Occasional lower back problems

January 18, 2018

Hi, I have had occasional lower back problems over the years but they never last and I have been able to get rid of them with exercise and gentle stretching. I also generally know what has caused them.

However for the last ten days I have had pain which is hardly noticeable during the day but is extreme at night and keeps me awake.  Lying on my back, my preferred sleeping position, brings on the most pain and wakes me up.  My usual self-help regime is not working.

I did a particularly intense stomach exercise routine just before all this started but find it difficult to believe it could have caused it. Help!

January 18, 2018

Hi Alison

Is the only issue pain at night, with no other restriction, pain or stiffness during the day?

It’s not possible to reproduce the pain at all (or make it better or worse), apart from nighttime? What position do you sleep in or feel uncomfy in, and how long does it take for it to come on, and what do you do to take it away.

Do let me know!
The Guru

Alison replied to the Guru:

Up until yesterday the pain was mostly at night. There was some residual pain in the morning which eased quite quickly, leaving a tired feeling more than anything else.

I usually go to sleep on my back. After a couple of hours,  I have been waking up feeling uncomfortable.  When I try to turn, the pain is sharp, particularly on the right hand side. It settles a little lying on my side with my knees pulled up then I wake up again feeling very uncomfortable and in  pain when I try to turn. This happens several times, the worst was on Tuesday night. I suppose it’s hard to replicate in the day because it’s mostly on trying to turn that the pain becomes extreme.

For the first time yesterday I noticed a tightness in my thoracic spine during the day and started using a foam roller. I relax my spine over the roller in segments, holding and breathing. I also lie on it, opening out my arms to the side. By the third session it was noticeably easier.

Last night I woke up quite often but the pain was considerably less than the previous night. My thoracic spine is very tight again this morning so I will continue to use the foam roller. Should I be doing anything else?  Can you give me any clues about what is going on?

Thank you!
The Guru replied:

Sounds like you’ve discovered the key to success – having adequate movement through your thoracic spine is key, as it takes the excessive load out of your mobile and painful lumbar spine. What you’ve done is loss control of how you move your lower back, it’s essentially over stretched, so your body compensates by stiffening up your thoracic spine – as all your movement has ben take up elsewhere OR you’ve stiffened up your thoracic spine (posture!) which forces your lumbar spine to compensate and move more. Take your pick – same result!

You do need to burn the candle at both ends – thoracic spine mobility and gluteal stability to control your lumbar spine pain.

There are some super ideas and solutions here for thoracic mobility and rehab progression.

The Guru

Guru Responded

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