Both patients and doctors might assume the source of your pain is where your back hurts. For example, if you are suffering from lower back pain, you and your doctor might think the pain is coming from your lower back. However, there are many overlooked causes of back pain, and I am here to show you how to fix these!
Your Feet Are Imbalanced
Many back problems stem from an imbalance in your feet. For example, you might wear uncomfortable shoes all night at a party, and your back hurts the next day. Since your feet are the foundation of your entire body, an imbalance in your feet will create a cascade of imbalance, resonating throughout your back.
To check if you have a foot imbalance, look at the soles of your shoes or sneakers. Do they wear down evenly? Does your right shoe and left shoe wear down in the same way? If not, a foot imbalance could be causing your back pain.
I also suggest taking note of when your back is hurting. When you are on your feet a lot, does your back bother you? Do you love the idea of getting off of your feet? If so, you could be suffering from a foot imbalance that is possibly causing your back pain.
At the end of the day, my legs and feet used to feel like a ton of bricks, and my lower back would ache. Since shoes are made for a foot model, standard shoes without orthotics certainly don't work for everyone. The simple solution - buy a custom-made pair of orthotics from a chiropractor or podiatrist. The doctor will take a mold or scan of your feet, and then make customized inserts for your shoes. Orthotics changed my life! Not only will your feet thank you, but your back will also!
You're Clenching Your Teeth!
Clenching your teeth and jaw is a common cause of neck and upper back pain, and even lower back pain. There's a good chance you're clenching your jaw as you read this! Stress is the number one factor of back pain so clenching your jaw has a significant impact on your back. Instead, try to relax your jaw. Often, patients are unaware of how much tension they are holding in their jaws. Just by telling patients that they are clenching their teeth can be enough to fix the problem. Awareness is key!
For those who may need extra help, I recommend trying an over-the-counter mouth guard while sleeping. I like the Dentek Platinum Dental Guard, which usually sells for less than $30. When you sleep, a mouth guard ensures that you do not have the harmful effects of clenching your teeth and jaw. Dentists can also make customized mouth guards, but first, try an over-the-counter mouth guard because it is less expensive. You can also incorporate breathing exercises to release your jaw tension.
Your Abs Are Over-contracted
Did you ever think that your abs are too strong? Your abs could be throwing your back out! By spending your whole day hunched forward, possibly over your phone or computer, your abs are getting tighter and tighter. In the process, you are becoming more forward-hunched.
In a previous post, Balance Your Core And Reduce Back Pain, I discussed how to assess your core and provided tips on how to balance it. The plan includes using my Backbridge (or found here) to put extension into your routine to counteract flexion, or crunching or hunching. Additionally, work on standing tall, correcting your posture, and incorporating anti-core imbalance exercises. In my new book, Sit-Ups Are Stupid & Crunches Are Crap and post Exercises To Balance Your Core And Reduce Back Pain, I suggest specific stretches that can help you fix your abs and relieve back pain.