Lower Back Pain

Preventing Lower Back Pain

Preventing Lower Back Back

Almost everyone is susceptible to low back pain and indeed, may well develop back pain at some stage in their life no matter how well they look after their body.

The wear and tear sustained by the spine by just going through the motions of everyday living is inevitable. Having said that, if you took to your bed for life in an effort to protect your body from wear and tear, you would actually cause it more damage because the body is designed to take impact. It’s built in shock absorbers are there to protect its structures. The bones and muscles actually become stronger when they are subjected to forces, so the activities you do in your daily life are likely to do more to protect your body than damage it.

This reminds me of the adage often used by people to excuse their actions ‘well you may well be run over by a bus tomorrow’. My counter to this is ’yes, but you still look before you step into the road, don’t you?’

Just because it is very likely that at some stage you will suffer low back pain it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take measures to protect yourself!

Exercise regularly and stretch often, daily stretching is valuable in keeping the body supple and flexible. Exercise keeps the muscles strong and supportive and maintains the integrity of the skeleton. Eat healthily and maintain a moderate weight for your height. Being overweight puts enormous strain on the body’s structures and eventually causes irreparable damage. Have regular massage. This will help to keep the muscles in good condition and ease out any stresses and strains before they become a problem. Observe how you perform your daily functions, we cannot make allowance for the genetic anomalies of our anatomy. What we can do however, is take care how we lift, sit, stand, carry loads for example and give our spine the best protection we can.

At my massage practice in Ely, Cambs I can give you more advice specific to you on caring for your back’s health.

Treatment for lower back pain

Treatment for lower back pain.

Let’s talk about muscle pain today and because the most common type of muscle pain is lower back pain let’s make that todays area of focus.

Just about everyone suffers from lower back pain at some point. Modern life pretty much guarantees that. Even when we exercise regularly, the things we do to excess during the day contribute to our most important muscles malfunctioning. This results in lower back pain.

The most significant muscles governing locomotion and stability are the glutes. The tight sling of muscles we all know as the buttocks.  Yet every working day in Ely, Cambs I can be almost certain that I will see at least one patient with problematic glutes complaining of lower back pain, usually more than one.
The glutes are central to the posterior chain. It is vital for them to work efficiently otherwise other muscles are recruited to do their job. The whole body then loses strength and balance and lower back pain can develop as a consequence.

So, you’re one of the good guys. You get up early to get to the gym before work. Excellent. Then you spend an hour sitting on your glutes on your commute to work. Not so good. You get to work and spend most of your day sitting in meetings, at your computer or on the edge of someone else’s desk with your body contorted at a strange angle whilst you exchange ideas. Bad. Then another commute before later, worn out, collapsing in front of the TV, very bad. It gives me lower back pain to just contemplate a day like this.

All that sitting overstretches the glutes. They get used to being lengthened for excessive periods. So much so that the muscle spindles re-set themselves in the lengthened position, so that when you stand up and ask them to work they simply don’t have enough tension in them to do the job they are supposed to do. The result of this lack of support from the glutes is often lower back pain and over tightened hip extensors which causes hip pain too.

So what can you do about it, you can’t give up work and it’s a pretty long cycle ride to get there. The answer is to re-balance the central stabilisers with stretching, exercise and massage.
How do you know if your glutes are weak? The quickest way to tell is to stand sideways to a full length mirror. Do you have a flat rear? It may look small  and neat but chances are if it doesn’t protrude much further than the line of your back, then your glutes are lacking tone. Does your pelvis tip forward slightly? Do you get low back pain? Time to do some work on your deep muscles.

Your first port of call should be your doctor to ensure that there is nothing amiss. If he or she says you are ok then you can start working on your recovery. When I see a patient we look at ways of putting this into action and work towards getting back to a body which is mobile and pain free.

Focus on your core for strength and stability

Exercising dynamically will help to stregthen your core at the same time

A lot of attention gets paid to the core muscles. As a Remedial Massage Therapist I spend a lot of time advising clients to strengthen their core in order to protect their spine. The main core muscles, the transverse abdominals, multifidus and the pelvic floor muscles stabilise the body whilst it performs movements. If the core is not strong then the global movement muscles have to work a lot harder and will try also to stabilise the body. This is where injuries can happen.

The difficulty in learning to strengthen the core is that if there is weakness  in those muscles, it becomes more difficult to isolate them and identify when they are actually being used.

I am even now surprised at how often during muscular testing firstly, glutes fail to fire correctly, then even more so, how few people are actually able to isolate their glutes. The glutes are the power house of the body, we need to know not only where they are on our body, but how to make use of them correctly. If we can’t find our glutes then we have little hope of knowing where our core muscles are.

Dynamic exercises like the lunge automatically make use of the core, it is impossible to balance without using your core muscles. The acid test though, comes whilst executing the lunge. With weak muscles it is difficult for the spine to remain erect. As the glutes, transverse abdominals and obliques become stronger and the hip flexors more elastic staying upright becomes easier. It is essential to keep the pelvis level and the foot and knee in alignment with the hip.

Get your personal trainer to teach your how to lunge in perfect alignment and your core muscles will be getting a dynamic workout. as they get stronger you will get better at identifying which muscle is which and you will become able to engage your core before performing a movement so that your exercise the muscle you want to work on effectively and protect your body whilst you are doing it.

Take care of your lower back and avoid pain.

Avoiding lower back pain and sciatic pain by taking care of yourself

Taking care of you back is common sense really when trying to avoid but most of us negelct it some if not all the time. Just being mindful makes a difference. Don’t spend long hours hunched over a computer or steering wheel. If your job demands that you do these things then make sure you take some breaks and do some simple stretches. The best person to advise you on this is your therapist. He or she will know where your problems are and will advise on stretches specifically to alleviate those muscles. Exercise regularly, bodies don’t like being immobile, the muscles tighten and shorten and they lose the strength to hold your posture correctly leading to slouching, closed chest even curvature of the spine. Don’t sit around watching  TV in the evening, we all have time to get at least some exercise. Yes, tiredness can be demotivating but getting up and doing something will make you feel energised and it will eventually become a habit which will put a spring back in your step. If it seems daunting to exercise begin very slowly increasing your efforts over weeks.

On my way to work every day for the last year I have been passing a lady walking, at first she was obesely overweight and walked with the help of two sticks. As the weeks went by her weight dropped and I would see her on the way home too. The sticks went and her speed increased, she was out there rain or shine never giving up. Very recently I saw her running and I am willing to bet that she would never have imagined she would be able to.

To prevent low back pain it is very important to have a strong core, glutes which work correctly and hamstrings which are nice and flexible, this takes a little work, but you will reap the benefits in both health terms and comfort. Keeping your body weight within healthy limits is  important and exercise will help with this, a good therapist will be able to give you advice on nutrition or should at least have someone they can lead you to if you need advice.

A healthy pain free back is part of a holistic approach to your body’s health. If you look after the whole of you then you will be less likely to suffer aches and pains and massage is a part of this holistic approach. It can help to correct imbalances, remove problems within the muscles which are causing pain and make it more comfortable to exercise. Your massage therapist can also be very motivational and supportive, often it is just not knowing what you need to do to help your low back pain which is the problem.

Ignoring Hamstring Stretches Leads to Low Back Pain

Runners Remember, Ignoring Your Post Run Stretching

Routine Will have an Impact on Lower Back Pain

Tight Hamstrings are a nuisance to us all. It’s not just runners who suffer from tight hamstrings. They are the set of muscles on the backs of your thighs, comprising the semi- tendinosus, semi-membranosus and the long and short head of the biceps femoris. They run rom the ischial tuberosity – your ‘sitting bone’ along the back of the femur to the bones of the lower leg just below the knee. Their job is the flexion and extension of the leg.

Sometimes genetics will determine that you have short hamstrings, sometimes the things you do will cause it. Either way you should do your best to keep them long, strong and felxible.

Tight hamstrings pull on the pelvis tilting it upwards and altering the whole mobility of the spine and giving you an unattractive pot belly! This not only looks unattractive but causes low back pain. Stretching legs out after running – and don’t ignore the quads either because this will lead to an imbalance – is an important part of your training.

Add to stretching a good deep soft tissue massage at least once a month and your will ward off low back pain. Keeping mobile if you have a sedentary job, a regular, if not daily, yoga routine and a visit to you remedial massage therapist wsill all make a huge difference to how your back feels. Your massage therapist will be able to give youlots of lifestyle and exercise advice and stretches which will keep you in good shape.