Lumbago relief – Your self-treatment

Lumbago usually occurs suddenly and leads to severe back pain in the lumbar region.

Quite often you can hardly move and are dependent on outside help.

Fortunately, there are things that you can do to alleviate the pain. Why and how?

Most lumbago is triggered by tenseness and trigger points in the muscles of the back and buttocks.

This tenseness adds to already heightened muscle tension.

Sometimes it only takes a wrong move to push it over the edge.

But there is good news. With a simple muscle manipulation, you can usually relieve the pain immediately and move fairly normally again.

What should I expect on this page?

First I will show you what to do immediately in case of lumbago to be able to regain some movement.

Then, I will guide you step by step through a self-massage of the other muscles that are potentially responsible for lumbago.

Of course, you can also use this page to alleviate and eliminate “regular” lower back pain.

Synonyms of lumbago: Sudden back pain, acute lower back pain

1. Lumbago: Immediate help, so you can get going again!

One of the main problems of acute lumbago, in addition to the pain, is the inability to move.

This dilemma is often caused by your quadratus lumborum. This is one of your back muscles, which when tense can lead to severe restrictions on movement.

Pressing your hands into the muscle will usually allow you to move immediately and at least get from point A to point B.

Simply put, your quadratus lumborum muscle runs from your hip over your lumbar spine to your lowest rib.

There are two areas I recommend here, in which you manipulate the muscles.

Be sure to experiment with other positions and find the most effective location for you.

  • To be able to move again, press into the muscle and take a few slow steps. Make sure to take it slow.
  • Go through each of the positions shown below and lean forward and to the side. Only go as far as the pain allows you. And please don’t overdo it! You are in a very “delicate” state.
  • Do these exercises – walk, bend forward, bend to the side – a few minutes and work your muscles in this way.

Self-massage of the upper fibres of the quadratus lumborum

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Pressure from behind on the muscle.

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Pressure from the side on the muscle.

Sometimes lumbago disappears almost completely thanks to these exercises and you will be able to move fairly normal.

If this is your case, you will be thrilled. I still recommend that you take care of yourself a few days, walk a lot on flat surfaces and do the massage described below.

Although your pain has almost disappeared, the muscle is far from “healthy” and relaxed.

Even if you are free of pain, it will still take a few weeks and self-massages until your muscles return to a normal tension level, which has not been the case for years or even decades.

I urge you to do the self-massage and to practice doing it to get better at it. Of course, it will take time and patience, but your back pain and well-being are now literally in your hands.

Keep moving. Your muscles will benefit from the increased blood flow!

2. Lumbago treatment: Your self-massage

For the self-massage, you will need a massage ball and preferably also the Body Back Buddy.

Although the latter is not essential, it is very useful, because it allows you to work on your back very precisely.

It is not cheap, but serves well!

As already mentioned, there are usually trigger points and tensions in the muscles of your back and buttocks, which leads to lumbago.

If you do nothing; they will persist for years and keep causing problems.

With a self-massage however, you can “knead” the trigger points out of your muscles and normalise muscle tension.

The reason for this is that by directly applying pressure to your muscles you can “get in touch” with your nervous system and point out this tense area.

As a result, it will reduce the tension in the area concerned, because the nervous system is, among other things, the muscle tension control station.

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2.1 Self-massage of your back

Muscles: Erector spinae, quadratus lumborum

Here you will massage the entire lumbar region and the area of transition to your sacrum.

You can reach all of these areas with a massage ball.

With a massage stick you can only reach the lower to the upper lumbar region, however, it will allow you to be much more precise and effective than with a ball.

Below I’ve described both, the massage with a ball as well as with a stick.

Before getting started, here is some helpful information:

  • Always pay full attention to the most painful spots in a muscle
  • Keep the massage pressure moderate. On a pain scale of 1 – 10, you should oscillate between 4 and 7.
  • If you are not able to “massage over” a spot, because it is too painful, then simply apply pressure to it for 20 – 30 seconds, without moving, and wait until the pain subsides somewhat. If it does not, or if it amplifies, then you are pressing too hard.

Massaging with a stick to alleviate your lumbago

  • Lie down on the floor and put your legs up.
  • Take your wand and press with the “bump” just below your 12th rib in the back.
  • Look for painful spots in the muscles located there.
  • Experiment with the direction the pressure is applied from.
  • You can usually find the most sensitive spots if you are applying pressure from the side, i.e. in the direction of your spine.
  • But try to apply pressure from the bottom in the back in the direction of the abdomen as well.
  • Experiment with lots of different combinations here.

Once you come to a painful spot, you have two options.

  • 1. Massage it by moving the end of the wand and thus the bump on the painful spot.
  • 2. If 1. hurts too much, then press into the muscle until you reach a “supportable” level of pain and keep applying pressure for another 20 – 30 seconds.
  • The pain should subside during this time. If it does not, so you might be pressing too hard!

Proceed this way in the entire lumbar area in order to alleviate your lumbago.

The image shows an example of the wand position. Of course, the massage itself is done while lying down as described above.

Massage with a ball to alleviate your lumbago

Needless to say, you can also roll over the ball to give yourself a massage. However, this is not as convenient as using the wand.

  • Lie down on the floor and place the ball under your back in the area of the quadratus lumborum.
  • Massage your entire lumbar region with the ball, including the area of transition to your sacrum.

2.2 Self-massage of your buttocks

Muscles: Gluteus maximus, gluteus medius

These two muscles are part of your buttocks. They connect your thigh to your hip and should be included in every lumbago treatment.

Tension and trigger points in these muscles interfere with the muscular and connective tissue stress ratios at your hip and in the lumbar region.

Often, a definitive and successful lumbago treatment is only possible if these muscles are relaxed and, any trigger points present are eliminated.

A massage ball is the best choice in this case.

Whether you use rolling movements or simply apply static pressure on a single spot for approximately 20 – 30 seconds depends on what gives you the best results.

Lie down on the floor and put your legs up.

Place a ball under your buttocks and search the entire area for painful spots.

Then, massage each of these spots a maximum of 15 times using rolling movements or apply pressure to the spot for 20 – 30 seconds.

To massage the upper portion of your buttocks and the gluteus medius located there, you will have to roll on the side a bit.

For the gluteus maximus place the ball in the lower half of your buttocks, and right under your iliac crest.

Examples of proper massage positions

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Self-massage of the gluteus maximus

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Self-massage of the gluteus medius

3. Lumbago: duration

In general, the first two days of lumbago are the worst.

The pain will have almost completely disappeared within three to four days, and you can more or less move somewhat normally.

Minor limitations when bending forward or to the side and a sensation of tension in the loins and sacrum area usually continues for another 1 – 2 weeks.

However, your recovery will be accelerated with the following supporting measures.

4. Supportive measures

Keep moving:

This is especially important in the first few days.

Due to the excessive tension in the muscles, the circulation to your lower back is limited and very often your sacroiliac joint is blocked.

Movement allows you to counter this effect.

Once you sit or lie down, the tension and pain often get worse again.

When you move, press into your strained back muscles regularly, as described previously.

Avoid sitting if possible:

Sitting puts pressure on the muscles of the buttocks. For most people with lumbago, these muscles are already tense and sitting will only add to that unnecessarily.

This does not foster healing.

Heat your back muscles…

…Use an infrared lamp or take a warm, almost hot shower. A heat treatment often relieves your lumbago pain because it relaxes your muscles.

And make sure not to sit, stand instead.

5. Lumbago: Symptoms

  • Sudden onset of pain comes after a common everyday movement in most cases – such as bending over.
  • Very sharp pain during movement, which makes walking normally impossible. Here again, let me refer you to my quick fix.
  • Disrupted sleep at night due to “pain attacks”.
  • Pain in the SIJ or sacroiliac joint when bending and sitting.

6. Lumbago: Causes

As with all pain of muscular origin, an overload on the muscular system is often involved.

Please keep in mind that overloading should be seen as relative.

This means that something that overworks the muscles of person A, might be no problem at all for Person B.

Here, in particular, factors such as physical condition, diet, and psychological stress play a major role.

However, I can only allude to this at this point, since a detailed explanation is beyond the scope of this single page.

Below I have listed some circumstances and activities that may put excessive strain on your buttocks and back muscles and are potential causes of your lumbago.

The most common triggering factors are

  • Bending forward while simultaneously rotating the upper body
  • Lifting heavy weights
  • Getting up after prolonged sitting – for example, after driving or working in an office
  • Psychological stress – reluctance, inner turmoil

Supporting factors

  • Lots of sitting and untrained muscles
  • Lots of sitting
  • Bending forward while simultaneously rotating the upper body
  • Frequently climbing up stairs and walking uphill
  • Psychological stress
  • Unbalanced strength training
  • Excessive jogging or mountain climbing – especially if you are not used to it
  • Etc.