Tag Archives: Stretching

Assessing Low Back Pain Effectively

Assessing Low Back Pain

Assessing Low Back Pain
Above all to stop low back pain you must begin assessing low back pain. It should be noted that assessment is much easier than you think. In this article I will outline way to help you assess the cause of your low back pain. By incorporating the suggestions here you will begin to gain a clearer understanding of the root cause of your low back pain.

Stop Saying My Back Hurts

The statement “Stop Saying my Back Hurts” may seem ridiculous however it is part of assessing low back pain. Albeit true, try being more specific with yourself. Replace the above statement with What Am I doing right now? Then assess your current activity. Are you sitting on one leg? Do you still have that bulky wallet? Are you sitting in a poor quality seat? Once you have an answer to the above questions there is yet another question.

What Can I Do To Correct It?

Take action immediately by asking yourself “What can I do to correct it?”. Then do it. For example, throw that wallet away and get a front pocket wallet. If you’re sitting in a poor quality, unsupportive seat, stand up or move to a different seat. While the pain may not immediately subside, identifying the contributing action and correcting it will put you on the correct path. Moreover try not to get angry when you feel your low back pain.

Anger Increases Your Low Back Pain

A common reaction to low back pain is anger. Unfortunately, pain does not correct itself because you are angry. Quite the opposite actually. When you are angry your muscles will naturally begin to tense up. Thus, anger increases your low back pain. Additionally, muscle has memory. So if you are angry at the low back pain you feel you are actually training your muscle to increase tension when you are angry.
How counterproductive is that!

Here is an example to help you get a clear picture. Think back to a repetitive motion job you did. It could be stuffing envelopes to filling jars. Any repetitive job in your past. Do you remember how the first couple times you fumbled around a bit? Then after 15- 20 minutes you seemed to be able to do the job without thinking? That experience was muscle memory at work. In that situation you literally programmed your muscles to know the exact distance to reach to grab the paper and stuff the envelope. Similarly, your back muscles can have this reaction.

Chatuchak Market Vacation Back Pain Causes
Chatuchak Market, Thailand. The juggernaut weekend market that cause my back pain to creep up.

My Process Of Assessing Low Back Pain (This really happened!)

Here is an example of my process for assessing low back pain when it creeps up on me. I’m on vacation in Thailand. We had just walked the better part of the afternoon around Chatuchak Market in Bangkok. The place is massive. Not only did we walk all afternoon but we took public transportation back to the hotel. That means more standing because the train was packed. Then my back pain started. Dull at first but began increasing pretty quick.

I paused and began to “feel” around for a cause. I know we had walked far but I had on Keen sandals which normally give me great support. Plus me feet didn’t hurt, neither did my knees. So I moved on to my hips. Ah ha! I could feel my hips were super tense. Being on the train I was able to hold onto a grab bar and stretch out my hips pretty nicely. I held the stretch on each side for a good 30 plus seconds and did that three times per side. I looked a little funny but whatever.

Again, the pain didn’t go away instantly but I was able to feel it subside rather quickly. When we stepped off the train I was able to walk easier. Also, while standing waiting for cross walks I stretched my hips again, however not as intense. By the time we hit the restaurant I was feeling much better. This is the power of assessing low back pain, without anger, at work.

Applying This Example To Your Self Assessment

In your case you may not stop at your hips. The cause of your pain may be a little higher. Regardless the assessment process is the same. “Feel” each part of your body and analyze what you are doing that is causing the pain. Refrain from anger if at all possible. Then incorporate a stretch to help alleviate the pain. The stretch can be something as simple as a Pelvic Tilt or standing up and taking a short walk using long strides. Whatever the fix is for you the goal is to identify it and take immediate corrective action.

Make Movement Priority One Walking With Low Back Pain

Make Movement Priority One

Suffering from low back pain can leave you immobile. Besides being in physical pain, energetically you may feel drained. Even so, make movement priority one. Failing to do so sooner or later can leave your completely incapable of moving at all!

Lack Of Movement

Lack of movement is another major contributor to low back pain. After all the body is not meant to sit. That is to say the human body is designed to stand and move about. Today’s stagnant computer lifestyle is not at all what we are designed for. Ask yourself, how long did a caveman sit? Not long at all is the correct answer. Now don’t be confused. Certainly I’m not saying you have to get a gym membership or anything like that. Basically just get up and walk around. Take longer strides when you walk. As you walk think about relaxing your low back and allowing your legs to work freely. When you relax and focus on walking correctly you will find will be amazed at how much better you’ll feel.

How Often Should I Walk Or Move Around?

As often as possible. Once a day is not good enough. I’ll just be honest with you. You should have a focused relaxed walk at least 2-3 times a day. Roughly 15 – 30 minutes or more each time. The idea is to get mobility and relaxation to relieve your low back pain. See the “Lateral Rotation” section below for tips on walking correctly to stop low back pain.

Make Movement Priority One Daily

There were days that crippling low back pain kept down however my goal was to minimize those days. No matter what I tried to make movement priority one daily. You should too. Despite what you may be thinking I am not telling you to run a mile. Certainly for some of my readers walking will be difficult while running will be impossible. On the contrary, any movement will do. Even if you can only make snow angels in your bed, do it. You will get significantly more benefit from moving your arms than nothing at all.

Do The Maximum Movement You Are Capable Of

Regardless of what the movement is do the maximum amount of movement you are capable of every day. To put it another way, if you can move your arms straight above your head then do it. Do it multiple times too. In the same fashion if you can walk around the block 10 times do that also. Ultimately your goal is to retain the maximum amount of movement you have at the current moment. Do not let low back pain stop you from moving the rest of your body.

Snow Angels Movement With Low Back Pain
Even if you are on bed rest try to move your arms like a Snow Angel.

Move It Or Loose It

Chances are you have heard the phrase “Move It or Loose It”. This phrase refers applies to your body too. Undeniably when you stop moving to your maximum Range Of Motion your range of motion will decrease. Additionally, prolonged periods of sedentary lifestyle can lead to Atrophy. Atrophy is a medical term for the decrease in muscle tone or mass. An example of this is a person that has had a cast on a broken arm or leg. If you have seen them when the cast is removed you will notice that the casted arm or leg will be smaller that it was before the broken bone. The reduction you see in muscle size is called Atrophy. In like manner when you don’t move for a long period of time all of your muscles are subject to Atrophy. For this reason I say make movement priority one!

If You Can, Walk!

Most effective recoveries happen when back pain suffers make movement priority one. To that end walking correctly can be instrumental to a speedy recovery. Mall walking or street walking, the choice is yours but get up and get out. A walking exercise that I do commonly is I will walk as far as I can away from my house. Then when I get too tired I get in a taxi and go home. This exercise works great if you are in an urban area however, this may not work for everyone. An alternative is to arrange a taxi to pick you up or have a friend meet you at a specified destination, like your favorite restaurant. Use your ending destination as a reward. Pick some place good. Like an ice cream shop!

Movement Is Good But Do It Correctly

To emphasize, movement is good but do it correctly. Especially if you are in a heightened state of pain. An example would be lifting with your legs. In fact, if you have low back pain you may want to practice proper lifting. A great exercise is picking up a piece of paper. There is only the weight of your body so when you squat down you only have to focus on your posture, not potential weight. Similarly walking correctly. Make sure your feet face forward with every step. If your feet turn in or out you are not moving correctly. Slowly make adjustments and get your feet to point straight ahead. Likewise, if your movement is snow angels in your bed do some with your palms together and some with your palms facing out.

Recommended Reading For Movement

Unquestionably there are hundreds of books on movement and stretching however a few of them really stand out. Among the best is “Stretching” by Bob Anderson. With simple illustrations in a large format, every stretch you’ll ever need is in this book, ironically called Stretching.
Second is “Life After Pain” by Dr Jonathan Kuttner. In this book Dr. Kuttner guides you along the path to eliminating chronic pain of all kinds. Dr. Kuttner explains what causes your pain and offers outstanding techniques to help you back to health. Most notable techniques are Dr. Kuttner’s breathing exercises.
The third book I recommend is “Mobility: A Step-by-Step Guide to Treating Musculoskeletal Pain Yourself” by Dr. Nick Chretien. Dr. Chretien writes from a perspective of crossfit/weight training however the techniques he teaches in the book are outstanding. Dr. Chretien takes you through understanding myofascial pain which is a key factor in all types of pain.

[easyazon_infoblock align=”none” cart=”y” identifier=”0936070463″ key=”image” locale=”US” nw=”y” tag=”stoplbp22-20″]
[easyazon_infoblock align=”none” cart=”y” identifier=”B01N6Q1ZM0″ key=”image” locale=”US” nw=”y” tag=”stoplbp22-20″]
[easyazon_infoblock align=”none” cart=”y” identifier=”B07681PPZ6″ key=”image” locale=”US” nw=”y” tag=”stoplbp22-20″]

I added the recommended reading above in the hope that you continue on the path and make movement priority one everyday. Moreover, please share this with friends and loved ones who live with pain. Friendly love and support is sometimes the second best medicine … second only to laughter 🙂