There are several muscles that play a part of your low back pain, however, one group in particular makes the cut as one of the biggest culprits.
Before we get there, allow me to say that a common assumption of low back pain is that it must be caused by a structural issue in the lumbar spine, such as arthritis, a herniated disk, compressed nerve, sacroiliac joint dysfunction, etc. While these are common conditions that need ruling out (usually with diagnostic evidence), it is just as important to rule out a common soft tissue malady. You could possibly save time, money, and hassle trying to find structural issues when the problem could be a result of muscular trigger points referring the pain.
Trigger points in the GLUTEUS MEDIUS muscles, are commonly felt in the low back just above and below the belt line and often extends into the buttocks and hips. Gluteus medius trigger points can make walking painful and can make it hard to find comfortable sleeping position, especially on the side of the hips. Afflicted gluteus medius muscles pull the rim of the pelvis down, stiffening and flattening the lower back, adding to the problem.
The gluteus medius muscle is a very strong and thick muscle, lying underneath the larger gluteus maximus. Its primary function is to allow you to walk upright. With each step you take, the gluteus medius muscles take turns supporting the pelvis and supporting the entire weight of the upper body.
So if these muscles are so strong, why do they cause issues?
Due to their leverage at the hip, the gluteus medius muscles must generate a force equal to more than twice the body weight. That's right, more than double the body weight! Any additional demands placed on the gluteus medius will only compound the load that they must carry with each and every step.
Carrying extra weight, whether it be in an overweight individual or a pregnant woman, for example, often times results in the 'waddle' walk. This is the body's way of trying to maintain good body mechanics under the circumstances of overloading.
Here are other potential causes of gluteus medius trigger points:
-habitual weight bearing on one side of body (such as carrying a baby on one hip)
-standing or sitting still for long periods of time
-lifting heavy items without properly supporting with both legs
-*weak gluteal muscles
- and more.
So the next time you suffer from lower back pain or hip pain, consider these important muscles. Are you an active individual? Does your job entail sitting or standing for long periods? Are you carrying extra weight?
These are things to consider when dealing with lower back pain. If you have not tried an experienced massage session, focusing on the gluteals, now is the time. Pain relief can come sooner than you think.
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*See gluteal strengthening videos now:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zA-0qiNgcpk)
(pronounced, 'so-az') muscle!
I love talking about the psoas, iliacus...AKA, hip flexors. If you
suffer from low back pain, sit a lot through out the day, have tight
quads, and stiff knees, then you probably have tight hip flexors.
Stretch these muscles daily and you will discover less pain.
Here is one great example of psoas/hip flexor stretch with release of trigger points prior to the stretch:
The word trapezius comes from the Greek word for a small table, a reflection of the muscle's relative flatness and four-cornered shape. I like to refer to it as the butterfly muscle.
Many people don't realize that the trapezius covers most of the upper half of the back, extending upward to cover the central part of the back and neck, finally attaching into base of the skull. Not only is this a large muscle but it lays superficial (on top) to deeper back muscles.
The trapezius helps support the weight of the head and neck when you bend head forward or to the side. It functions mainly to move the shoulder. It also supports the weight of the shoulders and must contract strongly to rotate the shoulder blade every time you raise your arm.
Trigger points tend to develop in the trapezius when they are in a state of constant contraction, and/or are too weak to counteract the strong pulling in the pectorals in front of body. A primary source of headaches and neck pain pain arises from trapezius trigger points!
Most people experience trigger points in the upper part of the trapezius. Their effects often cause tension headaches and possibly even dizziness. More importantly, upper trapezius trigger points are capable of inducing satellite trigger points in muscles of the jaw and temple, making it an indirect cause of jaw pain and toothache.
Mid-trapezius trigger points are often a major source of pain at the base of your skull, which you may feel as a headache or sore neck. When neck massage feels good but doesn't get rid of the pain, the problem may be trapezius-related.
Heading down to the lower traps we reach middle back area. If you've ever felt a nagging ache or burning pain in the middle back, trigger points here may be responsible. This is also a common area for weakness, and although trigger points here are a long ways away from the neck, it's one of the many causes of astiff neck. Also, If you have ever noticed someone with "winged" shoulder blades that tend to stick out in back, it is due to weakness in the lower trapezius muscles and serratus.
Some main causes of trigger points in the trapezius:
- Faulty Posture - eg. slumping while seated.
- Shortened Pectoralis Muscles -indicated by rounding of the shoulders.
- Emotional Tension or any activity which keeps your shoulders raised.
- Arms held out in front of you for extended lengths of time.
- Heavy-breasted women may be especially vulnerable, or those carrying heavy backpacks & purses.
Strengthening the lower traps can help counteract the ill effects of poor posture, including the long hours spent sitting in front of computer. However, it also requires stretching various anterior muscle groups on opposing side of body, to retrain postural muscles.
At Essential Medical Massage, we will guide you through the process of improving posture by demonstrating stretches and strengthening for the trapezius muscle and other affected postural muscles.
You do not have to suffer from headaches, neck tension & pain, TMJ pain, or back pain. Perhaps the source may be trapezius-related!
Come on in and let us find out!
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