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Lower back pain? Your IT band could be to blame!

runner stretching to relieve lower back ache

Lower back discomfort can be debilitating. Many Americans are sedentary, sitting at desks all day long. Others are very active, training for a race or sticking with an intense workout schedule and don’t always make the time to stretch after vigorously using their muscles.

Just ask any professional athlete: agility and flexibility are essential to avoid injury. I had trained and played varsity sports in high school and college but it wasn't until I worked with a trainer in my adult life that I truly learned the “art of the stretch”. 

When I lived in Bucks County, PA just north of Philadelphia, I trained with a former Denver Bronco NFL athlete Vaughn Hebron. His workouts were intense, to say the very least. They began with a warm up and ended up with a 10-15 minute group stretch that was non-negotiable, and this 10-15 minute habit completely changed the course of my lower back discomfort!

Did you know...

The origin of lower back ache often comes from the IT Band and the glutes. The IT Band, also known as the iliotibial band, runs along the outside of the thigh. The IT band connects the iliac crest, which is part of the pelvic-hip complex to the outside of the knee.

The IT band typically tightens from injury, overuse, or exercising without stretching. And while the knee is the most common place people think of when they hear the words “tight IT Band,” the low back is just as common an area to be affected.

This is because muscles work in combination to facilitate the body's movement by pulling on the bone. Anything in our body that is out of alignment or tight can cause a pattern somewhere else in the body, changing proper function and resulting in aches and overall discomfort. 

Tension in the IT Band, or gluteus, in particular has tremendous impact on the lower region of the back. 

Try these steps to determine whether or not the IT Band is the culprit for your lower back pain:

  • Test the flexibility of the hip flexors and the muscles of the quads to determine whether these muscles contribute to the lower back pain. 
  • The IT Band often contributes to tightness in the gluteus medius. Tightness in this muscle creates tension within the rest of the gluteus muscles. 
  • Th Quadratus Lumborum has several attachments into the spine. Perform a light and smooth stretch in order to allow the muscle to relax.
  • Stretching can result in relief in the lower back and possible ease in walking.

Lower back pain affects so many people – yet every body is unique. Treating the whole person and the individual’s body is key to finding the source of the discomfort and finding the path to relief and recovery.

This all goes to prove that sometimes the source of your ache isn't where you think it will be. If you use the Signal Relief patch for relief from lower back pain, you might want to consider placing the patch on your IT band! 

does signal relief work for back pain

Written by: DrBeth DuPree, M.D., FACS, ABOIM. Dr. DuPree is a Fellow of the American College of Surgeons and is board certified in Surgery as well as Integrative Medicine. She is the recipient of numerous awards and achievements, including Philadelphia Magazine’s 2016 and 2017 TOP DOCS in Surgery and Complementary Medicine and the 2020 Physician of the Year award for Verde Valley Medical Center. In addition to serving as Medical Director for Signal Relief, Dr. DuPree is a published author, a Reiki Master, international physician educator, inspirational speaker, and founder of The Healing Consciousness Foundation where she provides healing and integrative services free of charge to women and men on their breast cancer journey.


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