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Lower Back Pain: Movement, Imbalances & Physiotherapy

Posted by Dr. Scott Wilson | 15-Mar-2024

Lower back pain is a common health concern that affects people of all ages and backgrounds. The experience can range from mild discomfort to chronic pain, and can greatly impact a person’s quality of life. While there are a number of potential causes, movement dysfunctions and muscular imbalances are among the more common structural causes. In this article, we’ll examine movement dysfunctions and muscular imbalances and how they contribute to lower back pain. We’ll also look at how to identify movement dysfunctions and muscular imbalances and the role that physiotherapy can play in treating and managing related lower back pain. By understanding the causes and treatment options for movement dysfunction and muscular imbalance related lower back pain, you’ll be in a better position to take proactive steps to alleviate your symptoms and improve your overall well-being.

Understanding Lower Back Pain

Lower back pain, also known as low back pain, is a common condition that affects the spinal column, specifically the area between the bottom of the rib cage and the pelvis. While it can manifest in a variety of ways, depending on the cause and severity of the condition, common symptoms include chronic pain or aching in the lower back, which may radiate to the hips, buttocks, or down the legs. In some cases, it can cause numbness or tingling sensations in the lower body, while others it can lead to muscle stiffness and limited mobility. It’s important to note that symptoms and their intensity can vary from person to person, and can fluctuate throughout the day.

What Causes Lower Back Pain?

Potential lower back pain causes range from lifestyle factors to underlying medical conditions. Lifestyle factors include a sedentary lifestyle, obesity, smoking and, heavy lifting. Medical conditions include movement dysfunctions and muscular imbalances, muscle strains, ligament sprains, herniated discs, degenerative disc disease, and arthritis, among other conditions.

Movement Dysfunction and Lower Back Pain

Movement dysfunction refers to the impaired ability to perform physical movements properly and efficiently. It can contribute to lower back pain by placing excessive strain on your spinal column and the surrounding muscles, ligaments, and tissues. Incorrect movement mechanics, such as lifting heavy objects with a rounded back or sitting with poor posture, can disrupt the natural alignment of your spine, leading to muscle imbalances and increased stress on your spinal structures. Over time, this can result in chronic pain and discomfort. Additionally, movement dysfunction can affect muscle tone, leading to imbalances between the muscles that support your spine. These imbalances can further contribute to pain and limited mobility. The negative impact of movement dysfunction on your daily life cannot be overstated. It can interfere with your activities of daily living, your work, and your recreational pursuits.

This can have a negative impact on the individual’s quality of life, as it can limit their ability to perform normal activities and participate in daily routines.

Identifying Movement Dysfunctions

Identifying movement dysfunctions is a crucial step in addressing lower back pain and optimizing your movement patterns. Here are some ways to become more self-aware of your movement habits:

  • Pay attention to how you sit, stand, and move throughout the day, both at work and during leisure activities.
  • Observe any patterns of pain, stiffness, or discomfort during certain movements or positions.
  • Consider your risk factors for low back pain (e.g., heavy lifting, prolonged sitting, or activities that involve repetitive movements).
  • Consult a physiotherapist, or other healthcare professional, to assess your movement patterns and identify any dysfunctions or imbalances and to identify ways to modify everyday activities and reduce your risk of low back pain.

Muscular Imbalances and Lower Back Pain

Muscular imbalances in the back and the surrounding muscles can play a significant role in the development and persistence of back pain, particularly in the lower back, by altering the normal alignment and functioning of your spine. Imbalances between the muscles of your upper body, such as your chest, abdominal core and back muscles, can lead to an imbalance in muscle tone and function. It can cause your shoulders to roll forward, leading to a rounded back posture. These postural deviations can put additional stress on your spinal column, leading to chronic back pain. By addressing the muscular imbalances through targeted exercises and physical therapy, you can correct the muscle imbalances, improve your posture, and alleviate your back pain.

Recognizing Muscular Imbalances

Recognizing muscular imbalances can aid in the prevention and management of lower back pain. Here are some ways to recognize muscle imbalances:

  • Observe any pain, discomfort, or stiffness in your back, pelvis, or hips, which may indicate muscle imbalances.
  • Assess muscle strength and flexibility imbalances by comparing the strength and range of motion of different muscle groups.
  • Seek the assistance of a physical therapist or other healthcare professional to perform a thorough assessment and identify specific muscle imbalances.
  • Engage in exercises and activities that target weak muscles and stretch tight muscles to restore muscle balance.
  • Consider any underlying health conditions, such as osteoporosis or arthritis, as these conditions may contribute to muscle imbalances and back pain.

Physiotherapy for Lower Back Pain

Physiotherapy plays a vital role in the treatment of lower back pain, particularly when it comes to improving pain management and enhancing your overall quality of life. Physiotherapists, specialized healthcare professionals, utilize various techniques to address back pain, including manual therapy, exercise prescription, and education on pain management strategies. By working collaboratively with patients, physiotherapists help develop personalized treatment plans that may include individualized exercises, lifestyle modifications, and the use of adjunctive therapies, such as acupuncture or spinal manipulation. They can also provide guidance on the proper use of over-the-counter pain relievers or topical pain creams to help manage your symptoms and improve your quality of life.

Physiotherapy Techniques for Back Pain Relief

Physiotherapists employ various techniques to provide back pain relief and improve your overall mobility and ability to function, including:

  • Manual Therapy: This includes hands-on techniques, such as joint mobilization, soft tissue manipulation, and spinal manipulation for relieving pain, reducing muscle tension, and improving joint mobility.
  • Therapeutic Exercises: Specific exercises can target weak muscles, improve muscle tone, enhance flexibility, and promote overall back health.
  • Therapeutic Modalities: Adjunctive therapies, such as acupuncture, low-level laser therapy, or electrical stimulation, are often used to reduce pain, inflammation, and promote blood flow to affected areas.
  • Education and Self-Management Strategies: This includes guidance on proper body mechanics, posture, and ergonomics, as well as lifestyle modifications to help you manage your condition effectively and prevent future episodes.

Physiotherapy Exercises for Movement Dysfunction

Physiotherapy exercises are an essential component of addressing movement dysfunction and improving overall back health. These exercises focus on correcting movement patterns, strengthening muscles that support your spine, and improving overall flexibility and mobility. By targeting movement dysfunctions, you can improve your posture, reduce your risk of injury, and enhance your overall quality of life. Your physiotherapist can also teach specific exercises that target your unique movement dysfunctions and address the underlying causes of your back pain.

Strengthening Exercises

These exercises play a vital role in managing lower back pain by targeting the muscles that support your spine, including your core muscles and your back muscles. Strengthening your core muscles, which include the abdominal muscles, back muscles, and pelvis stabilizers, helps improve your stability and spinal alignment. Examples may include plank variations, bridges, back extensions, or specific back muscle-targeted exercises.

Flexibility Exercises

Flexibility exercises are crucial for addressing lower back pain and improving your overall spinal mobility. They help reduce muscle tension, increase the range of motion in your spine, and promote better overall flexibility. Stretching exercises that target the muscles of the lower back, hips, and hamstrings, include the cat-cow stretch, knee-to-chest stretch, and child’s pose. Flexibility training, in conjunction with strengthening exercises, can improve your spinal mobility, reduce muscle stiffness, and enhance your back health.

Physiotherapy for Correcting Muscular Imbalances

Physiotherapy plays a critical role in correcting muscular imbalances, which is essential for managing low back pain and promoting overall back health. Through targeted exercises and therapies, physiotherapists can address underlying muscle imbalances that contribute to your pain and movement dysfunction. By balancing muscle strength, optimizing muscle tone, and improving overall muscle function, physiotherapy helps restore proper spinal alignment, stability, and function. This, in turn, supports healthy movement patterns, and prevents recurrence.

Balance and Stability Exercises

Balance and stability exercises aim to improve your core stability, enhance you postural control, and reduce your risk of falls and injuries. By targeting the muscles of your core, pelvis, and lower back, these exercises help improve your spinal alignment, proprioception, and muscle coordination. Examples of balance and stability exercises include single-leg standing, heel-to-toe walks, or exercises utilizing stability balls or balance boards.

Posture Correction

Poor posture, such as slouching or excessive curvature of the spine, can contribute to muscle imbalances, spinal misalignments, and chronic back pain. Targeted exercises, therapeutic interventions, and education on ergonomic principles can help to correct your posture, reduce strain on your back, and improve your overall spinal alignment.


Understanding the intricate relationship between movement dysfunction, muscular imbalances, and lower back pain is crucial for effective treatment. Physiotherapy offers tailored solutions to address these issues, providing relief and promoting long-term recovery. By incorporating targeted exercises and techniques, physiotherapy can significantly improve your movement functionality and correct imbalances, ultimately alleviating your lower back pain.

If you’re struggling with lower back pain, we can help. Contact us today and let us show you why, at Physiomed…Healthier Starts Here.

Frequently Asked Questions About Dysfunction, Imbalances and Physiotherapy:

Q1. When Should I Consult a Physiotherapist?

You should consult a physiotherapist when experiencing persistent lower back pain that compromises your daily activities, quality of life, and overall well-being. While more mild conditions can often resolve on its own with rest and conservative measures, acute or chronic back pain, especially when it persists for more than three months, requires professional attention. Additionally, if you’ve been in a car accident or had a traumatic event that causes back pain, you should also consult with a physiotherapist as prompt intervention can help prevent the development of a chronic condition or long-term complications. Physiotherapists specialize in the treatment of musculoskeletal conditions, including back pain. They can perform a physical examination, assess your condition, and develop personalized treatment plans, and provide targeted interventions to alleviate pain, improve mobility, and enhance overall back health.

Q2. Can Physiotherapy Exercises Provide Long Term Relief?

Physiotherapy exercises, along with lifestyle modifications, can provide long-term relief from lower back pain. Regular engagement in physiotherapy exercises helps improve muscle tone, enhances spinal stability, and promotes overall back health. By addressing the underlying causes, such as movement dysfunctions or muscle imbalances, physiotherapy exercises can provide long-term pain management and improved quality of life. Maintaining a healthy weight, engaging in regular physical activity, and avoiding a sedentary lifestyle can also help prevent a recurrence. Additionally, integrating physiotherapy exercises into your daily routine can support back health, reduce your risk of future injuries, and provide sustainable strategies for managing your lower back pain.

Q3. What Specific Stretches or Exercises Help Alleviate Lower Back Pain?

Specific stretches and exercises that can help alleviate lower back pain and improve movement dysfunction include:

  • Pelvic Tilts: Lie on your back with knees bent, and gently rock your pelvis back and forth.
  • Knee-to-Chest Stretches: Lie on your back, bring one knee to your chest, and hold for a few seconds. Repeat with the other knee.
  • Cat-Cow Stretches: On hands and knees, alternate between rounding your back upward like a cat, and arching your back downward like a cow.
  • Strengthening exercises for the core muscles, such as plank variations, bridges, or abdominal crunches, can also help.


Dr. Scott Wilson

Dr. Scott Wilson is the Founder & Chairman of Physiomed; one of Canada’s largest franchised networks of inter-disciplinary healthcare clinics. A graduate of Canadian Memorial Chiropractic College, Dr. Wilson founded Physiomed in 1994 and has since grown Physiomed to over 30 clinics in Southern Ontario and British Columbia. With hundreds of practitioners from over a dozen disciplines, Dr. Wilson and Physiomed have helped over 100,000 Canadians with physiotherapy, chiropractic, massage therapy, orthotic therapy, compression therapy and clinical conditioning as part of a program of rehabilitation and health optimization. In addition to helping patients improve their physical and mental well-being, Dr. Wilson has also mentored hundreds of practitioners to provide better care while enjoying more fulfilling careers. He is also a keynote speaker on many health related topics including how physiotherapy, chiropractic and health & wellness treatment can help with stress, weight loss, and unlocking the true potential within to achieve lasting physical well-being.

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