Pain is easily pinpointed in the body, but the cause can be a bit more challenging to find.
If we have lower back pain, we usually assume something is wrong with the back. Now, in some cases that is true, such as a traumatic event that led to the injury. However, if these pains just came about, it’s time to look at the body mechanics as a whole.
The body is one unit – the kinetic chain. The human body is connected from top to bottom where joints favoring mobility and joints favoring stability make up the kinetic chain. If one piece of this ‘chain’ is compromised it will throw the body off as a whole.
The human body is set up in an every other fashion when it comes to joints:
2. Ankle- mobile
Now, just by looking at this, we can determine why many issues occur. Consider athletes who wrap their ankles. The wrapping makes the ankle less mobile, which causes more recruitment of the knee and an increases the probability of knee injury.
If mobility is taken from a joint, the mobility requirement gets pushed up the chain into a joint normally meant to be stable, leading to injury. Left untreated, this process can wreak havoc on the body. For example, if the foot is not stable, such as low/high arches, the angle of mobility in the ankle will be offset and less mobile.
This forces the knees to be less stable, which changes the angle in the hip, causing less mobility, pushing the lower back into a less stable position and so on.
Most of us at some time or another has or will face some low back pain. So, let’s go back and look at that list again. The mobile joint before the lumbar is the hips. The hips are the biggest player in the human body. They are the most mobile and also the most neglected.
These days we spend too much time sitting, don’t stretch, and our hip flexors and hamstrings get tight. It actually makes sense why low back pain/injuries are so common. The hips become less mobile, so the mobility requirement is pushed to the stabile lumbar spine, which then starts moving more than it should leading to pain/injury. The hip joint needs to move freely!
Hip tightness will also lead to weaknesses, which then lead to low back pain. If the glutes are weak, the lower back is not going to have the support it requires. If the low back is not conditioned it will not be as stable as it should be.
A common issue here is tight hip flexors. If the hip flexors are tight, the glutes will never develop through the full range of motion they require. And, it’s hard to keep the lower back conditioned when we all slouch instead of keeping the lower back erect and sit straight.
Mobility isn’t the only thing pushed around. Weakness is also pushed around. When one muscle is weak, something else will have to compensate. If the glutes are weak, the low back will have to compensate, leading to straining type injuries. For example, if someone’s low back rounds during the deadlift most will say he has a low back weakness. Well, maybe the lower back is getting more load on it then it should, because the glutes are weak.
The glutes are the lifting muscles, not the back! If the glutes are up to par, then the lower back will most likely not round and will remain stable. In the squat, if the glutes are not functioning properly, pressure will be pushed to the knees causing knee pain.
Things need to be balanced.I have personally had many bouts of lower back and knee pain. In those moments, I had to look at what was not functioning efficiently.
With every case of knee pain I have had, I have fixed it by foam rolling my glutes and stretching/strengthening my hips.
The same applied with the low back pain. It vanished once I worked on mobility in the hips. So, when something hurts, try to look at the big picture and find out what may not be functioning properly.