I have a severe pain in my backbone about three inches above the glutes. When I bend, my back hurts. I jog once a week. Please tell me what to do.
It sounds like you have mechanical back pain. Normally, the pain is located more on one side of the back than the other. It’s a common problem, and usually stems from a trigger point in the Quadrates Lumborum muscle in the leg that is important for walking, running, and bending.
The pain starts from an imbalance between the postural muscles on the left and the right. It’s a minor imbalance that will only get picked up by a biomechanics specialist.
To fix it, you need to strengthen your gluteus muscles. Do exercises that challenge your body to stabilise and move in an unsymmetrical way. Start with static lunges that work your glutes and balance simultaneously:
- Stand with one knee on the floor directly under your torso and the other leg in front with your foot flat on the floor and the knee bent at 90°.
- Your head, shoulders, spine, hips and knee should be in a straight line.
- Raise yourself up with 75 per cent of your body weight on your front leg and only 25 per cent on your back leg.
- Push with the heel of the foot in front and use the gluteus to lift your body.
You’ll know you’re cheating if you feel a lot of pressure on the toes and forefoot behind you.
Rest your hands on your hips during the exercise, so that your fingers wrap around the front of your stomach to the area between your navel and pubic bone. This area, called the core, is vital for lower back stability and strength and should stay tight during the exercise.
Take a peek in the mirror
The pain you’ve described is normally associated with an anterior pelvic tilt. You can check this by standing sideways in front of a mirror to see if the curve in your lower back is exaggerated and your pants slope forward from back to front when resting on your pelvis.
In such a case, conventional sit-up exercises help strengthen the abdominal muscles and take pressure off the lower back.
Finally, there are some side stretches that you should do on the side that’s not paining, in three sets of 10 repetitions each.
Stretch 1: Stand with your feet slightly wider apart than your shoulders. Slide your hand down the outside of the same leg as far as possible. Try to touch your ankle without moving your shoulders.
Stretch 2: Lie on your back and twist your one leg over the other. Try to touch the floor with your knee, keeping both shoulders flat on the ground.
Follow this routine twice a day for a week to resolve your back pain. If it persists, you will need to consult a biomechanics expert.
Heath is senior sports physiotherapist with the Kokilaben Dhirubhai Ambani Sports Medicine Centre.