What is a lumbar strain?

What is the difference between a lumbar strain and sprain?

A lumbar or back strain is an injury to either a muscle or tendon. It can happen in any part of the back, however, a lower lumbar strain is more common as that is where a lot of the force comes when you use your back to lift incorrectly instead of your legs.

What is damaged in a lumbar strain?

Muscles and tendons are fibrous cords of tissue connecting the vertebrae in your back. They permit motion as they are flexible and importantly provide support for your spine. So if you have put your back or lumbar region in stressful load situation you can imagine these cords stretching beyond their normal range – thus causing pain.

How back muscles and tendons work?

There are 3 main types of muscles that support the spine: extensors (back and gluteal muscles), flexors (abdominal muscles), and obliques  (side muscles).
Now tendons attach these muscles to the bone.
When a muscle contracts, the tendon pulls on the bone it is connected to, causing that body part to move.
So if you put this picture in your mind – you can see how you can hurt them by lifting incorrectly or overstretching. 

I find that painting this picture inside my head, helps me to remember not to mistreat my back and cause a lumbar strain.

What is a lumbar Sprain?

A lumber or back sprain is referred to as the stretching or tearing of a ligament.

So what is a ligament? 

These flexible tissues are what connect one bone to another and in turn, support the body joints.  Ligaments are reasonably elastic and this allows them to stretch, within limits, and then return to their normal positions.

How common are back or lumbar strains and sprains

Behind headaches, it is widely acknowledged that these are one of the most common issues health care professionals have to deal with.

So to conclude we will repeat what is a lumbar region strain vs a sprain. In the treatment phase, they are often also referred to as a pulled lumbar muscle or back muscle sprain – but now you know the difference.

What is a lumbar strain?

When a muscle or tendon is hurt or damaged that is referred to as a lumbar strain.

What is a lumbar sprain?

When a ligament is torn or stretched it is called a back sprain.

Please read our article that talks about back braces, belts, and support.

We also have a great review of the best back braces.

Be sure to see your medical professional if you experience back pain that does not go away after a short period of rest, application of ice, and anti-inflammatory medication.

Also sleeping on a low firm bed like a Japanese Futon mattress is worth considering when you have a bad back – rather than just sleeping on the floor.  

Ever heard of Inversion Tables – and how they help with back pain – we have an authoritative article here.


What are the best exercises to help grow stronger in my back?

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