This month’s topic will be one of the most important for many readers.
A remarkable number of people are familiar with a joint that you really have no business knowing about unless you’re an anatomy professor.
It’s not like your elbow or knee or wrist that you willingly use every day. In fact, it barely even moves at all, but rather wiggles a little when you walk in a tiny figure 8 pattern that is virtually undetectable to all but the trained professional’s eye.
It’s called your Sacroiliac Joint or SI joint, and if you put your hands on your hips backwards, your fingers would pretty much be right on top of the joint (as shown in green on our 4 yo model to the left). Not exactly one of the “head, shoulders, knees, and toes” parts of the body we refer to on a regular basis.
So why in the world would anyone have even heard of this joint, outside of anatomy class?
The reason it’s far more familiar than it should be is because when you injure this joint, it is so painful it often drops you right to the floor. It is described as “one-sided low back pain that feels like you’ve been shot in the back and have to hold on to anything around you just to remain somewhat upright.”
The disabling pain covers pretty much right where the hand is in the picture of our little friend. When it happens, you have no choice but to lie in bed until it heals enough to stand again. This joint alone is responsible for an enormous number of visits to the chiropractor, which is where many of us have learned or relearned of its name.
But wait, isn’t this e-Newsletter about muscles, not joints?
Well, first the key to a healthy joint is healthy strong flexible muscles that attach to it, move it and support it. Remember this physiology fact: Muscles are the first line of defense for any joint.
It just so happens that the SI Joint is often not hurt due to trauma, but rather to myfascial dysfunction of a big rectangular muscle in the low back called the Quadratus Lumborum (QL), which literally translates to “rectangular low back muscle”.
Here is what it looks like in the drawing to the left (highlighted in green), from the instructive handbook, Trigger Point Therapy for Low Back Pain by Sharon Sauer, CMTPT, LMT and Mary Biancalana, CMTPT, LMT, two leaders in the Trigger Point Therapy field.
The red dots indicate the referred pain pattern of the trigger points found in the deep and superficial fibers of the QL near the X’s in the drawing. Look where the referred pain is located … RIGHT OVER THE SI JOINT. It turns out that many times the “Shot in the Back” pain is actually referred pain from trigger points in the QL!
It cannot be stressed enough how painful it is and how disabled one becomes when these trigger points are activated. Many have wondered if they will be crippled the rest of their lives when they first experience this pain.
So, here again we find that a muscle turns out to be the key to one of the most severe ailments the average person can experience. The QL is important not only in keeping the SI joint healthy and supported, but it is also responsible for the dreaded one-sided “shot in the back pain” that cripples its victims.
As always, it is never necessary to suffer something like suddenly collapsing to floor in agony when picking up a pencil you dropped. You can prevent injury to your SI joint and the disabling low back pain just by keeping your QL healthy!
It’s easy to do, as you will see below. And it feels good to treat the QL, as you’ll soon find out. The only real downside is that you’ll have one less excuse to take a sick day from work!
That said, let’s now take a look at some tests and self-care techniques for your Quadratus Lumborum.
*The information in this article is not intended to diagnose or treat any medical condition and does not substitute for a thorough evaluation by a medical professional. Please consult your physician to determine whether these self-care tips are appropriate for you.