Muscles That Cause Constant Lower Back Pain

Constant lower back pain is a common symptom caused by tension in the muscles that impact your pelvis and that move your legs.

The muscles will pull your pelvis in different directions, and in doing that they not only put stress on the insertion points on the bones/joints, but they also rotate your pelvis, and are responsible for constant lower back pain.

There is a logical sequence of problems that occur because of the pelvic rotation.  This sequence is explained fully in The 15 Minute Back Pain Solution and the treatments are also done in a logical sequence to release the tension on the bones and joints.

Before explaining the domino-effect played by each of the muscles involved in constant lower back pain, it will help to explain each muscle and it’s normal movements.  There are two sets of muscles:

  • the Primary muscles are the most important as they are actually moving your lumbar vertebrae and pelvis,
  • the Secondary muscles add to the constant lower back pain, but only because of the impact of the Primary muscles.

The 3 primary low back muscles that cause constant lower back pain are:

  • Psoas – originates on the front side of your lumbar vertebrae and insert into the top/inside of your femur (thigh bone). Normal action is to pull your lumbar vertebrae forward and down so you can bend forward.
  • Iliacus – originates along the entire inside curve of your pelvis and inserts into the same point on your femur as the psoas.  These two muscles are also called the iliopsoas because of their close association to each other.  When your iliacus contracts you pick up your leg to walk up steps.  When you want to sit down both muscles will contract.
  • Quadratus Lumborum (QL) – originates on the top of your posterior pelvis and inserts into your 12th (last) rib.  When your quadratus lumborum muscle contracts it will

Secondary muscles that become involved in constant lower back pain are:

  • Rectus Femoris (a quadriceps muscle of the thigh). This thigh muscle is the only one of the four quadriceps muscles that originates on the tip of the pelvis. The other three quadriceps all originate on your femur.  All four quadriceps merge into a single tendon, called the patella tendon, which then inserts into the front of your shin bone (tibia). The normal action for the rectus femoris, and other three quadriceps, is to straighten your bent knee.  While not a Primary muscle since it does not start the rotation of your pelvis, the rectus femoris is a major key to constant low back pain because it will hold your pelvis down in the front.
  • Erector Spinae – a group of three muscles that originate at the bottom of your spine and inserts in multiple locations along your back (see link for visual graphic). These muscles are powerful and because of repetitive strain they go into spasm, causing constant low back pain (at the origination site) and pain in areas of your entire back from the low back to your neck.
  • Gluteus Maximus – brings your thigh back, for example when standing up from a sitting position. Not involved in the rotation of the pelvis, however, when your pelvis is rotated because of the above muscles, the rotation will impact your gluteus maximus and the common pain referral area is the low back.

Constant back pain is frequently the end result of hours of sitting still.

When you sit your psoas and iliacus are held contracted the entire time. This causes a phenomenon called “muscle memory.” Muscle memory covers topics from a baby learning how to walk, to an athlete learning how to play a sport without thinking of his body position, or to a pianist learning a complicated piece of music without needing to read the music. However, on this website we are looking at how muscle memory affects the length of muscle fibers.

Muscle memory dictates that when a muscle is held in a contracted position for a period of time, it will actually shorten to that length. When you then want to move in the opposite direction the now-shorter muscle will put a strain on the insertion point. If this is happening to the muscles that affect your lower spine, you will have a constant lower back pain that will only release when the tension in the muscles is released.

TP-Chart-8-Serratus-Anterior-lower back pain

How muscles are the cause constant lower back pain:

Using the example of sitting at your desk for hours while you are working, your psoas and iliacus muscles pulled you into the sitting position.

  • Muscle memory shortened the muscle fibers because of the repetitive strain placed on them as you stayed in the same position.
  • When you try to stand up the shortened muscles are pulling your lumbar vertebrae and pelvis forward and down because the muscles can’t lengthen as you go to stand up.
  • As your pelvis is rotating down in the front, your rectus femoris muscle is now too long to do the job of straightening your leg
  • The body ties a “knot,” which is actually a spasm, in the middle of the rectus femoris muscle so it can do it’s job, allowing you to stand up.
  • That’s fine until you want to sit down or go up steps, the knot in your rectus femoris is preventing your legs from bending at the knee.
  • The body pulls further on your anterior pelvis so your rectus femoris is long enough to let your knee bend.

But this scenario is pulling down more on your lumbar vertebrae – and you feel it as constant lower back pain!

This group of muscles gets even more involved in constant lower back pain because:

  • As your pelvis is going down in the front, it’s going UP in the back.
  • As your pelvis goes up in the back, it causes the bone to press up into your sciatic nerve, and you have the pain of sciatica.
  • Also, your quadratus lumborum is made too long to do it’s job of lifting your hip because it’s origination point has moved up.
  • The body resolves that by creating a “knot” in the muscle.
  • When you then try to sit down you have constant lower back pain because your quadratus lumborum is too short to enable your pelvis to tilt the way it’s necessary for you to sit.

You now have constant lower back pain when you are standing AND when you are sitting!

But there is an answer…a treatment that works to relieve constant lower back pain quickly, at home, and without drugs.

The 15 Minute Back Pain Solution explains this muscle phenomenon in more detail, and has a logical 7-Day self-treatment program.

Colorful charts, pictures, and descriptive text will walk you through treating every muscle that impacts your pelvis. This will allow your pelvis to rotate back to where it belongs.

Equally as important, you know how to treat each muscle so you can stop pain the moment it shows its ugly head!

You can stop constant lower back pain – and pain anywhere in your back.  All it takes is some direction, some patience, some focused energy….and a ball.

It’s easy….it’s logical….and it’s safe.