Low Back Pain- A chronic concern?
Shannon Klipstein, LMT edited by Raymond Mar 4, 2016
Are you suffering from low back pain? There are some alternative methods you can try to prevent chronic problems in your lumbar spine. A massage therapist may or may not be able to fix your pain. If it lies within a muscle you will be surprised how quickly this can be relieved through massage. Chiropractors are also a good option to try before jumping into visiting an orthopedic surgeon. It is good to see your family practice physician to make sure there is no major structural damage in your lumbar spine as well before seeking any treatment.
As a massage therapist I often find low back pain coming from one or more of the following areas: glutes, psoas (which is an abdominal muscle), SI joint (tiny joints at the very bottom of your spine that allow you to shake your hips back and forth when you walk), external abdominal obliques (side body) and in very rare cases the quadratus lumborum (this muscle’s action does hip hiking and is located on your lower back). The majority of these muscles are not on your lower back, but they all do in fact attach to your lower back. Most of these muscles are deeper to access and require more detailed work. They may also cause a little bit of discomfort during your massage so, relaxation is slightly harder to achieve. You can still get a relaxation massage, but at times it’s good to provide feedback if you feel a tender area or if something is giving a burning sensation to cue your therapist into the specific areas that release these muscles.
The psoas muscle runs along the front of your iliac crest, in your lower abdominal region. The reason this muscle can cause low back pain is because it attaches at the front of your spine on the anterior side. This can pull your lower spine forward causing a pelvic tilt. It’s often tense on people who lift a lot of things, bending at the waist with resistance for example. Your gluteal muscles attach at the top of the iliac crest, and when one side of the other is tense it can cause a pulling from the sacrum out towards your hip joint. When we are able to release those muscles it will take a lot of pressure off your lumbar spine. If your feet point outward, this is a sign of tense gluteal muscles. The external abdominal obliques attach at the top of the iliac crest and if one side is more tense a twisting of the pelvis and muscle tension can occur.
The SI joint when stuck isn’t as fluid and it’s good to have some assisted stretching or joint mobilization work done by your massage therapist if this is the case. In rare cases I see the quadratus lumborum (Hip hiker muscle) very tense, this usually comes as a surprise to me when I see it, but this causes a pretty significant anterior pelvic tilt (top of the pelvis is tilting forward). Other causes of low back can include problems with the disks and nerves which chiropractors are excellent at working on. Massage therapy can release a sciatica nerve if it is being impinged in the muscle. A personal trainer can also teach you how to strengthen your back as well as a physical therapist and teach you stretching techniques. There are, however, certain cases where your physician may refer you to an orthopedic surgeon, but I think finding out if it’s possible to avoid surgery and try all your options first will save you pain and money in the long run.
If you are experiencing low back pain and would like to try therapeutic massage please call Elements West Allis for an appointment. We have several licensed massage therapists on staff to assist with pain relief and relaxation. We are open M-Sat 9-9, Sun 9-7 and can be reached at 414.455.2715