You’ve been sitting too long and your back is aching. Go for a walk later but for now, with deadlines pending, take a few minutes (5 to be exact) and give your spine some TLC. And a happy spine is also a strong spine, so in case you need to get into something strapless soon it’s good to start with Healthy Your Way to Sexy!
Posts Tagged ‘back pain’
This post could have been titled: How to heal back pain with a back pack. And no, I’m
not talking about filling it with muscle relaxants to get you through the day. I’m talking about the work of Stuart McGill, PhD. He is a kinesiologist out of the Univeristy of Waterloo and has done extensive research on the best ways to heal back pain.
One of this methods includes wearing a back pack with 15-25 pounds in it. Sounds crazy, huh? The theory behind it is that if the weight is placed low in the back pack, it aids the spine extension muscles, so it helps to keep you upright. If you are bent over your spine muscles aren’t really working they are in a holding pattern; it is more like they are holding on for dear life to keep you from going nose-first into the dirt instead of acting to give strength and mobility to the spine.
Dr. McGill’s recommendation is that you wear the pack and walk on uneven terrain. Hiking a dirt path would be great. The small subtle changes in the terrain force your spine to accommodate forward and back, side to side twisting and side to side bending.
I had a chance to test his advice three years ago after back surgery. I stayed at about 10 pounds in a fanny back and it worked really well. I was able to go about 30% farther with the pack then without it. I had another “opportunity” to test it today. My back decided to get super-angry after mountain biking this morning and my friend and I still had a 6 mile hike planned for the afternoon. I was hurting. Big-time.
So I let my friend wrangle both dogs, I threw a lot of water bottles in the bottom of a pack and gingerly started making my way along the trail. Ow. Ouch. Holy be-geezus… But it got better. It loosened up. And I did the 6 miles. Tonight, I can feel my back. I iced and I’m getting ready to take some Aleve but it’s good. We are planning another hike tomorrow and my back pack is ready.
Core strength has been a buzzword in the fitness world for quite a while but now we
are hearing that same buzz from the medical field. Clients are being referred to a Pilates program by their medical doctors who know that increased core strength can only mean decreased physical pain. So how do you know if core strengthening is for you?
Will Core Strengthening Help YOU?
- Have you experienced muscle spasms?
- Have you suffered an injury that has affected your ability to do everyday activities?
- Do you find it difficult to maintain excellent posture?
- Is it difficult to sit for long periods of time or does doing the same prolonged activity exacerbate your symptoms?
These are just some questions that are strong indicators that core strengthening could help you. Here’s why:
- Muscle spasms happen in the large muscles, turning the small, core muscles off.
- Injuries tend to make us rely on our largest muscles because they are the strongest, again, turning the small core muscles off.
- If you can maintain excellent posture throughout the day then your core strength is intact. Excellent posture uses your core muscles all day, every day.
- If sitting still hurts, that pain indicates that your spine is collapsing while you sit; pushing bony structure onto nerves or other bony structures instead of being lifted and supported. Pain while pursuing activities indicates that you lack core endurance.
Core strengthening, while beneficial to all, is especially beneficial to anyone who has every suffered an injury. As an interesting side note, core strength is not just about the spine and the stomach muscles. Every joint has core muscles; all the smallest muscles in charge of the balance and control of the joint are the core muscles. So any injury throughout the body benefits from core strength. Cool, huh?
At Pilates Teck we are able to accept your health insurance through our partnership with Santa Clarita Valley Therapy Services, a physical therapy clinic that offers the most up-to-date and thorough care in traditional therapy as well as occupational and aquatic therapy. Need to know more? Please call us! 661.260.1609.
As far as I can tell that is the best kind of back pain to have. Lucky you!
In very broad terms, I see two
types of back pain clients: The first has increased pain when they are still, especially sitting, and the second group has increased pain when they are moving. In both scenarios great improvement can be made to pain levels but, generally, the first responds most quickly to therapeutic exercise or pilates exercise.
If you feel pain when you are sitting but feel relief when you get up and walk around the fix is pretty obvious: Move more. As a rule, even painful joints have pain-free ranges of motion. Maybe your back hurts when you do ‘X’ but you can still do ‘Y’ and ‘Z’. That’s very common, so be sure to continue to do ‘Y’ and ‘Z’. The importance of moving, moving, moving is in this short little note. Take a peek if you haven’t seen it already.
I had a frustrated client today. He said: ‘Exercise isn’t going to change the fact that I have a bone spur or how the bone spur pushes on the nerve and hurts like heck.’ I agree on Part I: Your bone spur will not be affected by exercise except that it may not get larger if your alignment is corrected. I don’t agree with Part II: That exercise won’t change the pain you feel from the bone spur pressing on a nerve. When did your pain get bad? Six months or 2 years ago? And when did you develop that bone spur? Probably long before that. If we age inactively then the muscles supporting the area around the injury (the bone spur, in this example) become weak and offer less support in a position of great compression (sitting).
Get exercising. Get stronger. Lose the pain. If you can walk without limping, take short walks that don’t flare up your back muscles and then find a few toning exercises to take care of your weak spine muscles and butt muscles.
Use the navigating tabs to the left to go to find free exercises for back pain: Look up Back Pain Series 1-8. Also, our DVD for exactly the issue of weak spines can be found under the store tab on this site. Please let me know if you have any questions!
I had two new clients today. I spent almost the entire hour with each of them working on standing up
straight. Both of them are post-rehabilitative clients that are coming to me for pain relief so there is no way of moving them forward without getting their alignment pretty close to perfect.
It is impossible to retrain any muscle if it is already too long or too short because of poor posture. For example, using the picture of a typical sway back posture to the right, the pectorals (chest muscles), the gluteals (tushie muscles) and the upper trapezius (back of the neck) are all going to be tight. And even though they are tight, they won’t be strong.
Also, using the picture can you determine which muscles are going to be over-stretched? The hip flexors (fronts of the hips), the abdominals, the lower trapezius and rhomboids (mid-back muscles) and the scalenes or the muscles at the front of the neck will all be over-stretched and saggy and weak.
So what is working to keep this woman vertical? This posture, along with other poor postures, pretty much allows one body structure to rest on top of the next without much muscular support. What happens to the muscles if you pull the alignment back where it should be? The short, tight muscles are lengthened and stretched. The over-stretched, weak muscles strengthen. In fact, the two women I worked with today had this sway back posture that we are talking about and after working on the improved alignment for just 5 minutes they both complained of muscles fatigue in their spinal muscles. Very normal. Those muscles will strengthen quickly and they won’t feel that muscle fatigue for long.
A quick word about the abs before I have to exit to wrangle a couple of dogs… In all poor postures, the abdominals are generally saggy and weak. While we have a nice bony structure towards the back of our torsos, the abdominal muscles are entirely responsible for keeping the fronts of our torsos intact (read: holding your guts in). Your tummy will be flatter with better posture because you actually made room for your organs by standing up straight. If you aren’t standing up straight, there is nothing holding your guts in.
The moral of the story? Stand up straight. When facing side to the mirror your ear should be in line with your shoulder, which is in line with the hip, which is in line with the ankle. No crazy curves with hips and spine and chin breaking that nice straight alignment. And then…. Suck in your guts. Literally.
Hey, Everyone! Just a quickie today and I don’t even have a pic so we’ll all have to tune into the same Pilates Psychic channel so you can ’see’ what I’m talking about here. I have been using this exercise for the last three weeks for:
- Hip Extensor Strength
- Quadricep eccentric contraction
- Glut med, min, endurance
- Soleus and tibialis anterior endurance
- Spine stability
- Pelvic stability
Here’s how it goes:
- Stand on the side of the reformer facing the footbar with the right leg next to the reformer. The heel of the right foot is about 4″ forward of the shoulder rest (4″ towards the footbar but on the floor).
- The left foot goes on the shoulder rest with the toes in extension and the ball and heel of the foot on the actual shoulder pad.
- With, of course, perfect alignment, press the left hip into extension.
- I give my client a six foot dowel to hold for balance. Watch for hyper-extension of the right knee and accommodations in the low back
Notes: Upon extension, if your client has little hip extension or tight hip flexors the left knee may meet the line of the right knee but may not extend beyond that point. As the left hip extends be sure that your client is not ‘dumping’ into the low back.
I’ve been giving this exercise to my low back pain clients for increasing pelvic and spine stability. I’ve also used it for a client with a hip replacement to really zero in on the hip extension process without a whole lot of extraneous ’stuff’ going on. And most recently I’ve used the exercise with a knee pathology.
If you have a variation on this that you love, let me know! I’m always looking for new things. K
I don’t usually blog about my radio show. But today is different. It touched a nerve. I had marathon runner, Suman, on the air and she was saying things I should have been saying to my patients and clients for years: It’s really hard work to get fit so just do it or don’t and stop telling me why you can’t. I don’t want to hear about how your day somehow whisks by faster than mine or that you are somehow busier than I am or that I am fit because I own a Pilates studio or genetics or whatever. Enough. If you want to feel great you will. If you don’t want to feel great you won’t.
I’ve been working with patients with chronic back pain for 10 years. I can count on one hand the number of people who have done their prescriptive exercise program at home every day, just like they were instructed. WHY??!! Pain is addictive? No one wants to work that hard? Not enough time in the day? What? I do not understand. And yes, I know what it is like to have horrible back pain. I’ve had it most of my life and finally had surgery two years ago. I also kayaked the Channel Islands on my 40th birthday and I am the celebrity dancer in our local version of ‘Dancing with the Stars’. All to tell say that it is possible to have back pain and to work hard to be extremely functional and able to do what you love to do.
But yes, it IS really hard work to be fit. And it’s even harder to stop being in so much pain. You are going to have to spend an hour a day to change the way you have been living. If you don’t have an hour then you will be old before your time and exhausted all the way there. Not being fit will make you tired, but being in pain is completely exhausting. You enjoy that? I mean, c’mon, really? You’d rather be slugging your butt around because you are out of shape? Immobile because you are in pain? Need to scare yourself straight? Go visit a nursing home. Scary stuff that. Fifty percent of the problems at a nursing home are out of our control but the other 50% would have been solved with lifelong good health habits (and probably more than 50%).
I attended a 9am meeting yesterday. I already had the dogs out for a 2 mile walk and I did my 30 minutes of exercise for keeping my own back pain in check. At the meeting, I would say half of the attendees had had similar mornings. The other half ‘didn’t have time’ in the morning and won’t have time later, either. Really? How is it that so many people are capable of fitting it all in but then there is the flip side of that: so many people can’t. You have no choice but to get your act together if you want to feel better. I really believe that feeling good is a habit you need to hone if feeling good is really what you want.
Is it worth it? That’s your call. I, and a thousand other fitness/health experts, can give you the tools but the hard, hard work is all your.