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 relief’
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.
This quote-of-the-day comes from a long-time patient and retired doctor who calls
himself ‘The Five-Toed Sloth”. He retired from doctoring due to back/hip pain and we’ve been working together for about 5 years. He is definitely a believer in the ability of movement to heal pain and is hugely grateful for that pain relief.
So ‘Five-Toe’ (what we call him for short) came in discouraged and out blurted a variation on the ‘death statement’. You’ve probably heard something along the lines of: “It doesn’t matter what I do; we are all going to die anyway”. Yes, but wouldn’t it be great if we could all live while we are still breathing?
Do you know anyone who has spent years of their lives hindered because of disease or pain? How much of this is preventable? Almost all heart disease, all Type II diabetes and approximately 50% of all cancers are preventable with healthier diet decisions. Colon cancer risk is reduced 30% with daily exercise, depression is reduced, energy is increased, pain is reduced… In fact, I’ve never seen a single study that said: “Just eat Twinkies and for heaven’s sake STOP exercising!”
But let’s get back to good ol’ “Five-Toe”. I don’t put him through a series of therapeutic exercises twice weekly in order to keep people from sadly shaking their heads at his funeral: “Too bad he died so out-of-shape.” No, we work together so he can live while he is still breathing. So that when he does pass away no one will say: “What a relief; he suffered for so long.” No, they’ll remember him for doing just what he wanted and just what he loved every day that he lived.
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 took a great class from Eric Cobb of Z-Health at the Pilates conference about a month ago about understanding the neuroscience behind pain. It was a great class and I find myself referring to one point over and over again with my clients and my staff so I thought you might be interested too. So here it is.
When there is an injury, let’s use an injured back as an example, the brain starts to create change to several systems in your body to react to that injury. Let’s focus on just the nervous system, and then just one small part of the nervous system.
There are many different types of nerve receptors but let’s talk about these two:
- Mechanoreceptors: in charge of mechanics. It is because of mechanoreceptors that that we are able to receive movement information.
- Nociceptors: in charge of sensing pain. Sensing pain is of utmost importance to survival. Nociceptors can be triggered by any stimulus that your body/brain finds noxious.
- In a normal, pain-free muscle there is a balance between mechanoreceptors and nociceptors. When pain exists, an unbalance is created.The unbalance is created because of a tendency to brace or not use an area that is painful. You tend to stop moving, and in our example the backs become stiff.
The brain senses a threat (because not moving well is a dysfunction) by erring on the side of caution, not on the side of performance, by reducing mechanoreceptors and increasing nociceptors. With more nociceptors there is more pain. So your clients that are in pain are going to generally be ‘really good’ at being in pain because there are more nociceptors. The more nociceptors, the less movement (because of increased pain). The less movement, the more the brain senses a dysfunction and creates more nociceptors. Classic vicious cycle.
So how do we stop the cycle? We have to move. If we begin moving, the brain senses the need for mechanoreceptors. If the brain is sensing more movement then that signals an end to dysfunction. And what happens with an end to dysfunction? Less nociceptors. No more pain.
Eric Cobb, made an important point about increasing movement. The activity must be active not passive. Passive movement is not something that normally happens in a Pilates environment but I thought I should throw that in there. The number of nociceptors will not change if your client is not moving her body by herself. Do not, in other words, move your clients body for her. Yes, I know, not really going to happen in Pilates unless you are working in the physical therapy sector. When your client is moving the joint, find every possible pain-free range of motion. It is not possible, in most cases, to decrease pain by increasing pain; it messes up the nociceptor balance.
Good luck and let me know how it goes!