Before we get into the information you need to know about pelvic stability and its relation to back pain, let’s do a little experiment first.
Take off your shoes and walk around the room for a moment, as you normally would. Don’t attempt to stand taller than you usually do and don’t take steps more carefully than you do on a regular basis. Ok?
How does it feel? Initially it feels different, allowing you to feel every little thing in each step. But if you continue to walk around this way for several minutes you notice that your body has easily grown accustomed to walking this way, and in fact will adjust to accommodate this new style of walking.
Now have a seat and put your shoes back on and walk around a little more. How does it feel? Walk around again for several minutes and then gauge your body’s reactions and adjustments.
What was the purpose of this little exercise, you ask?
The purpose was to allow you to see how much stress your back and hips will feel if you have an imbalanced pelvis. Often when lower back pain arises without a direct trauma or injury to point to as a cause, we shrug it off and wait for the pain to dissipate. It can be something you’d hardly consider such as pelvic instability, particularly lumbar-pelvic instability.
This type of instability occurs when the structures supporting the torso are unable to maintain the optimum position of the spine and the pelvic girdle. An instable pelvis can change the gait of your walk, placing unnecessary pressure on your lower back.
How does the pelvis become unstable? For many women this can occur during pregnancy as the body is constantly adjusting to the weight gain. However a simple accident can cause this type of instability which leads to back pain.
Unfortunately the adjustments the body makes–remember the walking exercise?–can exacerbate the pain. The more your body compensates for the pain during regular activities like walking, the more the pain can increase. This pelvic instability can cause a muscle imbalance, which further serves to worsen the back pain.
It isn’t just a muscle imbalance that pelvic instability can cause; sciatica is a real possibility as well. Instability in the pelvic region can place pressure on the sciatic nerve, which runs down the length of the body from the lower back down to the legs.
Since the pelvis and spine work together to produce basic human movements, you can imagine the importance of receiving a proper diagnosis and treatment for this pain. Without proper treatment, this problem is unlikely to go away on its own.
For women suffering pelvic instability due to pregnancy, this pain can mostly dissipate with childbirth but will still require physical therapy to reduce pain and balance the muscles. For others suffering from this problem, muscle balance therapy is the recommended treatment.
Targeted exercises that strengthen the weakened muscles such as yoga, swimming, Pilates, stretching and strength training exercises are an integral part of balancing the muscle and re-stabilizing the pelvic joints and muscles. Exercises that strengthen the back muscles but also focus on the lower abdominal muscles are vital to treatment as a weak core can exacerbate existing back problems. A
In addition to muscle balance therapy, your physician or physical therapist may recommend a combination of exercises & stretching, massage therapy or a chiropractic treatment.
Other things you can do to reduce pain associated with pelvic instability include;
- Avoid wearing stilettos and high heels.
- Wear comfortable shoes with a proper insole and arch support.
- Rest with the feet propped up to relieve stress from the pelvis.
- Maintain proper posture when sitting or standing.
- Lift with your legs rather than your back.
A stronger pelvic region is less likely to become unstable, which reduces your risk of other back-related problems and pain. Read my next article to learn more about the benefits of muscle balance therapy.