Is The Cause of Your Lower Back Pain Your Wallet? Part 2

Three solutions to help reduce lower back pain.

Front pocket wallets, iPhones and cell phones placed in the back pocket of your pants can cause problems with your lower back.

How? Sitting on a thick or even thin wallets for long periods of time can cause an un-leveling in your low back. This un-leveling is called a functional imbalance. And if left for a log enough period of time can cause structural problems elsewhere in the spine, hips, knees and ankles.

Now before you defend the continued placement of your wallet, keep in mind that many problems take years to develop and may take some time to correct. Rarely, is just the wallet the one cause to a persons problem. So, if you started today with taking your wallet out of your back pocket when you sit, do not expect your low back pain to magically disappear, this is not what I am saying.

eHolster.com asked me to pen this blog series to help their customers better understand the relationship between wallets and low back pain.

In the previous post we spoke about the bones in relationship to the nerves. In this post I would like to talk about the muscles in relationship to the bones. As well as some exercises you can use to strengthen those low back muscles.

Look at the blog post: Is The Cause of Your Lower Back Pain Your Wallet? Part 1: This offers an explanation of the basic anatomy of the low back as well as how the nerves relate to the bones. The picture below shows us the deepest muscles of the low back:


What is important to understand is the large number of muscles that attach to the bones in and around your low back and pelvis. The deep muscles tend to be smaller and over time can grow shorter or longer depending on the position of the bones they attach to. If you leave a wallet in your back pocket, in time, it can shift your pelvis. When the pelvis is shifted the muscle length is changed. A chronic “short” muscle can affect how the entire pelvis moves. Even if the alignment is off “a little”, the misalignment can cause the joints in that area to wear out. This wearing out process includes plenty of pain and inflammation.

Arranging the wallet in your back pocket may feel more comfortable. However, it can still shift that side of your pelvis, acting as an artificial wedge in the low back. The artificially induced shortening and lengthening of the deep and intermediate muscles can also affect the larger “prime mover” muscles responsible for walking.

The picture below shows the hamstring muscle, the only muscle in the body that crosses three joints. It is often the one that shorten and cramps when sitting for extended periods of time.

Reading this you may think the body is delicate and affected by every “little” thing. The wallet may be small, but its positioning combined with hours of extended sitting can lead to problems. The body is resilient. The body will do what it can to protect itself by compensating elsewhere to spread the stress over a larger area.

If you carry your wallet, iPhone or cell phone in your back pocket or even if you don’t. You may one day experience low back pain. And if you do, you will be faced with decisions. Should I do somethig about my low back pain? Should I use a front pocket wallet? Should I do any exercises?

Consider the following options to help reduce lower back pain:

  1. Do nothing. If you do nothing, then it is most likely nothing will change, especially if you already have problems and they have been ongoing for some time. My experience shows problems get worse over time. How long have you been living with your problem? Sure you can use a front pocket wallet, and that may help. But, expecting that to correct an alignment problem in your low back is not realistic.
  2. Seek out expert advice. Because I am a chiropractor and trained as a spinal specialist I am prone to recommending people be evaluated by a chiropractor if they have low back pain. That isn’t the only reason to see a chiropractor, but it is a common one. There are other professionals you can also seek out for care and advice for your lwo back health related problems, such as medical doctors and physical therapists. In my opinion, one of the advantages of chiropractic care is that it is a drug free approach to spinal well being.
  3. Get involved. Too often I have cared for patients that did not want to get involved with their care. They expected me to do all the work and they would continue to do the very things that created or aggravated their problem to begin with. Taking an active roll in your recovery is important. Making an effort to remove the wallet from your back pocket is not the only thing you can do to keep your low back healthy. Get involved with the recovery plan your doctor creates for you.

Keep in mind this post is based on my observations while practicing for over 11 years. Where you wear your wallet is entirely up to you. It is my intent to help educate you more on how your low back works as well as some possible causes to your low back pain. One of the best ways to keep your low back healthy is with regular activity and proper low back strengthening exercises.

Visit eHolster to view their selection of front pocket wallets, wallet cases and shoulder holster wallets, all designed to get your wallet out of your back pocket to keep your spine happy and healthy.

Post written by, and illustrations created by:

Joseph Doughty, D.C.
Upper Cervical Chiropractor
Content 4 Chiropractors