This week seems to be the week of lower back pain in the clinic. I say this because 80% of this weeks client list has come in with varying degrees of back pain.
Some have put up with it for awhile before coming in to see me and others are just starting to feel the twinges and want to get on top of it quickly.
Whilst there are many different causes for lower back pain, there are certain things that are more common throughout.
1) Excessive bending
Whether its bending over the hood of a car, putting your child to bed for the umpteeth time or making beds, bending over at the hips is TOUGH on your lower back.
Physiologically, by bending over from the hips, the muscles are being pulled at their up most length. This done without warning often sends the body into a panic and to try and protect itself from harm, it tightens the muscles and resists the movement.
Trying to move against your body's protective muscle tightening can then cause the PAIN message to be sent to your brain to stop you from doing the movement again, aka "protection mode."
2) Prolonged sitting
Our bodies are designed to move, not be stuck in a chair all day long, so it is not surprising to have clients come to be with very sore lower backs after they've been chained to their work-desk or in the car for too many hours of the day, every day, week in - week out.
This causes the muscles to spasm (shorten) and the ligaments to stiffen, making it a challenge to move around as freely as before.
3) Lifting heavy things or awkwardly
Believe it or not, there is a limitation to how much load we can put our body through. Whilst it is GREATLY IMPORTANT to be healthy and fit, there are LOTS of gym based injuries coming through the clinic, in the quest to be healthy and strong.
However, this is not just a gym-related movement. Getting a box from the back of shed, twisting as you reach around grabbing a tool or even trying to pull that stubborn tree root out of the ground all have the same issue.
We all know HOW to lift properly.
Bend at the knees, Feet shoulder width apart, Back straight, Core muscles tightened, Testing the weight before lifting, Tucking elbows into the body, Moving your feet to turn rather than twisting at the waist... and yet, there are occasions that stop us from doing just that, resulting in a very sore back the next day.
So once these clients have come to see me for their massage sessions, I often send them home with a few simple stretches to pay back our extremely hard working back. I thought I'd share them with you too.
1) Childs Pose.
This stretches the gluteal muscles as well as the long muscles on the back in a slow and gentle manner. People often find that whilst in this pose, they can feel their back "let go" of the tension
2) Lumbar Rotation
This helps with the big "twisting" muscles, the quadratus lumborum (QL for short). Again, done slowly and held at each side for 20-30 seconds allows the muscles to "let go" of their tension, often arising after being in "protection mode."
3) Piriformis stretch
The poor piriformis is often overworked and usually overlooked when it comes to therapy and stretching, and yet it can have a life-changing affect when its treated properly.
There are a few different positions that this stretch can be done, however my favourite, particularly for my prolonged sitters, is this one.
Adjusting the strength of the stretch by simply leaning forward gives you the ability to control your comfort levels in stretching.
Give these simple stretches a try and tell me how you get on though the Facebook page.