Low Back Pain

Common Questions About Low Back Pain

  • How can massage therapy help me with my low back pain?
  • What specific bones or muscles are causing my low back pain?
  • What can I do to avoid hurting my back in the future?

Muscles Involved


Quadratus Lumborum

Erector Spinae muscle group

Illiocostalis Lumborum

Internal and External Obliques


Gluteal muscle group

Common Causes for Back Pain

Tension in the illiopsoas and secondary hip flexor muscles. (see pictures below):

There are many different variables that can contribute to back pain. In my practice I have learned that the hip flexor muscles are a very popular source for low back pain. The hip flexor muscles allow us to bend at the waist and assume a seated position.

Picture a muscle running from the lumbar spine to the front of the upper thigh. After a long period of time in a flexed or “seated” position, the psoas muscle can sometimes get “glued” in place by collagen and other myofascial connective tissues; making it more difficult to stand up straight without getting pain in the low back, or in the upper thigh.

A severe case of an impinged or tense psoas muscle could likely place someone in a walker or a behind a cane. Desk workers, hikers, cyclists, truck drivers, and couch testers are all more likely to experience iliopsoas related pain.

If laying on your stomach gives you a tense sensation in your low back, or if standing up after sitting down for a while results in pain, you may need to seek out treatment options to remobilize your hip flexors.

The psoas muscle originates from the thoracic vertebra “T12” and down through the lumbar vertebra “L5”, as it then inserts at the lesser tubercle of the femur. In many cases with herniated or bulging disks, the psoas muscle can pull on the lumbar vertebra that may be involved in the herniation.

I see a number of clients who have already had low back surgery, and have not had any physical therapy to rehabilitate their bodies.

Ask your doctor about massage therapy for treatment. A neuromuscular massage therapist has the understanding of where these muscle or nerve impingements occur, as well as the ability to target and manipulate these tissues in order to restore their functionality.

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Pain from Tension in the Quadratus Lumborum, Erector Spinae muscles, and scoliosis

A combination of habits like leaning towards the left or right while sitting down, sleeping on the same side every night while sinking your hips into an old mattress, or shifting your weight to one leg or the other while standing still, can cause the pelvis to have a lateral tilt.

Also known as an elevated hip, a tilted pelvis can give the spine a scoliosis curve, or change the posture of the body in which one leg may seem longer than the other.

If the muscles of the lumbar, sacral, and pelvic regions are over or under-worked, the pelvis can also tilt forwards and backwards (anterior and posterior pelvic tilt):anterior-posterior

By releasing tension in these muscles, massage therapy can restore poor posture and limited range of motion in the pelvis and the low back, as well as reduce pain and discomfort.

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Gluteus minimus, medius, and maximus:

Trigger points in the gluteal muscles can also trigger low back pain. The glutes are the largest and most powerful muscles in the body. We are either using them more than we should be, or we are spending to much time sitting on them. While having tight glutes may seem desirable to some people, they can also cause low back pain.

Click the menu button at the top right corner of this page, or scroll down to the bottom of the page to read more about how massage therapy can help with other muscular conditions.

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