Low Back Pain
Low back pain is one of the most common problems out there. It may be constant or fluctuating, sharp or dull, on the left or the right, but most people have something they would describe as lower back pain. It makes a lot of sense too, considering the lower spine has to bear all of the weight of the upper body, and transfer it to the lower body. That's a big job, especially because the lower back doesn't have a lot of support from surrounding bones, like the pelvis or ribs. Instead, this area relies entirely on muscles for it's stability.
When you think about the lower back don't limit your perspective to the back of your body. Think about the abdomen in front and the waists on the sides, because that whole band from the front to the sides to the back is all one unit, which the lower back is a part of.
When you have pain in the lower back, you can be sure that the whole band described above is imbalanced, meaning tighter muscles are pulling more than weaker muscles. Whenever the muscles of the low back, waists, and abdomen are out of balance the uneven forces pull the pelvis below and the ribs above, creating twists and compressions in the lower back.
When your back starts to feel weak or tight, take a minute to see if you can figure out one important point - which hip is higher.
The Higher Hip
Rest both of your hands on your hips. Those are actually the pelvic bones you're feeling, and if you poke around a little you'll be able to feel the top edges of those bones. Right along the sides of the waist, see if you can feel the top of both the right and left at the same time. Of course you want to be sitting or standing straight when you do this. Then try to feel which side is higher, towards your head, and which is lower.
If you can't tell any difference, don't worry about it, there's no reason you should be able to because you've never done it before. If you practice this every once in a while, soon enough you'll know right where your fingers go and you'll start to be able to get your eyes in your fingertips, and feel which hip is higher.
The higher hip always tells you which side of your lower back is shorter and tighter. This is obvious, if your right hip is higher than your left hip, that means that the right waist and lower back are also shorter. This is valuable information because if you know how your body is imbalanced, you have a much better chance of fixing it. Whether you use rollers or stretches or massage or any other technique, you'll know which side needs to strengthen and which side needs to lengthen.
For all lower back issues I recommend an easy Yoga Pose that creates space in the spine and is particularly helpful when one side is much tighter than the other. Stand, place your hands on a table, walk the feet back and stretch the hips toward the wall behind you, making the spine as long as you can. The hands should be shoulder-width apart and the feet should be right under the hips and parallel. Get my 7 free videos from my homepage if you really want to get the best results from this pose, and click here to watch a video about Yoga poses.
This classic evaluation technique of feeling the hip bones and assessing which is higher is commonly used by chiropractors, osteopaths, physical therapists, and body workers of many styles. Practice it every once in a while. You'll start to see how one of your hips tends to be higher, which you'll naturally begin balancing in your every day activities.
Christian Leeby is the creator of mMiracleOfYoga.com. He has had excellent results treating low back pain with the right Yoga postures for over 25 years.