Getting Back to Basics Series: Wouldn’t it make sense to learn how to take care of your back before problems arise? Or to be able to take care of aches and pains yourself by getting back to the basics of back care? This article is the first of several about getting back to the basics of self-care. My goal is to teach you how to take care of your back before you need more serious intervention if that is ever needed at all.
As with anything we do, it is good to go back to the basics as a way to improve what you do. As a coach once said to me, once the basics are sealed into your brain, the more difficult tasks become easier.
I have noticed, and maybe you have too, that most injuries occur because we forget the very basic movements, we are trying to in the effort to be too fast or efficient.
This morning one of my clients and I were talking about how people make their lives difficult. Most of that comes from getting away from the basics. I have met a few people that have come to see me and said what I did helped them eliminate pain more than most other treatments, but they just could not believe there was not more to it. The more they dug into external information about medical conditions and treatment, the less often they practiced the basic stretches I had shown them that solved their problem when we met.
They seemed to believe that the solution to their pain just could not be that easy. If it was, then why didn’t a doctor or another therapist say the same thing that I did?
It is almost a sense of pride to if they could get an unusual diagnosis or complicated surgery. The complicated solution justified their pain.
If they could get highly educated people to support them in the belief that the source of their pain was something more than a basic care or alignment issue, they did not feel embarrassed.
Think about it. Can you imagine if your back hurt and you had to tell your friends that you love sitting even though sitting hurts your back? What’s worse, that’s the reason you cannot participate in any of their activities? How embarrassing would that be? At least if you had a serious sounding diagnosis or major surgery you could feel better about that.
What Doctors Know and Don’t Know
I am not making fun of people having back surgery; that is a very serious surgery and some people really do need surgery. There are some very brilliant doctors that perform the surgeries as well and they do know about the back.
However, when you go to the surgeon and they show you scans of your back, what you are seeing is the result of something else happening, not the source of the problem. For instance, you fall out of a tree and break your arm. You go to the hospital and get an x-ray. Yep, you have a broken arm the doctor says. If you don’t tell the doctor about falling out of the tree first, the doctor cannot tell you how you broke your arm just by looking at the x-ray. Herein lies the problem.
Doctors are human and will turn to the advanced skills and surgical solutions that they know well as best solution for the pain your body presents. However, if you really want to know how to take care of your back pain, the solution could be found in addressing issues of simple body mechanics.
Tight Muscles are the Culprit
Without a trauma to the back, the back usually does not just “go out.” I know it may feel that way, but if you do not understand how you could have been damaging your back over time, how would you know any different?
Low back stiffness is usually caused by the muscles in your thighs or hips. Sitting too much, especially in recliners, is not good for you. When in a seated position, the muscles on the front of your thighs (quads) and the inner thighs are in a shortened state. When you stand up or stand for long periods of time, the low back will hurt because these muscles are pulling the pelvis forward putting compression of the low back.
If the back hurts while lying on your back and you find that a pillow under your knees stops, or reduces, the pain, it is probably the quads are tight and causing the pain in your back. After sitting in a recliner, many people will experience back and neck pain when they stand.
The Recliner Analysis
Next time you see someone sitting in a recliner, look at the position they are in from head to toe. They may say sitting in the recliner makes their back feel better, but watch what happens when they stand. Does their standing position look similar to their position when sitting? Usually, they are leaning forward when standing and the head is out in front of their chest. This bent position does not pull on the tight muscles in the thighs or hips. There is no pressure while sitting in the recliner or standing in this bent position.
If the back pain occurs while seated, again, look at the position while seated. The back of the thighs (hamstrings) are likely stretched out so there is tension on the back. Once the person stands, the hamstrings are shortened, and it removes the pressure on the back. These are the basic ways your thighs can contribute to back pain.
The hips can affect the back as well. When the hip muscles are hard, it can make it difficult to walk and it forces the thighs to overwork just to walk across the room. It is true that “buns of steel” are the goal for many people in a gym, but for functionality “buns of steel” are the worst for back pain.
The muscles on the side of the hips can shift your hips from side to side. As it lifts the hips on one side, it may appear as if one leg is shorter than the other. This mistake happens when a doctor or therapist measures the length by placing your ankles together.
How to Take Care of Back Pain Yourself
Learning these basics about how your body works can help identify many problems you may currently experience and some you may not experience until later. Throughout this month I will writing about the basics to help you better identify what could be causing your pain or discomfort.
About The Muscle Repair Shop
Drawing upon his personal experience as a former competitive athlete turned wheelchair, obese and chronic pain sufferer, Muscle Repair Shop founder Butch Phelps decided to take his health into his own hands when at the age of 36 he was told he might not make it to his 40th birthday. Applying balanced nutrition advice from his doctor along with a sound exercise program, he went from 315 lbs. to 180 lbs. Motivated by his experience, he then acquired degrees in advanced therapeutic massage and aging sciences to help people eliminate chronic pain. This included applying his expertise in how people age, including the effects of dementia, anatomy, psychology, and the day-to-day struggles living as an older person to his practice and development of The Muscle Repair Shop’s one-of-a-kind Stretch n’ Release Technique.
Available through in-office and virtual coaching treatment sessions, this unique combination of stretching and breath work teaches the brain to release the emotional side of muscle tension and pain allows clients to find lasting relief and healing from stiffness, aches, injuries, and chronic pain. The at-home exercises come with customized instructional videos and virtual or in-office support, allowing clients to enjoy and experience life and sports as they did before limitations slowed or curtailed activities.
We’re happy to offer you a complimentary 30-min virtual consultation so you can experience this for yourself. Schedule your introduction to Stretch n Release now.