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Are my weak ____ causing my lower back pain?

Before going any further, I want you to think back to a period when you experienced lower back pain and do a quick audit on the following things:

  • How were your stress levels at this time?

  • How was your sleep at this time?

  • What was your exercise routine like at this time?

  • Were you eating nourishing foods?

  • What was your relationship with alcohol and/or drugs?

  • How were the relationships in your life going?

  • Did you feel financially secure?

  • Was your pain worse at work?

  • Were there any significant life events going on at the same time?

The reason I want you to think about this is because we now know that lower back pain is such a multi-dimensional and complex issue. We cannot pin-point the cause of your back pain to one thing and we certainly can’t point the finger straight away at the strength (or lack of!) of your glutes or ‘core’ muscles.

To understand this, we need to have a basic idea of how pain works in the brain.

The brain decides what we perceive to be painful or not. Our sensitivity to a painful stimulus is influenced by a number of factors but particularly our thoughts, feelings and emotions around that specific event/stimulus.

Other things that can make us more sensitive to things being painful are lack of sleep and higher stress levels etc. (possibly why more people experience lower back pain at work than on holiday!).

Now, by saying this, I am not insinuating that the pain you experience/d is not real or in your head. Lower back pain (and all types of pain) is VERY real and everyone’s experience is different. Hence why we can’t just make a blanket statement blaming one thing. Working with someone to look at the whole picture is going to bring you the most success.

So why did strengthening your glutes or core when you last had back pain make it go away? Or at least improve things? I predict this to be due to a number of reasons:

  • You were working with a health professional and had someone to talk to about what you were experiencing

  • You had someone there to support you and educate you on what you were doing and why

  • You believed that the exercises/training you were doing would help

  • You were moving and exercising more and doing something positive for your body, releasing happy chemicals

Next time you experience a bout of lower back pain, come back to the questions above and do a life audit. More frequently than not, I think you will find that if you address these areas, your glutes and core can be saved from the blame! Still strengthen them anyway though, because that helps in a lot of other areas of life 😉

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