Lower back pain usually doesn’t start in the lower back. In fact, there are many situations that the cause of pain isn’t happening where you’re experiencing the symptoms, unless of course you have a site-specific injury to one of the joints.
Anatomically, the front of the spine is a poor candidate as a supporting pillar. The posterior spine bristled with bony bits could be seen as a better candidate as a weight bearing model. The posterior spine is a bit off center, and thus would mean it must have strong guy wires balancing around the spine like the spokes of a wheel. However this idea can be very counter to the image people have of their spines as a center supporting tent pole.
From an engineering stand point, the spine needs a foundation. The spine is a system with a network of support coming around it and coming from down below. If it doesn’t have good support, its not going to hold up real well. So, looking at the spine and spinal pain in isolation is like pouring water in a bucket filled with holes. You are not going to get very far.
Back pain does not always happen because there is dysfunction in the spine but because there is misalignment and/or weakness in one of the support systems for the spine, particularly the ankles, knees and hips.
You have to create a solid foundation for your back if you want to maintain (or begin) flexibility, strength, and energy. How you do this is to have
1. Flexible Hips, Knees, and Ankles
2. Strong Hips, Knees, and Ankles
3. Aligned Hips, Knees and Ankles.
What?! My feet and ankles are important?! Yes. Bring them into your awareness. So many of us are so in our heads we forget how important our feet are! Its not enough to have strong joints, tendons, and muscles. You also need flexibility. In any exercise you do, you need to bring the joint in its full range of motion, and build strength around the full range of motion.
An example for ankle strengthening: Try standing on one foot and balancing on level ground. If that becomes easy, try something unstable like standing on a pile of dirty laundry, a rolled up towel, or a pile of small stones.
An example of hip strengthening: Anything low to the ground. Try backward lunges or squats. Sitting is one of the hallmarks of our culture and so we have weak hips. We sit in chairs, couches, cars, theaters, restaurants, but how many of us are getting low to the ground? If we get more down to the ground, we would have strong ans flexible knees and hips.
So, to recap, lasting lower back pain relief comes from looking beyond your back. Create a solid foundation for your spine and your lower back pain will disappear. To do this, focus on ankle, knee and hip strengthening exercises that also build flexibility and work the full range of motion of the joint. Do bodyweight exercises, yoga, tai chi, or pilates to strengthen your joints and get lower back pain relief that really lasts.