Caitlin Cavarra Raymond, PT, DPT, OCS
Common Causes of Low Back Pain + Stiffness
Updated: Jun 9, 2022
I recently held a workshop at the gym about Low Back Pain + Stiffness. This is the most common condition I treat as a physical therapist and I'm sure most of you have experienced this at some point in your life. I have myself since I was 18 and honestly have to stay strong and mobile in my back to not experience achiness or pain.
The most common causes of lower back pain and stiffness that I see are the following:
1. Lack of diverse movement: Staying in one position most of the day (i.e. sitting) and not twisting your spine or bending it sideways. Our spines LOVE movement and love moving in every direction, which is why yoga is so beneficial for this condition. Think about your daily postures...do you move frequently or do you find yourself in one position most of the day?
2. Back and/or core weakness: I see many clients who either have an imbalance in their front to back musculature or people who have difficulty engaging their deep core layers. I also think many people who sit most of the day tend to stretch out the back muscles, which makes it harder to fire and activate when we need them to.
3. Glutes not doing their work: There are 3 gluteal muscles--gluteus maximus, medius and minimus. These all need to work to support our hips, pelvis and lower back. The gluteus maximus especially because it is our POWER muscle, it is meant to be very strong! Sometimes these muscles are not firing appropriately and need specific exercises to get them to work more effectively.
4. Performing exercises incorrectly: We've all been there...getting tired or fatigued toward the end of the workout and letting form get sloppy. Or, potentially just trying new exercises and not sure if you are performing the action correctly. Many times I see lack of deep core engagement prior to lifting which can put more stress on the spine and muscles around it.
5. Moving a heavy box or furniture awkwardly: This is one where I imagine you can think of a time where your internal alarm was saying "That's probably not a good idea", yet you were rushed for time and just want to move the couch upstairs and get it done. Yep, I've been there too. Lifting more than we know we can handle, or lifting in an awkward position can put a lot of strain on the ligaments and muscles around the spine creating pain.
Low back pain is complex and no two individuals will present the same. But, know that low back pain and stiffness can improve! If you want to learn more right now, check out my FREE low back pain guide here: https://www.engagepttn.com/free-lowback-guide.
Or, if you are looking for answers, contact me today and let's chat and see how we can get you moving and feeling better. (firstname.lastname@example.org or 615.982.4062).