Hello, lovely bodies! How have you been?!
After a little time away from my clinic to study and gather knowledge I’m back! And I am beyond excited to be working with you all again, helping you out of pain and getting you back to doing all the things you love!
It took me a lot longer than I thought it would to decide what to centre this first blog post around; I have so much I want to chat about! But to kick things off I figured I would keep it simple and something I knew so many of you could relate to, lower back pain!
Lower back pain is something I see a lot in my clinic and if you have ever suffered from it, I’m sure you would agree that it sucks! Literally, sometimes it can feel as if it sucks everything from you, strips you of your independence and leaves you feeling pretty grim.
Symptoms usually present as a dull, achy pain across the lower back with restricted movement but also with some fruity extra’s such as numbness and tingling down one leg, pain deep into the glutes, often referred to as sciatica, muscles spasms, tightness in the hips and pelvis, and even pain that travels through to the abdomen. It affects your ability to move, stops you from lifting, stops you exercising, it can affect your sleep, your ability to sit without discomfort, stand for long periods of time or even walk without pain.
Ok, Let’s stop here for a second and take a breath before I open this vast subject matter up too much and start writing a blog that would take about a week to read.
I’m going to focus our chat down a bit.
There are lots of muscles that are commonly involved in lower back pain, some that cause local pain and some radiate pain, these include, Quadratus Lumborum, Erector Spinae, Piriformis, Gluteus Maximus, Gluteus Medius, Hamstrings and even your Psoas (runs deep within your core that helps flex the hip, just one of it’s very useful functions).
You may have read reports that sitting down all day is really bad for your overall health, you may have also heard that sitting down from long periods of time isn’t that great for the health of your spine either, but has anyone explain more about why that might be?
Our bodies are pretty clever; in fact, they are experts when it comes to adapting to fit out lifestyles.
When we stand, our hamstrings are working with our quads to help keep our legs stable enough to keep us upright, it might not feel like it, but those guys are busy!
If you spend a lot of time sitting down, your body starts to believe that these muscles are no longer important, as they are kept in a slackened position and are seemly “off duty”.
This means that when you stand up, your hamstrings are being stretched to places they had long forgotten about.
Muscles are made up of kind of elastic like tissue; and similar to a balloon or an elastic band, it works at its best after its been warmed up a bit first, had some movement and become a bit more supple. I mean, how much easier is it to blow up a balloon after stretching the neck out a few times? Right?
But what does that have to do with your back?
Well, hamstrings attach deep in the hip, so when these tighten it can pull and lead to increased stress on your lumbar spine (it’s all connected) often causing lower back pain and sciatic type symptoms, added to that, other supporting muscles around your hips and pelvis have to work over time for the trouble caused by these muscles underperforming…. BOOM! There you have it, lower back pain.
So what can you do about it?
It’s not always possible to spend your day standing up, especially if your job requires you to sit, but there are plenty of ways you can help ease your symptoms. Taking regular walking breaks is a great places to start, even if its just a few steps, making sure you are getting up from your desk or work station whenever possible get your hamstrings moving can help intercept the muscle deactivating.
Of course, booking in to see a massage therapist would be a great shout!
I use advanced clinical massage techniques to target the main culprits and aim to get your out of pain within 1-6 treatments.
- Trigger Point Therapy
- Thai Stretching
- Myofascial Release
For more information on treatments or to book an appointment click here.
Implementing regular stretching and mobility exercises will make a huge difference. Aim for 2 – 3 times a week if you can. It doesn’t have to take over you life, it could be as simple as adding a few extra stretches to your gym session, doing a few stretching in front of the TV of an evening or joining a local yoga or pilates class, doing it with other people can be a great motivator.
To get you started I’ve elegantly demonstrated a simple static hamstring stretch with an optional progression below.
Laying on your back, stretch both legs out, flexing at the ankle so that your toes are pointing up.
Lift one leg, being sure to keep your hips engaged with the floor.
Straighten out your raised leg with your heel directed towards the ceiling, hold just above or below your knee.
Hold this stretch up to 30 seconds then relax your leg down to the ground
Repeat 3-4 times on each leg
To increase the intensity, bring your toes your nose or grab a yoga belt to hook it round your foot giving you the ability to gentling bring your foot closer to you.
Be sure that your leg is straight and that your hips stay engaged to the ground, if you find that your hips are lifting up, reduce the stretch back and work into it slowly, if your hips are raising, your hamstrings are no longing the ones getting the stretch ;)
Now get ready for this, I’m about to blow your mind with a bonus fact… it’s not actually possible to lengthen a muscle, or shorten it for that matter. It’s just an illusion, your muscle is the length it is, and that’s that. So you may not be able to make it longer or shorter but what you can do is improve its capability and help it realise it’s potential by guiding it to it’s current end point and teaching your body, through repetition, that its ok to push those boundaries and when you do so, you can increase the control, tone, flexibly and range of motion of that muscle.
For additional guidance on stretching, to book an appointment or for recommendations of local yoga and pilates classes, keep coming back for future blog posts or send me a message here.