The lower back is built to be very strong and support the weight of the upper body, and then distribute that weight to the pelvis and two legs. While the lower back is usually very strong, many of the movements and positions we are in our day-to-day lives will make the back susceptible to injuries. When the muscle is overstretched, this is called a lower back strain. This is very similar to a hamstring strain. If there is overstretch to one of the ligaments, then this is considered to be a back sprain. In general, a strain always refers to muscles and a sprain always refers to ligaments. Muscle spasms are when the muscle is irritated or over elicited and is in a state of constant contraction as a result. A muscle spasm usually occurs because there is an imbalance in the body or the physical demands placed on the body are too great. For the sake of this blog, we will focus on the muscular back pain.
Some of the things that can cause the back to weaken are: remaining in a seated position over a long period of time, performing repetitive movements, and having a weak core. Once the back has been weakened, it will become more difficult for it to “handle” or take on the loads that are placed on it on a day-to-day basis. This weakening of the back happens over time, and often our body learns to compensate until certain stressors are put on it, and an injury occurs.
Some of the stressors that can occur are:
There are many activities that could cause these stressors, here are a few listed:
Very often when people come in for sports massage treatments, one of the first questions I ask the person is, “how did this injury occur?” In some cases, the mechanism of injury can be a very good indicator of what the true injury is; example: “I fell and broke my leg.” Other times, the mechanism of injury leads to even more questions’ for example, “I turned to put on my seatbelt and I threw out my back.” In the second case, it isn’t putting on the seatbelt that injured the back; it is just the drop of water, which caused the glass of water to overflow. In this case, it is very important for the sports massage therapist to examine the posture, movement patterns and sometimes the strength of the muscles in order to have a precise idea of what is going on.
The answer to this question might be as simple as see a sports massage therapist a few times and make sure to get up from your desk every hour; to a more complex response that will also involve a physiotherapist, osteopath, and a consult with a physician.
In general, the sports massage therapist will treat the muscles of the back but will also spend a lot of time releasing the muscles of the hips such as the hip flexors, the gluteals and the piriformis muscle. The massage therapist will also often recommend certain stretches and exercises that will help to strengthen the core and the muscles of the lower body. Remember, when training, it doesn’t matter how many crunches you can do, but the quality of your crunches, planks and other core exercises.
The best form of rehabilitation is prevention, so remember to exercise properly, move around at work a lot, and see a sports massage therapist regularly. Contact me to book your sports massage treatment.