If you're here, you're probably asking yourself "Why does my back hurt when I cough". This has been an age-old question. Whether you are suffering from a headache, a stomach ache, or even heart pain, why is it that coughing or sneezing amplifies the pain in such an unbearable way?
This article aims to dissect the back muscle anatomy behind the question "why my back hurts when I cough" as well as some preventative measures you can take in order to combat lower back pain from coughing.
Back Hurts When I Cough - Why?
Coughing is a natural way of clearing air from ones lungs and it is very difficult to withhold the urge to cough when the time comes. The reason your body randomly forces air out of your lungs when you cough is to get rid of unwanted irritants and materials that found their way into your lungs. Having back pain during the process of coughing can increase your pain levels and even injure said area worse. If you suffer from back pain it is important you understand why my back hurts when I cough/why my back hurts when I breathe, and what I can do to prevent future pain and potential injury.
Back Hurts When I Cough - Contributors:
Coughing or sneezing is likely to bring sharp agonizing stabs of pain [1.].
Several different factors can contribute to why my back hurts when I cough. Tight muscles and built up tensions are at the top of the list. Coughing or sneezing is a quick and almost violent motion - (it contracts your muscles in a very rapid and impulsive fashion where it's difficult to catch yourself). With your whole body tensing up with the combined reaction you have to throw your body forward is a recipe for disaster on your lower back.
Having a stiff and injured back when this reaction happens, leads to your muscles and joints firing out of nowhere. Think of it as a shock that stirs up your muscles and joints completely unannounced.
Back Hurts When I Cough - Quadratus Lumborum:
A muscle that plays a big role in why my back hurts when I cough is the Quadratus Lumborum muscle of the lower back. The Quadratus Lumborum is a large muscle that runs from the bottom of the rib cage to the top of the pelvis. A lot of lower back problems can be rooted back to this muscle because of its function as well as the muscle's willingness to become tight.
When the Quadratus Lumborum muscle becomes tight or is injured, - side bending, twisting, and leaning forward can be very painful. Besides controlling movement at the waist, both sides of the Quadratus Lumborum participate together in forced exhalation, such as in coughing or sneezing [1.]. If this is where your pain resides when coughing, relieving tightness and tension of the muscle will help potentially get rid of future Quadratus Lumborum Pain (see video).
Back Hurts When I Cough - QL Claw Pain Relief:
Knowing why my back hurts when I cough will help you understand how to counteract the pain. A great way to initially counteract some of the pain is to brace your core and keep a stable lower back (not throwing your head down and letting your body fold). Having a tight core and slight arch but not overextending your back.
Fixing the root of the problem of my back hurts when I cough is to free your back muscles of built of tension. In order to rid the muscle of tension and find relief, you must apply targeted deep-tissue massage to the muscle. A deep, soothing deep tissue massage will release low back muscle pain of its constant muscle tension and allow it to exist as a normal, non-pain-inducing muscle. For the Quadratus Lumborum muscles, a great tool for this is the QL Claw.
If you want to see how to use the QL Claw on the Quadratus Lumborum muscle, check out the video below.
 Donnelly, Joseph M. Travell, Simons & Simons Myofascial Pain and Dysfunction: the Trigger Point Manual. 3rd ed., Wolters Kluwer Health, 2019.
 Davies, Clair, and Amber Davies. The Trigger Point Therapy Workbook: Your Self-Treatment Guide for Pain Relief. 3rd ed., New Harbinger Publications, Inc., 2013.