This weekend I was teaching blues dancing, and in one of the classes, some students started to experience pain in their lower back. This resulted from a combination of two things that are extremely common causes of lower back pain, that I have seen in a wide variety of people. Today I’ll share with you two tips to reduce lower back pain, following this observation.
Fold at the hip
Many people, when bending forward, bend their lower back. This puts a lot of strain on tissue which evolved simply keeping us erect, and stresses them way more than what is reasonable to expect of this region. A more optimal way of using a human body in this situation is to fold at the hips. This way, we use our glutes, the biggest and most powerful muscle our body, to support our upper body in its forward adventures.
I see two images to help with this. One of them is to think of compensating for the forward movement of the hands or head by moving your pelvis back, to keep your balance. The other one, is to picture yourself at a gymnastic high bar (see picture), and fold where the bar would be.
Drop the Sacrum
Another common pattern is to arch one’s back as a default, especially during movement that require to bring the legs up, like some dance actions or climbing a stair. This again, introduces a lot of tension in the lower back, in ways that don’t align with the optimal function of these muscles and other tissue. To resolve that, a very useful image is to think of having a long, heavy tail that drops directly down behind you, like a kangaroo’s.
If you prefer anatomical images, think of dropping your sacrum (the bottom of your spine). A mixed image of a sacrum made of a heavy material (lead, stone…) can do wonders as well. You can combine that with the image presented in this Facebook post for an added effect.
I want to add that this is an image to use, and not a movement to do. If you consciously tuck your tail/sacrum, you’ll probably end up with the problem highlighted in the first section of this post, or globally restrict your movement in new and unpredictable ways.
With that, I hope you will go wonder the world and embark on all the adventures you want, with a lower back free of pain!
Want more like this?Check out the following blogs from massage therapists I know from around London:
- On The Run Health and Fitness on running, nutrition and sports massage.
- The Soma Room on sports massage and exercise.