Mark Perren-Jones from the Haven Spa and Health Clinic
A client came to see me yesterday who was suffering from acute lower back pain. She had had a gallon of paint in the back of her car and reached in to lift it out and, ‘bang’ her back went out-but where did it go? Back pain is generally easy to fix when you know why it happened (the cause) and then how to fix it (the back pain exercises) and then how to avoid this happening in the future (the solution!).
I am sure you have heard it a million times and if you are reading this perhaps it has happened to you, or has just happened. (If it has just happened and you are in severe pain go to the lower back pain SEVERE post to find out what to do immediately. ) You go to lift something or pick something up from the ground and you feel your back ‘go’. The irony of the situation is that it’s usually only something light not heavy. This is because it’s the last straw that breaks the camels back. Micro trauma after micro trauma, micro tears after micro tears until finally something ‘snaps’. It’s a bit like the smoker who ‘suddenly’ develops lung problems-it didn’t just happen overnight. It was a long time in the making. Likewise if you are sitting poorly, bending poorly and have generally bad postural habits then the constant strain on the ligaments will finally reach a breaking point. Les see what actually goes on.
I call this problem:
Over flex syndrome
This is caused by bending forward, slouching at your desks, computers, lazing in your couches and lifting poorly. This puts your lower back into flexion rather than having the slight inward curve you should have which is called a lordosis. If you slouch or bend forwards, this pushes on your discs pushing them backwards. At first if you slouch at your computer you have ligaments that surround the discs and this keeps the discs in place and you may feel some lower back pain but it eases after you stand up and walk around for a while. Keep these bad habits up though and the ligaments start to lose their integrity and eventually get torn and create lower back pain that doesn’t just go away after a little standing and walking about. It’s just like if you were to bend your finger backward and kept pulling it backwards- you would feel pain because you are pulling the finger against the ligaments and over stretching them. Imagine doing this for 8 hours like you do when you sit slouched at a computer or bend forwards hundreds of times a day. This is what happens to your back. After a while the ligaments can no longer hold the disc in place and the disc may finally break through the ligaments. This is where the nerves are and it can push on a nerve, most commonly hitting the sciatic nerve causing pain, or numbness, or pins and needles down the back of the leg or buttock-sciatica.
To avoid this you MUST sit properly at all times, lift and bend using the squat or lunge techniques (see need to know section) to avoid hurting your back further. Use a lumbar roll when sitting to help your lower back; it’s used to help you keep the lower back arch when sitting. When you are sitting like this you are using your muscles which will get stronger over time and no longer just resting on your ligaments anymore. The other exercises you will need to do are the extension exercises to help reposition the discs.
The lower back and discs are just like any other part of the body-they can heal if allowed to. If you continue to slouch and bend forwards you continue to damage the area and the pain will remain. If you were to cut your elbow and continued to bend your elbow you would continually break open the injury and it would not heal quickly but if you stopped bending it for about a week the injury would heal. Your back is the same, stop injuring by slouching, bending forward and your back can heal. Then you continue to implement the good sitting, lifting and good postural habits to keep you PAIN FREE.