As some point in our lives we experience back pain, this can be from sport, general activity even our job. Low back pain is the most frequent cause of activity limitation in those under age 45.
The spine provides structural support for our bodies, protection for our central nerves, and facilitates movement.
The spine is made up of 24 semi-rigid presacral vertebrae (seven cervical, twelve thoracic, five lumbar) separated by discs. Five sacral vertebrae fuse to make up the sacrum, which helps transfer upper body weight to the pelvis through the sacroiliac joint. The coccyx (tailbone) makes up the bottom of the vertebral column.
Intervertebral discs hold vertebrae together, act as shock absorbers, and allow dynamic spinal movement. These discs measure around one centimeter in height and consist of a gooey center surrounded by connective tissue .Bony projections come together along your mid-back to form the spinous process, which you can feel and see. Ligaments run along the spine and provide stability, helping the spine protect nerves extending from brain to body.
Several muscle groups attach to the spine or play a critical role in spinal health. Problems with these muscles can cause back pain. Here are just a few:
Iliopsoas (psoas + iliacus) complex
These lie deep within the abdomen and hip, connecting the lumbar vertebrae and the iliac crest to the top of the femur. They’re major movers during bent knee leg raises and sit ups and are easily aggravated with Lots of sitting/driving, kicking (soccer), long bike rides in bent position, and sleeping in the fetal position.
This group of muscle is your “six pack”. It runs between the lowest ribs and top of the pubic bone, and helps stabilize the torso. Excessive training of the rectus abdominis can reduce the ability to carry weight overhead (eg: overhead presses) and lead to lower back injury. Easily aggravated with too many crunches (especially without posterior chain training, glutes and hamstring work), over-exercising, excess abdominal fat.
Gluteus group: Maximus/Medius/Minimus
Aka your butt muscles, which by the way we love to work in Pilates, these are the muscles that help bring your thigh behind you (think: donkey kicks), rotate it, and bring it to the side. These muscles get very upset with prolonged sitting, sleeping in fetal position with knees pulled up, sitting on your wallet, standing for long periods on one leg to name a few.