If your back hurts, it makes sense to suspect something in your back as the source of the pain. However, the many musculoskeletal interconnections within the body mean that sometimes the source of a symptom in one part actually lies in another part. This is particularly true of lower back pain; dysfunction in another area of the body, such as the hips or legs, can easily translate to pain in the back.
One remote cause of back pain is muscle insufficiency below the back. When muscles don’t do their jobs properly, pain can result in a couple ways: First, other muscles will compensate for the work the weak ones can’t do, leading to strain, and second, weak muscles may fail to stabilize joints, causing a chain reaction of pain.
People with chronic back pain may want to consider the gluteus medius as a potential source. This stabilizer muscle sits on the outer hip, with a third of it covered by the gluteus maximus. The medius is an important stabilizer muscle. It helps to keep the pelvis level, to stabilize the sacroiliac joints in the back of the hips and to keep the hips and knees aligned when the hips are flexed. If the gluteus medius is weak, pelvic instability and muscle compensation in the back can result in back pain.
Researchers recently sought to assess whether there is a connection between gluteus medius weakness and back pain. They tested the strength of the muscle in 21 patients with chronic back pain compared with 22 control participants without pain. They found that patients with back pain had significantly weaker gluteus medius muscles. While this doesn’t prove that the gluteus medius is the source of pain – weakness could also result from a lack of activity due to back pain – it identifies another area of dysfunction correlated with back pain that should, whether source or symptom, be addressed. See more on this study at www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov.
Another notable finding of this study was that the popular single leg standing test was not an accurate indicator of gluteal strength. In this test, the patient stands on one leg and the pelvis is checked for drooping to one side. The test may not be accurate due to the body’s tendency to compensate; other muscles may be performing the work of stabilizing the pelvis, thereby masking gluteal weakness. Other diagnostic methods, such as the hand dynamometer, may be better suited for testing gluteal strength.
One of the most efficient exercises for building strength in the gluteus medius is the side-lying hip abduction. See a video of this exercise at www.youtube.com.
The lower back, hips, buttocks and stomach all work together to hold the body upright and facilitate movement; a problem in one area often corresponds with a problem in another area. If you have back pain, it’s important to identify and resolve muscle insufficiencies throughout the body. Work your gluteus medius muscles for greater pelvic stability, and possibly less back pain.
For more helpful information on chronic pain management, check out Lose The Back Pain. A system designed by Jesse Cannone who has shown thousands of people to fix their own back pain. This is done by showing you how to analyse for your own particular lower back pain problem. Then you will be able to fix that problem through specific exercises.