Back pain is a huge problem for many people, whether you play a sport or you just work in an office all day. Regardless if you have a nagging back pain that just makes you move a little funny, or a more acute back pain that you just woke up with, you’re generally going to want to go to a physical therapist or a chiropractor, rather than a general practitioner physician, because a physician is probably just going to refer you to a PT or chiro. However, there’s still a lot you can do to self-treat. If your back pain isn’t the result of an acute fall or specific injury, the three general areas we would generally look at treating are your psoas, your glute, and your thoracic spine.
Generally speaking, when treating this kind of pain, we want to look at treating above and below the actual site of the pain. The psoas is a very centrally located muscle that actually into the front of your lumbar spine which can really make your back tight and cause muscle spasms. To treat the psoas, you’ll want a foam roller. To use the foam roller, lay on the ground with the foam roller positioned just under the bottom of your ribs. Cross your arms and lift your butt off the ground, then roll the foam roller up and down your back.
To work on the glutes, you will want a softball, or other rigid ball of a similar size. Sit sideways on the ball, as in the photo below, then roll the ball up and down until you find a spot that particularly hurts. Once you find a spot, roll the ball side to side on that spot for about a minute or until it loosens up before looking for another spot. If a spot is particularly stubborn, it can also help to keep the ball in place and pump your leg up and down to strip the trigger point.
Last, but not least, is the psoas, which is about two to three inches to the side of your belly button. Lay down with a softball under your psoas and roll it around until you find a particularly painful point. Once you find such a point, breathe deeply and try to sink into the ball. Hold that position until the pain starts to ease, continuing to breathe and relax into the floor.
Working on all three of these areas on a daily basis can go a long way in resolving most nagging back pain. If you are not noticing improvement after a week or so, it is time to seek out a medical professional. If you have questions about your back pain, our physical therapists are always happy to chat with you on the phone to help you guide you to the right treatment for your pain.