Back pain doesn’t just make lifting things or reaching for the top shelf difficult – since your back supports your entire body, any problem with it can make even simple tasks like walking a literal pain.
Strains, “slipped discs”, fractures – we’re all familiar with the usual sources of back pain.
But these three aren’t the only types of back pain.
The spinal column is a complex amalgamation of different parts. As such, there are many things that could potentially go wrong.
One lesser-known types of lower back problem are back muscle spasms. What are they, and how are they treated? Our Highett physiotherapist explains…
What causes back spasms?
In physio jargon, back spasms refer to involuntary contractions in your lower back muscles.
This can manifest as:
- Random muscle twitches
- Tightness in your back
- Dull aches when moving
- Cramping in back muscles
- Knots and stiffness
- Any combination of the above
It’s important to note when it comes to back spasms that they aren’t a problem of themselves – rather, they’re a symptom of other back problems.
This is what we in the business call “secondary” pain.
Back spasms might not the first thing that happens (i.e. the root cause of your pain)… but they are often the first thing you feel!
Essentially, back spasms are your muscles saying “no, we’re not going to take it anymore” – they hang up their work boots and essentially go on strike, locking themselves up to relieve pressure and protect themselves from damage.
What causes back spasms?
Anything that puts excessive pressure on your back muscles can cause spasms. Some of the more common causes include…
Your back is designed to stand straight – this is the most comfortable method of distributing weight.
As such, postural problems can put unnecessary strain on your back muscles and causing spasms.
And with technology continuing to creep into our lives, we’re seeing an upwards trend in posture problems!
Not enough exercise
It’s no secret that we live increasingly sedentary lives.
If your back muscles aren’t receiving the workout they deserve, they can weaken over time.
This harms their ability to support your weight, leading to back spasms when it becomes too much to bear.
A lack of exercise isn’t the only thing that causes spasms – sometimes, too much of it can cause them too!
Like we mentioned above, back spasms are your back muscles’ automatic defence mechanism. As such, pushing yourself too far can also trigger back spasms.
Stress and anxiety
When under intense stress or pressure, many of unconsciously tense up our muscles.
Additionally, many of us are less physically active when under the pump – think back to every late-nighter you’ve pulled at the office.
This can result in sore, tense muscles that lead to back spasms.
Treating back spasms with your Highett physio
Treating back spasms depends on the root cause of your spasms. If your back muscles can handle it however, we generally recommend physical therapy.
Back physiotherapy focuses on building strength in your back, building your back muscles up so that they can better handle strain.
In particular, you’ll want to…
Strengthen your back muscles
Your physiotherapist prescribes exercises that encourage your back muscles to contract and expand. This loosens your back muscles, providing immediate pain relief.
More importantly, this strengthens your muscles and increase their capacity for movement.
While one-off stretches can relieve tension, they won’t stop back spasms unless they’re performed regularly.
Go through the motions
When dealing with back spasms, it’s important to run yourself through a wide range of movements.
That’s because your back muscles are connected to almost every other muscle in your body.
As such, your back muscles perform a lot of different movements – your routine needs to reflect that by including a mix of lifts, step-ups, squats and lunges, among others.
It’s also important to perform a mix of long range and short range exercises.
That means big stretches that target major muscle groups as well as more fine movements across all planes of movement: horizontal, vertical and otherwise.
We all know how important warm-ups are. But equally as important are “cool-down” exercises!
The jury’s still out on whether cool-down exercises prevent muscle soreness and tension.
The one thing everybody can agree on is that gentle post-workout exercise can be extremely effective at ingraining good habits.
This is because your muscles are still “hot” after a workout. They’re limber and flexible, which means flexibility and strength-building exercises are more likely to stick when performed here.
Get physiotherapy for your back – call Physio AUS today!
While they’re not as painful as a strain, fracture or slipped disc, back spasms are still a major concern!
Whether you’re suffering from back spasms or an old injury that’s flaring up again, give Physio AUS a call.
Our back physiotherapists specialise in helping to resolve back problems.
Using our unique treatment system, we don’t just build strength in your back muscles – we also gives you everything you need to avoid the return of back pain for the rest of your life.
Visit our Highett clinic today!