How often are you in a seated position? Upon waking in the morning, you sit down to breakfast, you sit in your car on the way to work, you sit down at your desk, you sit down to lunch, you sit when you get back to office, you sit in your car on the way home, you sit down to dinner, you sit down on the couch to watch TV, you lay down in the fetal position as you go to sleep ? you are probably seated for at least 75% of your waking hours! Even if you frequent the local health club, you are probably seated on the recumbent bike, seated as you make your rounds on the resistance machines, and then you finish off on the ab bench ? of course, in a seated position!
To maintain that seated position all day, there are certain muscle groups that constantly need to stay activated. Without activation of these muscles, you would just be a blob on the floor. In the case of lower-back pain, our specific focus is the spinal and hip flexors. The spinal flexors include the rectus abdomonis (the six-pack muscles) and the external obliques, while the hip flexors include the muscles of the iliopsoas. Spinal flexors round the back (think of a crunching motion) while hip flexors decrease the angle between your thigh and stomach (think of lifting your leg to put your foot on a step).
When these muscles contract to hold your position, they shorten. Over time, your body adapts by telling those muscles to stay shortened. As they remain in that position for extended periods of time, the fascia, or connective tissue, surrounding those muscles can become entangled and cause impingement.
Impingement may affect blood circulation, movement, nerve passage and adhesions, and result in myofascial adhesions, a scar-like tissue that builds up in the muscle fascia. Unaddressed, this can cause limited extensibility and range of motion.
If the spinal flexors and/or the hip flexors get locked in that shortened length, this usually results in an over-lengthening and weakness in the ?opposite? muscles ? the low back, core stabilizers, and the gluteal muscles. If those muscles are weak, you can virtually guarantee that you will deal with low back pain at some point! Look around you. If you see someone with a pronounced arch in the low back (also known as an anterior pelvic tilt), there?s a good chance that they have tight hip flexors. Look again, and you may see someone who has an overly slouched posture with their shoulders rolled forward. This person most likely has tight spinal flexors (among many other muscle groups, such as the pectorals and lats) from being hunched over a computer all day. Ask them what they do for work!
So what do I do?
Five steps to Natural Back-Pain Relief
- Prepare your body
- Proper hydration and reduction of sugar and processed high-carbohydrate foods will greatly reduce inflammation and allow your body to make adjustments more rapidly.
- Release the adhesions
- Find a Licensed Massage Therapist that specializes in deep-tissue massage or trigger-point therapy.
- Foam-rolling provides a ?budget? myofascial-release option that you can do at home.
- Stretch the shortened muscles
- Stretch the hip flexors, the abdominal muscles, and while you?re at it, the quads, the pectorals, and the latissimus dorsi, or lats.
- Strengthen the weak muscles
- Strengthen the core musculature, the low back, the gluteal muscles, and while you?re at it, the hamstrings, the rhomboids, and the mid and lower trapezius.
- Make Life-Style Changes
- Whenever you can, get out of a seated position.
- When you need to be in a seated position, be mindful of your posture.
- Remember, just because you got out of pain doesn?t mean that you?ll stay out of pain. Consistency in your fitness program is key to maintaining low-back health.
If you are seeking a solution to your health and fitness needs that addresses chronic pain, poor posture, balance, and flexibility, in addition to long-term weight-management, look no further. Rook Fitness Solutions takes a holistic, straight-line approach to health and wellness by assessing foundational issues and helping individuals naturally diminish chronic pain while improving posture, functional movement and physique.
Rook Fitness Solutions