Have you ever awakened, stand up from bed, and feel horrible pain in your back? Maybe, after sitting for a while and you stand up you get back pain? Or, if you stand too long, you feel a need to sit down to relieve the pain in your back. These are common complaints I hear daily. The #1 injury most people have is back pain. What is equally amazing is the various treatments that people have endured with little to no improvement. Back braces, injections, strength training exercises, and even surgery trying to stop the pain. Every professional is doing what they were taught to do for back pain. I did the same thing until I learned why my back hurt.
Any time you feel back pain the longer you stand, or when you
just stand up after sitting or lying down, the cause is rarely the back. This usually means that the front of your thighs, the quads, or the inner thighs are pulling the pelvis forward which will put a kink in your low back. If when sitting you feel a need to stand up because your back hurts, then it is likely that the hamstrings are pulling the pelvis backward, again putting pressure on the low spine. Over time either can lead to disc issues or pinched nerves.
How can this happen? These areas can become tight from walking, running, working out, or anything that requires movement. It is not a case of doing anything wrong, just the way the body moves. In fact, the length of your gait could cause your back to hurt.
What can you do about it? Let’s begin with the calves and feet. Any rotation movement begins with your feet. The 4 calf muscles work with the hamstrings to rotate your body either right or left. Learning to stretch your calves correctly is highly important. What we are typically taught about calf stretching is really more of an Achilles tendon stretch and will not improve the rotation. The calves are responsible for the supination and pronation of the foot. Again, the typical calf stretch will not address this. The calf muscles are responsible for the rotation of the body, the length of gait, and the balance of the foot.
The best way I have ever seen to stretch my calves is sitting on the floor with your back against the wall. If you can’t get on the floor, sit in a hard-backed chair with your foot on an ottoman. Use a yoga strap, rope, or anything that is not stretchy to stretch the calves. Place one leg straight out in front of you so the back of the knee is flat on the floor. If you can’t do this yet, just sit and practice pressing the knee down for 5 seconds at a time several times a day. Don’t force it, but gently allow it to relax and lay flat.
Once your leg is flat to the floor, place the strap around the ball of your foot and gently pull the toes back towards you hold for 5 seconds as you breathe out. Repeat this 10 times. Make sure you do both legs. In a few days, you will be amazed at how well you can do this.