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Low Back Tightness

You perform heavy deadlifts, heavy squats, or high rep pulling motions.  They feel great while you are doing it, but then later that day or the next day the pain and tightness appears.  It feels on fire every time you bend down, squat, or lift from the floor.

You roll out with a foam roller.  You smash with a lacrosse ball.  You stretch.  You ice.  You do everything possible you can do, but the pain and tightness remain.

Sound familiar to something you have gone through?  Or maybe you are going through it now.

If you have been doing CrossFit or lifting heavy things for any period of time, most likely you have experienced that scenario at least once in your life.

I know I certainly have.  We all do at one time or another.

The questions that come to your head…What do I do about it?  Why won’t it go away?  How do I get it to go away?

Simple answer.  You can’t!  Well…at least not on your own.  You have already tried that and it didn’t work.

Sometimes a massage will do it.  Sometimes not…

A number of possibilities exist for why this happens.  The common two I see are: 1) tightness in the muscles along the spine, and/or 2) an asymmetry in the pelvis or sacrum.

Tightness in muscles along the spine

Even if lifting properly, when you deadlift (especially heavy weight or high reps), your spinal musculature is required to stabilize your spine.  At times, this causes increased fatigue and results in tightness in the muscles.  Most times this is not an issue, but at times it causes things to flare up.

And then we get into improper lifting, meaning using our back to lift instead of our glutes/hips.  The muscles in the back are significantly smaller than the glutes, and therefore do not stand up to heavy loads as well.  With heavy weight or high reps, the back muscles will tighten up due to the work you are requiring them to do.

When these muscles are overly tight and flared up, the tightness will often not resolve on its own.  The foam roller, lacrosse ball, and stretching aren’t aggressive enough to resolve the issues.

Asymmetry in pelvis or sacrum

Ideally, our pelvis and sacrum (the triangle bone at the bottom of your spine) are symmetrical.  Sometimes, things happen that cause the pelvis to become rotated a bit or the sacrum to move incorrectly.  A number of reasons exist for why this happens.  When it comes to lifting, it can be caused by us shifting weight to one side more, either consciously or subconsciously.  The shift causes an imbalance in our muscle firing, resulting in a stronger pull on one side and a shift in the pelvis.

When this happens, the body must compensate for it.  Over time, the compensations cause pain.  The pain may be immediate, or it may come on over time.  That all depends on how the body wants to respond.  Either way, unless you do something to reposition the pelvis, the pain will likely continue to be present.


Next time you deal with a situation like this, get it addressed sooner rather than later.  Most often, it can be cleared up quickly by a physical therapist.  The sooner you get it taken care of, the sooner you can get back to crushing workouts!

Have more questions about this?  Email to ask them!


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