T Nation

Spinal Erector Pain/Tightness Left Side

Long time reader, first time poster because I need some outside help.

For the past 2 years I’ve suffered tightness and pain in my left spinal erector, it’s focused right along the pelvic bone or right between the pelvis and spine, sometimes it feels like it’s underneath the pelvis bone. Sometimes it spills over to my whole low back and lays me down for a few days. Two years ago, from lots of squatting and deadlifting with mediocre technique, I strained the left erector and also came away with an acute strain/bursitis/tendonitis in my right hip. They are related and one affects the other to an extent.

Saw two ortho’s who drugged me up and I did find a competent physical therapist. Saw him for about a year and we found plenty of imbalances. We worked out my tight IT bands, weak abs, weak glutes, tight piriformis, weak hip rotators, and weak hip adductors and abductors, with some anterior pelvic tilt sprinkled on top. I was using my left side a lot more than my right. And I can still feel the left doing more work on most bilateral exercises unless I mind muscle my right leg/hip/back.
I have not seen the PT in several months because my back was feeling okay (and I didn’t want to pay anymore!). Except now the pain has returned and I cannot attribute it to any acute event. I haven’t touched a loaded barbell in months.

My hip is doing a lot better save for some occasional tightness and the IT band will catch and snap over the femur head but that goes away pretty quick with a bit of stretching and rolling.

My left spinal erector refuses to heal. I’ve worked on stretching and rolling the left hamstring, quad, hip flexor, and piriformis which were slightly tighter than the right, and after a good stretch session my erector feels a bit better but a few minutes later, it tightens up again. I’ve been using Magnificent Mobility for a few weeks now, it helps open things up but again, the erector tightens up when I stop moving. Hip/back extensions for high reps either feel amazing or they hurt, hit or miss. And the left erector typically takes more load.

If I load up on NSAID’s the erector loosens but I don’t want to rely on pharmceuticals.

I sleep on a hard wood floor with minimal padding, supposedly this is good for low back injuries, I haven’t benefitted yet.

I foam roll often and use a tennis ball or tiger tail for the hard to reach places.

Thanks for reading, any thoughts are appreciated.

it’s most likely just the classic weak glutes and core situation. Most back problems generally are.

You should get checked out to make sure it’s not something more sinister but I bet you just need to strengthen you glutes and core, and most likely fix your form on moves like squats and deads.

drop the back extensions. They’re just keeping you moving from the lower back, not the glutes like you’re supposed to.

Thanks for the reply. I’ll increase the glute and core work some more. I’ve been using the reverse crunch to good effect. Is it as simple as more volume?

Maybe I should mention when I do back extensions, I can keep most of the tension on my glutes and hams until I hit the 30+ rep range, then I feel my erectors. I do them because the blood flow back there usually gets rid of the tightness, temporarily at least.

I’ve done barbell hip thrusts but always felt my low back kick in no matter how hard I tried to turn my pelvis posterior like Contreras advises. If I just use a 25lb plate for reps I can get a good burn but is that enough of a strength stimulus?

Today I attempted to train legs. After activating my glutes and abs and strapping on my Tommy Kono waist band I dove into bulgarian split squats and then promptly stopped when my left erector started to hurt. Moved on to deficit reverse lunges, left erector still hurting on every left leg rep but not as bad as the bss. Finished with walking lunges, the left erector still firing even with abs braced and mind focused on my glutes.

Also did some empty ATG squats for about 20 reps, left side does more work. Same with the walking lunges, my left leg gets more of a pump and burns out faster than my right.

try working a lacrosse ball up into the piriformis on your left side. In fact, while you’re at it you might as well do the right side too.

it’s gonna hurt…

I’ll give it a shot. I’ve got a tennis ball on hand so I’ll start with that. I’ve done it before but not on a consistent basis.

The tennis ball to my piriformis 2-3 times a day seems to be helping + a bit of Magnificent Mobility and stretching + frequent glute and ab activation. We’ll see how this plays out 3 weeks from now. Thanks again.

Quadratus laborum, I believe it is called. Perhaps some ART on that sucker would help. Did for me!

Lax ball and baseball are handy too. Softball and golf ball are optional, also useful when “size matters”.

One of my spinal erectors is more active in bilateral movements than the other. I isolate the weak side by twisting on a cable station to the weak side.

is hip farther forward than the other? or are the balanced?

[quote]darkhorse1-1 wrote:
is hip farther forward than the other? or are the balanced?[/quote]

They were out of balance but my physical therapist brought them back into alignment.

As far as bilateral movements, my left does like to do more but I find a good mind muscle connection to the right side gets that to fire some more. Still a bit tricky though.

I’ve never been able to make mind/muscle to work for shit.

Sorry for the bump, but am wondering if you fixed this and how.