Athletes around the world regularly perform weighted squats. Research has shown that squatting has a direct impact on your body’s power, which is the ability to overcome a resistance with speed (Loxtercamp, 2018). Therefore, squatting can result in great power and an increase in sprint speed. General benefits include increased flexibility, greater core strength, as well as protection from injury as a result of better coordination of the body.
However, squats have been known to cause unwanted low back soreness. Although squatting will work the muscles of the lower back, if the low back becomes the most targeted region during the squat, chronic soreness and overuse injury can occur. Previous injury to the lower back, poor technique, as well as weakness of the core or surrounding muscles can contribute to this overuse of the back muscles (Gordon & Bloxham, 2016). Barbell back squats are also the most common for causing back pain as the weight is loaded across the back (Loxtercamp, 2018). If you find this movement difficult, but still want to add weight to your squats, you may want to opt for goblet squats or front squats.
If you have any pain during exercises, or are unsure about what you are doing, please consult your local physiotherapist before continuing.
Gordon, R., & Bloxham, S. (2016). A systematic review of the effects of exercise and physical activity on non-specific chronic low back pain. Healthcare. 4(2). doi:10.3390/healthcare4020022
Loxtercamp, B. (2018). Influence of attentional focus on a weighted barbell back squat among experienced performers. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise. 50(1). doi:10.1248/01.mss.0000536504.18312.43
A tight upper back may be attributed to stiffness in the shoulder, neck, or back muscles surrounding the thoracic spine. Rounded or slump shoulders, having sway in the lower back, or a forward head position due to weak back extensor muscles, short and tight chest muscles, or weak abdominal muscles may result in an individual having poor posture. Poor posture can place tension in the upper back and may result in irritation or pain. Sports, weightlifting, irregular sleeping positions, or car accidents may also cause tightness in the upper neck and back region. Mobilizing and strengthening the muscles surrounding the thoracic spine may relieve an individual of stiffness or pain, while improving an individual’s range of motion and functioning. Remember to have a balanced, upright posture by standing tall, bringing the shoulders down and back, tuck your chin, and keep a neutral spine to work on better posture.
Lie sideways on a mat or on the floor with both arms extended to one side and hands together. Bend the knee of the top leg to form a 90 degree angle. Place a long foam roller underneath the bent knee if you are unable to touch the ground with this top knee. Keeping your lower body in this position, twist your upper back by bringing the top arm over your body to the other side to touch the floor. Repeat 10-12 times, then lie on the other side and complete the same movement.
Begin in a table-top position with your knees hip-width apart and wrists shoulder-width apart on a mat or on the floor. Keep a neutral spine and head position. Move into the “cow” pose by inhaling as you drop your belly down towards the mat as you lift your chin and chest up to gaze toward the ceiling. Then move into the “cat” pose by exhaling as you draw your belly into your spine and round your back toward the ceiling. Repeat 10-15 times.
Begin seated in a chair with both feet planted on the floor or seated on the floor. Raise one arm up towards the ceiling. With your arm raised above your head, slowly bend to the opposite side. Return to the start position and lower your arm. Then raise the other arm and slowly bend to the opposite side. Repeat 5-10 times on each side.
Place a long foam roller perpendicular to your spine on a mat or on the floor underneath your shoulder blades. Interlace your fingers and place your hands behind your head to support the weight of your head. Slowly push with your feet to roll the foam roller up and down the thoracic region. Maintain a neutral spine and engage your abs.
This exercise helps to re-train muscle activation in the shoulder blades and mobilizes the muscles surrounding the thoracic spine for a better functional recovery. Place your hands and knees in a four point or table-top position with a neutral spine. Engage the inner core and start by walking one hand out to one side, then back to the centre, and then to the other side, then back to the centre again. Put full equal weight each time you place your hand down. Maintain a neutral spine throughout the exercise. Repeat for 30 seconds for 3 sets.
Persistent pain between the shoulder pains, or interscapular pain, may arise from a number of varying causes. The scapula is the bone that connects the humerus (upper arm bone) with the clavicle (collar bone) on either side of the body. The intrinsic muscles of the scapula include the subscapularis, teres minor, supraspinatus, and infraspinatus, all of which make up the rotator cuff. The major muscles surrounding the scapula that make up the interscapular region include the rhomboids, trapezius, and levator scapulae.
When you think of pain in the back, the thoracolumbar fascia is not likely the first guess as to what is causing the discomfort and pain you are experiencing. The thoracolumbar fascia is a very important tissue of the body as it is needed for coordinated movement, plus it is an attachment site and a connective element for a number of muscles and joints of the lower and upper back. Therefore, it is not uncommon for pain to occur in the middle or lower back regions stemming from thoracolumbar fascia injury.
Thoracolumbar Fascia Back Pain Causes
The thoracolumbar fascia is a tough membrane composed of three layers that cover the deep muscles beneath the back, covering the thoracic spine. Muscles are also enclosed within the layers. This fascia tissue crosses the entire low-back area and it connects the shoulder to the opposite hip. This transitional area between the upper and lower half of the body allows forces to be transferred as needed for athletic and daily movement. Besides enabling movement, the thoracolumbar fascia is also important for stability and sensory roles.
Some tasks can take a toll on the fascia, resulting in thoracolumbar fascia back pain or a loss of mobility of this tissue over time. Excessive strain, overuse, repetitive stress or having poor posture when lifting an object or squatting can bring on thoracolumbar pain in the low-, mid- or upper back.
This injury is relatively common among those who lift moderately heavy loads on a regular basis at work, such as construction workers or farmers. It is also seen among athletes, especially those who lift weights without proper form.
Sitting all day can also damage the thoracolumbar fascia. If you are looking to correct your posture try wearing a posture brace or following these simple tips while sitting at your desk.
Symptoms of Thoracolumbar Fascia Injury
Besides pain in the back, you might also develop trigger points in the fascia, adhesions and scar tissue that can diminish your strength and range of motion. Pain in the back can also cause you to alter your motion to compensate for the discomfort, leading to pain elsewhere in the body. These symptoms can worsen if you do not pursue thoracolumbar pain treatment.
Achieving Thoracolumbar Fascia Pain Relief
Most instances of thoracolumbar pain can be remedied using conservative methods, such as tissue manipulation, relaxation techniques, exercise and stretches, or wearing a thoracolumbar treatment brace.
Tissue manipulation, more commonly known as massage therapy, is often the go-to mode of treatment for thoracolumbar pain. Seeing a professional is usually preferred, but regular self-massage via tools like a foam roller or massage stick can also help. Tissue manipulation can increase the blood flow to the region, reduce tension and stress, and improve mobility.
Wearing a thoracolumbar support can also help support the back, especially if your career involves a lot heavy lifting or twisting. This support applies compression to the lower spine region. It also has a pocket for easy application of ice or heat therapy.
Other relaxation techniques, breathing exercises or meditation can also help to regulate the pH of the body and it can help the thoracolumbar fascia to relax.
Engaging in mild exercise on a regular basis can also help. The same can be said of daily thoracolumbar exercises and stretches to improve the strength, stability and flexibility of the back and core. Some also have success with deep tissue laser therapy for relieving pain in this thoracolumbar fascia.
How To Treat Inflamed Thoracolumbar Fascia Strain
Preventing thoracolumbar fascia pain involves following many of the guidelines for general back health. Shown below are 7 remedies that can help to treat your thoracolumbar fascia pain and discomfort.
- Maintain a healthy weight
- Practice good posture
- Take frequent breaks for stretching and movement when sitting for long periods of time
- Warm up and stretch before exercising or heavy lifting
- Strengthen your core muscles
- Wear a back brace to help apply compression and support to the spine
- Use massage therapy to increase the blood flow to the injured area
When you have a tight (or short) psoas muscle, you may experience pain in your lower back or in your hips, especially when lifting your legs. This is caused by the muscle compressing the discs in the lumbar region of your back.
Stretching your muscles and releasing the tension on the psoas is the best way to prevent this from happening. It takes time and daily attention to keep your psoas muscles relaxed, stretched, and strong.
And, while most people with psoas issues have tight psoas muscles, there are some people whose psoas muscles can be overstretched. In this case, if you stretch your psoas and it is already overstretched, you will cause more problems.
Your body will tell you what your psoas ultimately needs. Here are 7 ways to tell if you have a psoas muscle imbalance:
Leg length discrepancy
A tight psoas muscle can cause your pelvis to rotate forward. This in turn can cause an an internal rotation of your leg on the affected side. The opposite leg will rotate externally in an effort to counter-balance.
This will make the affected leg longer so that every time you take a step, it drives your leg up into your hip socket. This can lead to functional leg length discrepancy.
Knee and low back pain
If you experience knee or low back pain with no apparent cause, it may be coming from your psoas muscles. When your femur is in essence locked into your hip socket due to a tight psoas muscle, rotation in the joint can’t occur. This can cause your knee and low back to torque.
When your psoas is too short or tight, it can pull your pelvis into an anterior tilt, compressing the spine and pulling your back into hyperlordosis or “duck butt.”If your psoas is overstretched or weak, it can flatten the natural curve of your lumbar spine creating a “flat butt.” This misalignment is characterized by tight hamstrings pulling down on the sitting bones, which causes the sacrum to lose its natural curve and results in a flattened lumbar spine.
This can lead to low-back injury, especially at the intervertebral discs. You may also feel pain at the front of your hip. Finally, it is possible for your psoas muscles to be both tight and overstretched. In this case, your pelvis is pulled forward in front of your center of gravity, causing your back to curve (swayback) and your head to poke forward.
Difficulty moving your bowels
A tight psoas muscle can contribute to or even cause constipation. A large network of lumbar nerves and blood vessels passes through and around the psoas muscles. Tightness in the psoas muscles can impede blood flow and nerve impulses to the pelvic organs and legs.
In addition, when the psoas is tight your torso shortens decreasing the space for your internal organs. This affects food absorption and elimination. As such it can contribute to constipation, as well as sexual dysfunction.
An imbalance in your psoas muscles can be partially responsible for menstrual cramps as it puts added pressure in your reproductive organs.
A tight psoas muscle can create a thrusting forward of the ribcage. This causes shallow, chest breathing, which limits the amount of oxygen taken in and encourages over usage of your neck muscles.
Your psoas muscles create a muscular shelf that your kidneys and adrenals rest on. As you breathe properly your diaphragm moves and your psoas muscles gently massage these organs, stimulating blood circulation. But, when the psoas muscles become imbalanced, so do your kidneys and adrenal glands, causing physical and emotional exhaustion.
9 Tips for Keeping Your Psoas Muscles Happy and Healthy
Exercise, sitting in your favorite chair, wearing shoes, and even unhealed physical and emotional injuries can cause imbalance in your psoas muscles. Getting things back in balance will give you a greater range of motion and relief from pain. Plus, you feel more grounded and relaxed!
Here are some tips for getting things back in balance:
Avoid sitting for extended periods.
If you must sit for work or other reasons, sit with good posture and be sure your hips are level or slightly higher than your knees. Avoid bucket seats and chairs without support for your low back. Try to get up and move around every hour.
Add support to your car seat.
Use a rolled up towel underneath your sit bones and/ or behind your lumbar spine to keep the psoas and hip sockets released. If you are traveling long distances, stop every 3 hours to stretch and walk around for 10 minutes.
Lay off extreme exercise routines.
We don’t mean completely or forever. But, if you are a power walker, distance runner or sprinter, or even if you do a lot of sit-ups, you may want to alternate your workouts.
Try Resistance Flexibility exercises.
Resistance Flexibility exercises can do wonders for your fascia.
To strengthen your psoas, lay on your back with your hips abutting the wall next to a door frame. Raise one leg straight so that it is against the wall. (Your other leg will extend through the door way.) Bend your extended leg and using your hands to slow down the movement and create resistance, bring your bent knee toward your chest.
Do this while also pressing your raised leg into the wall. Then reverse the motion of your bent leg. As you straighten it, continue to create resistance using your hands to push your leg out as your leg resists.
How to Apply Acupressure for Back Pain
First of all you need to “find” your spine in your foot. Sit on the floor with your legs crossed. Pick up any foot and loot at its inner edge. There is a line between the heel and big toe, which is a projection of the spine. Visually divide the line into several parts: the sacrum, lower back, chest and cervical spine. Now use your thumb to massage the line from the heel towards the toe. Do the massage with enough strength but within the rational scope. If there are problems in your spine, you will easily find their reflections in your foot during the massage. They will be felt as painful or sometimes hard points. While working with them you are actually working with your spine, but indirectly, since there is a close connection between them and the latter. What you do is the relaxation of the same nerve endings that make you keep tension in the back. The first relaxing effect will be observed right from the first massage session.
Feet Pressure Points For Back Pain Relief: How All This Works?
Does acupressure work for back pain? Yes, it does, and there is no mystery about it. Our soles and palms are the main organs of touch, and the 72, 000 nerve endings converge here (in yoga they are called 72,000 energy channels, or nadi). Palms and feet adequately assess the situation (temperature, wind, humidity, and more) and “report back” about it all the organs and systems of the body directly. Through this process, heat, and moisture regulating (and others) mechanisms are carried out without the intervention of our consciousness. But we can also use this to our advantage to reap the benefits: massage your feet – relax your body, place your feet into water – all your nervous system relaxes, put the feet into warm – all your body warms; and through acupressure you can relieve pain and ease the condition of all the organs and body systems.
How To Use Acupressure For Back Pain: More On Technique
Preparation. Wash your hands and feet with warm water, and pat dry with a towel. Heat the massage oil slightly.The position of the body. Sit with your legs crossed. If you feel tension in the back, make a support for your back and buttocks. Put a cushion under the knee of the massaging leg, and grasp the foot.Massage. At first, lubricate both feet with the heated oil. Then massage the feet one by one. Rub the soles from heel to toe and back. Twist and pull each toe. Press the foot from its edges for a few times. Then massage the reflex zones: use your thumb to press hard and rub the area in a circular motion. After the acupressure pat the soles. Take a relaxed foot with your hand and rotate it to work on joints: ankle, toes, and heel. Make sure the foot (and leg) does not strain; all the motions should be done with your hands only.Massaging feet with the elbow. It is very convenient and requires much less effort than the massage with your fingers. You have to take the lotus or half lotus pose, and massage your feet with your elbow. You can increase the pressing force by pressing your palm with the other one.The frequency and duration. The optimal way is to massage your feet for 5 minutes each daily or every other day. Then the effect will not take long to come.
The contraindicated conditions are: infectious disease with fever; tumor or metastasis risk, varicose veins, swelling of the joints of the foot (You have to massage only the reflex zones, without touching the joints). You shouldn’t massage subcutaneous seals, fungal infections, warts and moles.