Top 5 Causes of Back Pain in Women
1. Too much sitting
The biggest issue with sitting is that it is a very sedentary, repetitive activity. It makes our hip flexors and hamstrings short and tight, our glute muscles long and weak, and puts strong compressive force on our lumbar spines. This leads to low back and hip pain over time. So what can you do?
My recommendation: convert your work area to a standing desk and/or take 10 minutes every hour to stand and walk around.
2. Poor breathing
Are your feet always cold? Do you have acid reflux/heartburn? Always yawning? Gasping for air and not sure why? Mid-back or neck pain?
If any of these sound like you then you may have a breathing dysfunction. Poor breathing habits can develop for a number of reasons. Stress and anxiety are often the biggest culprits, causing us to breathe very shallow and only through our upper chest instead of our stomach. This makes our diaphragm very tight and immobile putting pressure on our esophagus and blood vessels supplying the lower body.
Try this! Spotify (a relatively well known music app) has a podcast called ‘Meditation Minis Podcast’ that includes a series of short exercises to help you relax/reduce stress all while focussing on slow, controlled, deep breathing- you may find this very helpful!
3. Previous injuries
Undoubtedly, the #1 risk factor for future injuries is having previous injuries. That knee or ankle injury you had 5 years ago matters. Our bodies natural response to injury is to divert force away from the injured structure- that makes sense- in the short-term. The problem is that after the initial injury has healed, the dysfunctional ‘shift’ in your body remains. For example, if you sprained your right ankle, you will shift to the left, putting more weight on your left side. After a few years of no symptoms you wake up with back pain puzzled by its origin. Years of over-loading and compressing the left side caused it to be over-worked and broken down.
4. Surgeries and scars
Surgery (and the scar that results) is a trauma, and is seen as such by your brain. In many cases every layer of skin, fat, muscle and fascia is cut and then reconnected. The result is tightness and limited mobility in the area of the scar. Over time this has a global effect causing certain muscles to become over-worked and others under-worked to compensate for the scarred area.
Aside for women (C-section scarring):
If you you’ve had a c-section (or two) and you have back pain there is a reason for it. Often the deep core muscles that support your spine become very weak leading to overuse of low back muscles to compensate. Gentle scar release followed by core activation work is a solution to this problem in many women following a c-section.
5. Poor mid-back/thoracic spine mobility
Our mid-back is designed for mobility and our low back is designed for stability, load bearing and force transfer between the upper and lower extremity. Most people are very stiff through their mid-back and move through all spinal segments together, like a ‘block’, or even worse, get their mobility through their low back, leading to painful shearing forces and possible injury.