What it is:
Low back pain can have a variety of diagnoses. With that, we will focus on the 2 most commonly used including:
Sciatica- Defined as the irritation of the sciatic nerve, which runs from your lower spine all the way to your foot. This irritation comes from 2 sources, both compression related. It can be caused by compression of the nerve at the spine or entrapment of the nerve along the piriformis muscle, which is located in your hip underneath the gluteal fold, as highlighted below. Often we find sciatica is not the actual true problem, and can be more related to a hip problem. Learn more about this here with our blog “Is your back symptoms really a hip problem?”
Lumbago (low back strain)- This universal diagnosis can be defined as the irritation to the low back musculature. Most commonly referring to the strain or overuse of the erector spinae muscles, which run parallel to your spine and connect to your tailbone. Very commonly we see these diagnoses as a symptom to a more common underlying cause as you’ll learn below.
Symptoms of low back pain:
- Deep ache in the low back
- Difficulty with bending and twisting
- Burning/tingling from hip to foot at worst
- Inability to put clothes/shoes on
- Can demonstrate significant spasms at times
When to see a Performance Therapist:
If you are experiencing any of these symptoms without improvement for more than 72 hours. Scroll below for two pain elimination techniques specific for low back pain in runners.
Also, seeing a performance therapist first is more efficient way to get results. Even if this is not within the scope of the clinician, they are able to refer out to the appropriate medical physician for further imaging and consultation if needed.
Low back pain for runners can occur for a variety of reasons but what we have found to be most common is the lack of stiffness of the spine/pelvis junction due to:
- Ineffective hip extension
- Muscle imbalances from strength deficits
- Inability to maintain neutral pelvic position with running
- Dominate lower back muscles
- “Pull” dominate running dysfunction- see pull vs push running for more
- Improper running shoes
Pain Relief Techniques:
Low back pain relief stretch- Try this lunging drill that will help reduce low back and hip tension. Try this drill for 2-4 minutes per side without increasing your symptoms while performing.
Modified plank with knee lifts- This drill helps reconfigure your muscles to firing the correct way after back pain, ultimately reducing pain and irritation. This drill should be done 20-30 good reps as described in the video and can be done throughout the day if relief improves.