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Recurring Low Back Strain

Looking for some help with a lower back strain. It’s been recurring for a few years now. Sometimes I’m fine for months, then one day I’ll be picking something off the ground and the pain comes back for a week or two.

It’s a very localized pain right above my butt crack where the spine meets the pelvis. It’s a dull aching pain when not moving, but bending or over extending my back causes a localized electric type pain.

X-rays are normal, doc won’t give me an MRI saying it’s a waste of money since there’s nothing he can do for a strain.

My best guess is that the original strain healed with scar tissue and my low back is now weakened by that, making it easy to Re-injur.

Anyone have experience with that? I’ve tried chiropractic which seems to speed up the recovery a little. I was curious about trying acupuncture.

I wish it would heal completely, but I don’t think that’s in the cards.

The site you’ve described doesn’t seem to be muscular, and to me sounds more bony. Do you remember if the chiro gave you a specific diagnosis?

The evidence base for acupuncture isn’t amazing, but enough people get relief from it to justify it as a valid approach. Try it, and if it helps that’s awesome.

I went to see my primary about it first, he sent me to a hip doctor, who then sent me to he spinal doctor. The one thing they all agreed on was that my disks looked great, no Bulging.

The spinal orthopedist said it was muscle or tendon (soft tissue). But he wouldn’t know which without an MRI, which he wouldn’t give me stating that there isn’t a treatment for it. I thought it might be an SI joint issue, but he brushed that off. He was kind of a jerk.

I opted for the chiro after all this, but he couldn’t tell me one way or the other. He was just interested in giving me an adjustment.

Maybe just a string of bad luck with doctors, lol.

Yeah man that sounds like a lot of poor communication. Did you end up getting chiropractic adjustment?

Yes I did. I feel like it sped up the healing process, but it gets reinjured often, which is why I’m hypothesizing some kind of scar tissue that is weakening the muscle or tendon that is getting repeatedly strained.

Atrophy as a result of injury is possible. Did your chiro or doctors talk to you about exercises to manage your back?

No, unfortunately he did not. I found some of the standard exercises on YouTube for low back pain. I didn’t stick with anything long enough to know if it would help with prevention. My ego gets the best of me and I keep attempting to squat and deadlift when I know I shouldn’t. I’ve tried several variations, and pretty much determined I can’t squat or deadlift with a barbell, but can do lunges and split squats. I do want to try a hex/trap bar as well, but don’t have one at the moment.

Look up Dr Stuart McGill’s stuff. Helped me out: self diagnosis and treatment according to your unique presentation. Plenty of YouTube content but his books are worth a look/buy/pirate. Won’t be an easy process, takes a lot of work, but it’ll work you through it at a layman level and if that’s not successful give you some tips to find a professional who is actually gonna help you.

Many reasons that back pain is poorly treated in a lot of cases no diagnosis or diagnosis of non specific back pain. Often times back pain doesn’t fit into a near diagnosis of disk or strain of a specific muscle etc.

+1 on Stu McGill, but make sure that you don’t just leave your rehabilitation to the McGill Big Three. With correct management, most people will be able to return to squatting and deadlifting a barbell

Thanks guys I’ll check it out.

It sounds like you’re bending over by rounding or extending your lower back, not moving through your hips.

If that’s the case you’ll need to figure out how keep your lower back Neutral (pelvis level with ribs stacked on top) while you bend over and hinge up using hamstrings and glutes. Not locking out your legs and flexing/extending your lower back.

This video sucks, but at 2:00 Dr McGill shows some guy how to tighten has abs, engage he lats and bend over by hinging at the hips, not bending his back.

In this video Matt Wenning is showing his little follower up to get prepared for squatting by “pre activating” his hamstrings and glutes to take pressure off his lower back. At 2:45 little dude is doing 45 degree back raises. At first he’s using all low back then Wenning tries to correct him and cue him to use hams/glutes and keep his back still.

More on the back raises, but this videos goes into more detail about his hips not back.

Here’s Bret Contreras showing a bunch of variations of bending over focusing on driving with glutes and hamstrings not low back.

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Was your chiropractor a good one? I have the exact problem you do and saw three different chiropractors that helped me at the moment, but didn’t do anything to teach me to help prevent the issue. I’m going to a VERY good one now and he keeps up on studies regarding the latest findings in anatomy, and he’s made a huge difference for me. Find one that teaches you how to move and gives you pre-hab that you can do to prevent injury. Make sure your chiro looks at your X-rays and gives you a verbal evaluation of your spinal situation, then makes a plan to get you healthy and keep you healthy.

Also, McGill is a wizard and a lot of his content has been helpful to me as well.

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I’ve seen half a dozen chiropractors in my life and not a single one has cared about x-rays haha. Maybe I can research it a bit more.

I’m not sure I should be traditional squatting Or deadlifting at all anymore. The hip doctor I went to found that I have a deformed hip socket on my right, and a bone spur on my left. The effect of this causes my whole torso to rotate 45 degrees to my left when standing relaxes with my toes pointing forward.

So essentially I am rotating my spine if I squat or deadlift like a normal person would. I created a thread about that a while ago and a lot of people had some really good ideas for alternative exercises. I tried staggered stance squats and deadlifts, but that ended up being a no go, so now I’m going to be focusing on single leg variations.

It makes a huge difference, because a good chiro will use x-rays to find the root of the issue and then know how to treat it and how you need to train/move to help fix it. I’ve got Spina Bifida Occulta and my lumbar vertebrae are all slightly deformed from it, plus I’ve leaned to the right my whole life and that’s caused my right leg to be short. My chiro has been working with me on correcting it and has been giving me exercises and teaching me how I can squat and deadlift without causing any further issues. If possible, try and find one that lifts. They will have a better understanding of your needs.

That’s how any good relationship starts.


Tell me about it. haha

Great point!

Another drill for this I find very helpful is the butt touch.

Stand about 3/4-1.5 feet away from a wall, facing away from the wall and try to touch the wall with your bum. Nice and simple

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It’s all covered by McGill but

Neutral spine position and using your glutes may be near universal as far as back pain goes but would still recommend OP doing a full assessment. Say spinal stenosis and extension patterns being the pain trigger biasing flexion could be the way to go.

Very important to de sensitise to pain triggers and bring down irritability first before going to dynamic movement pattern. There’s years of pain there to unpack and psychosocial/pain science stuff to unpack.

For the time being I’ve opted to cut out barbell squats an deadlifts. I just don’t think I can do them properly. I have obvious and diagnosed hip issues, and my hamstring mobility is very poor. I need to work on mobility, which I will be doing, and I will be doing single leg variations of squats and deadlifts for now.

I will definitely look more into McGill, I haven’t had a chance to delve into his work yet.

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Is not strictly legal but u can pirate his stuff pretty easy. But like don’t because it’s naughty of course

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