Commonly in Lower back rehabilitation, the focus, and rightly so, is on strengthening a person’s core muscles. The goal when strengthening the ‘core’ is to take the pressure off the spine allowing it to move more freely, effectively and efficiently. This can be done a number of ways including, strength training, Pilates or yoga. This is often a good approach and commonly gets results when it comes to reducing pain in people who have lower back pain, particularly when there has been an injury such as a bulged disc. If you would like more information on exercise and lower back pain, please see our earlier blog on the topic at https://www.tuckerstrengthperformance.com.au/blog/exercise-a-drug-free-alternative-in-the-treatment-and-management-of-lower-back-pain
Not all lower back problems originate from the spine, however, with research and evidence suggesting that quite often, people with lower back pain also have weakness and tightness in a muscle called, Gluteus Medius (GM).
The GM muscle is located on the lateral (outside) aspect of the upper buttock, below the hip bone. It plays a very important role in walking, running and single-leg weight-bearing. Weakness in this muscle has been associated with lower-limb musculoskeletal injury as well as gait disturbance. In many cases with a person with lower back pain, their GM is deactivated, if activated at all. This causes other muscles further up the body to compensate leading to those muscles, generally, our lower back muscles, to become tired and overworked.
The Trendelenburg sign is when the muscle is unable to work efficiently due to pain, poor mechanics or weakness. You can see this on a person as the pelvis will drop on the opposite side to the weakness. Commonly, trunk compensation is often observed with a Trendelenburg gait. It is this trunk compensation that often can be related to back pain. As a person takes a step, more movement of the pelvis occurs than the spine is mechanically designed for, potentially causing some pain.
Luckily, low back caused by GM dysfunction can be quite easily managed with strengthening and stretching exercises. Stretching exercises include foam rolling and trigger point therapy, which have been shown to be successful in reducing pain symptoms. Once the GM has been sufficient stretched and pain symptoms have started to reduce, it is important that a person start strengthening exercises. These exercises, in conjunction with continued stretching, will allow the body to reprogram itself and start to act more efficiently as well as correct any muscles imbalances that may be present.
Before starting any exercise or stretching program, or if you feel you need any advice, it is important that you seek the expertise of a professional. The Accredited Exercise Physiologists at Tucker Strength and Performance are trained to assess and prescribe the correct form of exercise based on your individual level of strength or ability. Contact us via email, phone or send us a Facebook message via our page www.facebook.com/tuckerstrengthperformance.