Low Back Pain

People often wonder why I evaluate movement in areas throughout their whole body when they come in for something specific, like low back pain. Let’s talk about low back pain, and why that happens.

Most people will experience some form of low back pain at least once in their life. When you should do something about it is a question everyone has. Studies show that low back pain which starts without any known cause and hasn’t happened before, most often will go away on its own within a certain amount of time. This is comforting, but what isn’t comforting is that it almost always recurs.

There are many different causes of low back pain, and I’ll discuss a couple of them here. The most common cause of low back pain is mechanical. That means the muscles, tendons, ligaments, and joints. Other causes can be internal, which need to be addressed properly. Mechanical low back pain can stem from the low back itself, or from further away from the spine like the foot or shoulder. An example is someone who spent a lot of time in their life throwing (like a pitcher in baseball). This is a one sided move that tends to create imbalance when done repetitively for a long time. When we are young, agile, and limber, our body responds better to the work loads we put on it. This is also mostly when we are doing something like pitching in baseball. What then happens, is that we stop being as active, things stiffen up, and the imbalances we created become more pronounced. Now, a stiffening shoulder starts to pull through the low back with every arm movement. We are able to tolerate it without it causing pain, until it either becomes too much on its own, or we add one or two simple other strains to the low back. Then it starts to hurt.

Rest will likely help, but fixing the problem is important to prevent it from becoming a chronically recurring issue. A key part in evaluating for low back pain, is testing movement patterns throughout the whole body that can reveal where the actual dysfunction is coming from. That might mean looking at the shoulder, hip, knee, foot, or other area. Correcting an incorrect movement pattern in the shoulder might be the key to being able to get rid of low back pain for the long run.

Peter Schulz