Flat back syndrome is a term used to describe lack of curvature in the low back. Sometimes people are told that flat back syndrome is the reason for their chronic low back pain. Having a flat back is a symptom of low back pain but not a cause. A healthy low back does have natural curvature. And people lacking lumbar curvature will commonly indicate pain on or near their sacrum. Flatback syndrome involves numerous muscles in the lower body being overly tight. Gaining curvature of the lumbar spine entails lengthening lower body muscles. The psoas muscle, in particular, must be lengthened to bring curvature to the lumbar spine. Active Isolated Stretching (AIS) is highly beneficial for flat back syndrome. Flat back syndrome is associated with spinal stenosis, lumbar disc herniation, disc degeneration, arthritis, and chronic low back pain.
Flat back causes
Tightness in the lower body muscles causes the lumbar region to lose its natural curve. Loss of curvature in the lower spine can be of varying degrees. The lower spine does not need to be completely straight for people to experience low back pain. The psoas, gluteal (buttocks), and hamstring muscles are almost always involved in flat back syndrome. Other muscles are involved, but these three are almost always a causal factor. Athletes will lose flexibility in these muscles through repetitive motion activity. And psoas, glute, and hamstring muscles will become tight from numerous hours of sitting. Frequent flying (airline travel) will further tighten psoas, glutes, and hamstring muscles because people are sitting on planes. And the high altitude compounds tightness to these lower body muscles. Unfortunately, industrialized society requires long hours of sitting to perform our occupations. This is a major reason why low back pain is so prevalent throughout the world.
Laying on a foam roller to correct flat back syndrome
Some therapists incorrectly advise laying and rolling on a foam roller to gain curvature in the lumbar region. Rolling the low back on a foam roller does not cure flat back syndrome. A tightened psoas muscle causes the lumbar spine to flatten. And the psoas cannot be affected by rolling pressure to the low back. The psoas is underneath the belly. And even if you roll the foam roller on your stomach, it will not release the psoas because the muscle is too deep to release by applying rolling pressure of a foam roller.
Massage therapy for flat back syndrome
Some modalities like deep tissue massage, Rolfing, and Active Release Technique claim that their method can open the tightened psoas muscle through their form of manual manipulation. The psoas cannot be opened through massage or manual therapy because there are too many points of attachment to be released through direct pressure. Self-stretching techniques will not open a psoas to optimal length. The psoas must be opened through assisted stretching. Afterwards, self-stretching techniques can help maintain an open psoas. Chiropractic adjustments would be more effective after AIS treatment because chiropractic does not address psoas tightness in their procedure. PNF stretching uses the wrong position for psoas stretching, which can cause herniation to the discs around the L4, L5, S1 region. Active Isolated Stretching is most effective at opening the psoas muscle, which is essential for restoring the natural lumbar curve.
Muscles attach to bones. Tightness in the psoas, hamstrings, and gluteal muscles will put excessive strain on the pelvis and spine. This muscular tightness will pull on the pelvis bone and cause the lower spine to lose its natural curve. Inflammation will result around the spine from muscular tightness which causes spinal stenosis – the narrowing of the spinal canal. Low back discs around L4, L5, S1 will often become strained to the point in which they herniate, bulge, or degenerate. Spinal stenosis and lumbar disc disorders can also be restored with AIS therapy because the cause is excessive muscle inflexibility. A spinal canal can widen when muscular inflammation is ceased. A herniated, slipped, or bulging disc can return inside the vertebral column when muscular pressure is discontinued. Similarly, AIS therapy will cure spinal nerve pain because pinching on spinal nerves is caused by muscular inflammation.
Weakness in the lower body muscles also contributes to flat back syndrome. Rehabilitation from flat back syndrome entails doing lower body strengthening exercises to maintain the natural curve in the low back. After the psoas muscle is lengthened, it needs to be strengthened. Correct abdominal exercises are an important part of rehabilitation. Unfortunately, many people perform abdominal exercises incorrectly which worsen flat back syndrome. For example, full sit-ups are when the hands are interlocked behind the head and the person performs a full ab crunch to the point in which their elbows touch their bent knees. This is the wrong way to practice abdominal exercises! Full sit-ups or full ab-crunches will tighten the psoas muscle, which will decrease curvature of the lumbar spine.
Spinal stenosis, lumbar disc herniation/degeneration, and chronic low back pain will often be linked to flat back syndrome. Flat back syndrome is not the cause of these disorders. Flat back syndrome is an indicator of tightened lower body muscles. Active Isolated Stretching can reverse flat back syndrome because the first course of treatment is to restore flexibility. Conventional stretching, PNF stretching, yoga, and Thai massage have failed to grasp key mistakes they are making in their procedure. Active Isolated Stretching can restore lumbar curvature while other forms of stretching cannot. One-to-one AIS treatment is the kick start to gaining curvature in the lumbar spine. At-home AIS exercises are what maintain correct posture.