Author: Donya Mann
Inconvenient and annoying, pain in the muscles of your lower can be very frustrating. You might feel it first trying to get out of bed. You begin feeling the twinge of muscles spasms immediately. Your full range of motions becomes limited and you begin racking your brain for what may have caused the pain. And then it dawns on you; you may have caused the muscle strain from physical activity like a particularly grueling gym session. But why?
Weak lower back muscles may be the culprit. If your lower back frequently aches after physical activity, or when you stand or walk for long periods of time, the muscles in your core and lower back may need improvement. These muscles are critical for balance and movement and should be regularly treated with strengthening exercises to maintain their durability.
If you want to improve and strengthen the muscles of your lower back, you need to understand how it works.
When you feel a pulled back muscle in the lower portion of your spine, medical professionals would define it as a lumbar sprain. Between your lowest rib and the top of your butt define your lumbar region. Your lumbar region (or lower back) supports the majority of your upper body and assists with movement. The portion of your spine in your lower back contains 5 vertebrae bones, discs, and facet joints. The discs are between each vertebrae.
A complex system of bones, nerves, muscles, and tissue make up your spinal column. This complicated and elaborate network serves as the body’s basis for physical sensation too. These spinal nerves are responsible for internalizing physical sensations and transmitting pain signals (or not) to your brain.
Each time you stand up, walk, or even bend down and twist to pick something up, your body is experiencing a shock. The vertebrae in your spinal cord and the discs are what absorb the shocks, protecting your spine and body. The vertebrae in your lumbar spine forms a flexible support, protecting your internal organs while making basic movement possible. The jelly like intervertebral discs provide shock-absorbing protection and cushion between each vertebrae and each of your moments.
Why You Experience Lower Back Pain
There are several factors that increase the risk of you feeling muscle pain in your lower back. If you find yourself repeating the same motions at the gym (or at work or at home) you place a strain on your lower back. Without proper stretching or care, you risk the chance of damage with added pressure to the nerves.
Acute trauma such as the muscles becoming overstretched or torn can also cause inflammation in your lumbar region. The inflammation is the body’s inherent response to injury; an attempt at self-healing. Blood flow increases to the injured area and the body’s natural healing functions kick into high gear. But this increase in blood flow causes the muscles to feel tender to the touch, send intense pain signals through the body, and/or begin spasming. When your lumbar region becomes irritated or injured, the nerves in your spinal canal message the brain to feel pain. You may begin experiencing pain when standing or walking, and at different intervals throughout the day.
So What Do You Do To Strengthen Your Back?
There are several strengthening exercises you can do to improve the state of your lower back muscles. The following stretches may significantly reduce pain once practiced regularly.
This stretching exercise focuses on the large muscles of the buttocks also known as the gluteus maximus. These muscles play a vital role when supporting the lower back. With your feet on the floor, and lying on the ground, you raise your butt off the ground. You should form a straight line from your shoulders to your knees. You hold your position in the air for a few seconds and then lower back to the ground. You should repeat these motions for a few more repetitions.
This stretch improves the muscle extenders along your spine. They support your standing position, spine, and the arch of your back. You first lie on your stomach, arms extended in front, legs extended in the back. You lift your feet and hands simultaneously off the ground, engaging your core muscles. You release this extension, and return to your resting position.
This stretch extends your spine comfortably, encouraging flexibility and mobility. It also provides relief from existing tension carried in your lumbar region. It can also improve your posture. With your body on all fours, shoulders over your wrists and hips over your knees, you arch and curve your back. With your first slow inhale of breath, you curve your spine upward and drop your head to the floor (cat position). Then with another inhale of breath, you lift your chest and head, and your tailbone pointed upward arching your back (cow position).
What This Means For You
Hopefully reading this blog has been able to highlight the important role your lower back muscles play in your everyday life. And how important it is to maintain the health of these muscles so your entire body doesn’t suffer. If the muscles in your lower back are weak the other functioning muscles can be affected and damaged. The surrounding muscles may begin to overcompensate for the weakened ones, causing pain.
Keeping your lower back muscles properly supported with strengthening exercises is the best way to avoid injury and painful symptoms. The best thing you can do for the muscles in your lower back is to be consistent with your strengthening exercises. These helpful stretches can increase blood flow to the lower back in a safe way (unrelated to inflammation) reducing stiffness and encouraging the natural healing mechanisms of the body.
Our body’s muscles function best when they are properly cared for and can comfortably work in a natural rhythm with each other. Weak muscles threaten these functions and can cause debilitating lower back pain. Promoting the healthy maintenance of the muscles in your lower back is the simplest way to prevent lower back muscle pain.