting for long periods of time has become the norm. While seated, your thighs are at 90 degrees to your torso. This position mimics the action of the iliopsoas muscle, which is flexing the thigh. Since the muscle assumes this position without actively contracting, it picks up the slack in the muscle and tightens up. If you are seated for more than four hours a day, the muscles become accustomed to the seated position as normal. Now, when you stand, you are stretching the muscle in a position it is not used to, causing pain. Since the muscle attaches in the lumbar spine and is stretched, pain is felt in the low back similar to a disc herniation or pulled muscle. The whole time it's just a muscle that needs to be stretched.

Fixing the problem

Ideally, a standing workstation and at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise every day would fix the issue, but that isn't practical for most. Stretching is the next best activity to alleviate symptoms. One of the easiest ways to stretch this muscle is using your bed to assist. Stand along the length of your bed facing the headboard. Place one knee on the bed with the other leg on the ground, using your hand on the bed as a stabilizer; slowly slide your leg on the ground toward the headboard while keeping your back leg on the bed facing the opposite direction. Once you can't slide any further, try to bring your torso to an upright position. You will get to a point where you feel a deep stretch in the front hip region. Hold it for 10-15 seconds and repeat on the opposite side. This is basically a lunge but is easier to perform and a bit more specific to the iliopsoas. Adding this stretch to your usual routine in the morning and at night can prolong spinal health and eliminate low back pain.

Sources for this article include:

http://group.bmj.com
Platzer, Werner (2004). Color Atlas of Human Anatomy, Vol 1: Locomotor system (5th ed.). Thieme. ISBN 3-13-533305-1. (ISBN for the Americas 1-58890-159-9.)
Thieme Atlas of Anatomy. Thieme. 2006. ISBN [[Special:BookSources/31314205112|31314205112]]. (ISBN for the Americas 1-58890-419-9)

About the author:
Dr. Daniel Zagst is a chiropractic physician at Advanced Health & Chiropractic in Mooresville, NC. He has a BS in Professional Studies of Adjunctive Therapies, Doctorate of Chiropractic from NYCC, and an Advanced Certificate in Sport Science and Human Performance. Find out more at www.dzchiro.com

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