Salvere Blog: Oh My Aching Back!

If you suffer from chronic, or even occasional low back pain, you are not alone. According to the American Chiropractic Association, 31 million Americans experience low back pain at any given time. Over 80% of us will experience low back pain at some point in our lives. Back pain is the second most common reason that people visit their doctors, second only to upper respiratory infections ( The good news is that your low back pain may originate someplace other than your back and it may be curable.


It might come as a surprise to you to learn that some low back pain stems from tightness/shortness of the muscles of the hips.   Specifically, when the hip flexor muscles are overly tight/short, they can cause discomfort in the low back.   The hip flexors are comprised of two muscles; the illiacus and the psoas.   In conjunction, you might have heard them referred to singularly as the illiopsoas or simply, the “hip flexors.”


The name, “hip flexor” comes from their function of lifting the knee (a.k.a. flexing at the hip) as when you climb stairs, walk, or run.  If you’re a runner or a cyclist, you are certainly familiar with these muscles and they are probably tight. On the flip side, if you sit at a computer all day, these muscles are likely to be short and weak.


Here’s where we connect the hipbone to the backbone; or more accurately, the illopsoas to that pain in your back. Due to the fact that the illiopsoas attaches at your hips and at your spine, when the illopsoas get tight/short, it causes your pelvis to rotate forward (anterior pelvic tilt).   This increased curve in your low back affects the alignment of your entire spine which in turn leads to a forward (jutting) head position and pain between the shoulder blades. Got that too? Of course, tight/weak hip flexors and an anterior pelvic tilt are magnified tremendously by wearing high heels, spending hours in front of a computer monitor, driving a car, and sitting on the couch!


Back to the good news: proper conditioning exercises combined with improving range of motion might help relieve your back pain. Bear in mind that it is always best to rule out a structural issue or mechanical injury such as a herniated disc. In the event that no injury is found, find a conditioning program and stretching that you can do safely to feel better!


by Lynne Olsen , trainer at Salvere Health and Fitness. If you’d like to contact Lynne, email her at or call her at (443) 540-7564.


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