Do you experience regular back pain?
I know I have and occasionally still do. I am human after all.
Expecting pain to be cleared from the body forever is simply unrealistic. The body, like life, will always be changing states. It will move from being pain-free and at ease to feeling tight and awkward, then returning to pain-free again.
Part of the approach to managing this pain is:
1. Acknowledging that changes in your physical state are normal and learn to roll with them rather than resisting.
2. Managing it with intelligence and wisdom before it become serious (don’t let it blow out to over 2+ weeks).
I’ve noticed that my back pain tends to be focused in the lower back when I’ve been sitting for long periods of time. It can often build up over a period of days until the pain and discomfort starts to really scream at me.
What do you do to stop it screaming?
Do you get onto it before it starts screaming?
I have realized a key to working with and avoiding intense back pain.
90% of back pain is not due to tight muscles in the back…
It’s due to the hamstrings!
More specifically, it’s due to tight, shortened hamstrings.
The shortened hamstrings come mainly from sitting in chairs. When we are bending at the knees, the hamstring muscle fibers are shortened. When we spend hours and days in this common position, the hamstrings will naturally start to re-calibrate their length to suit this posture.
While this picture demonstrates good spinal posture, it still shows how sitting in a chair acts to shorten the hamstrings.
This tendency for the hamstrings to re-calibrate their length to a shortened position results in them feeling tight whenever we do anything other than sit in a chair. Therefore, we have to continually remind and train the hamstring fibres to open up and experience their full length.
Tight hamstrings also lead to tightened connective tissue along the entire back of the body. This tightened connective tissue leads it to the hips “tucking under,” resulting in no little to no lower back curve, which in turn adds a lot of extra pressure into the lower back. It is this extra workload on the lower back muscles that leads to pain and spasm.
The best way to treat this and help the superficial muscles of the back is to release the hamstrings and lengthen the entire back of the body.
Here are a number of simple postures and stretches you can do to relieve back pain right away:
1. LEGS UP ON A CHAIR
This pose is more of an “urgent” posture for when the back is in pain or spasm. Before we can stretch out the hamstrings and back of the body, we need to get it out of spasm-mode. When it’s in spasm mode, it’s in defence in order to protect itself. Only when it realizes that it’s safe to release can we stretch it properly. This posture takes the pressure off the lower back muscles so they can relax. Reduction in pain is usually quick when in this posture. However, if pain persists seek out your preferred medical health practitioner to help you get the muscles out of their stressed state.
When in pain, do this posture ASAP.
2. “The Pigeon” Posture
If you haven’t done this posture before or for a while, it can be really intense. Therefore, take your time with it.
Draw a knee up in front of your torso and gently move the foot on the same leg across your body to enhance the stretch. Make sure both hips are squared, which means that you are not leaning to one side or resting on one hip. Bring both hips up and square. The back toe can be tucked under if you’re feeling too much pressure in the back knee.
3. Standing forward-bend posture
People tend to move quickly into this one and stay for a short time, which produces little benefit. The key here, again, is to take your time with it.
If you’re new to this pose or you find it awkward, bend your knees a little – it’s ok! We are not focusing specifically on the hamstrings in this one, but the entire back of the body. Therefore allow the stretching to move into any part in the back of your body. People often feel it in different places – back of legs, lower back or even neck and shoulders. This is fine!
Let yourself dangle there for a while. Make sure your head is dropped towards the floor and use your breath to soften the areas of tightness in the back of the body.
When you’re done, slowly come back up. If you get dizzy, just take a seat for a little bit. Eventually, this posture will become second nature to you and you will notice that you will feel refreshed and more relaxed.
4. The “cat cow” moving posture
This posture is a moving posture and is largely designed to retrain your body to find a more effective and efficient position for your spine. The body often needs a reminder as to its range of movement so it can recalibrate itself somewhere in the middle of the extremes. Of course, this posture also stretches the tissues of the front and back of body, which feels amazing.
Perform at least 10 up-and-down movements through the spine. You don’t have to push it to the absolute edge of your range of motion. Focusing on smooth, flowing movements through the spine feels great and, often, more nurturing.
I must also add, while these postures can work magic for many people, pain is a complicated phenomenon, one that is not fully understood by our best doctors and scientists. If these physical postures don’t address the issue, it is worth looking into the emotional, mental, and spiritual dimensions, as they can also be involved.
Practices like E.F.T., hypnosis, meditation, or even just going out and having some fun can also do wonders at clearing physical pains from the body (maybe all you needed was a to let your hair down, have a good laugh, and dance it out on a dance floor somewhere).
Let me know how you go with it.