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The 2 causes of YOUR back pain.
As with most joint or bio-mechanical issues, back pain is typically caused by either not enough movement in the form of a subluxation (damaged joint with scar tissue, restricted motion and alignment problems) or too much movement (usually a compensation for decreased movement elsewhere that will end up as a subluxation if bio-mechanics don’t change).
Chiropractors locate and correct subluxations (movement deficiencies at joints in the spine) through adjusting. An adjustment is a small movement done quickly in a specific line of drive at a specific joint usually by hand to increase range of motion while relieving pain, stress and many of the symptoms associated with stress. However, sometimes this adjusting isn’t enough; this is the case when muscles have been chronically shorted due to improper or repetitive use (hours sitting in chairs/driving/studying/computer use…ect). If this is you, no matter how much adjusting or realigning of your spinal joints is done by your chiropractor, you will still have pain. It will probably be less often and less frequent, but it will still nag and flare up on you until you restore proper length and strength to your muscular system.
A classic example of this is muscular interference in joint range of motion (ROM) is shortened hamstrings and Low or Mid Back Pain. Believe it or not, you are supposed to be able to bend over and touch your toes (yes, bending your knee is cheating). If you cannot perform this movement, it is simple, your hamstrings are too short. However, if you can touch your toes, it’s not simple because this alone doesn’t tell us if you have the proper length to your hamstrings and that is because of the principles discussed above, not enough movement or having too much. You see, there are two things required to toes your toes, flexible hamstrings and a flexible spine, but often your spine will become too flexible (hypermobile) as a result of shortened hamstrings. This situation still allows you to touch your toes, but at the expense of your lower or mid-back. Your body is comprised of many moveable parts like an assembly team, each required do their job, and when one member doesn’t, you result in overworking another team member. If that happens frequently or for too long, the overworked members get cranky.
Most people who can touch their toes do so from over extending (really flexing) their low and mid back, and creating problems now or down the road. One of them being, your spinal adjustments won’t hold as well. To correct this is simple, lengthen your hamstrings. The easiest way to do this is like the picture below:
Easiest and Best Hamstring Lengthen-er
- Assume good posture behind any standard office chair.
- While keeping your abs tight, and spine very straight, hinge and flex at the hips, sticking your but way out and placing most of your weight on your heels.
- Continue to lower yourself down at your hip joint, until you feel it in the back of your legs (hamstrings and calves), and place your hands lightly on the back of the chair.
- To find the right depth continue lowering until it becomes fairly unpleasant, but not permanent pain, meaning when you stand back up, you should not feel any pain (don’t tear stuff!!)
- You should feel no stretch and no pain in your lower/mid back, only in your legs.
- Hold this stretch for 30 seconds, then take up slack (lower down additional 1-2inches, keeping spine straight)
- Hold for another 30 seconds and take up slack one more time, and you’re done!
- This should total 1 solid minute of stretching and be repeated 3-5x/day 5 days/wk.
This will DECREASE PAIN, change the way your spine moves, and help most all of you feel better. While you should notice a slight difference immediatly afterward, THIS TAKES TIME to achieve permanently longer hamstrings. For those of you who are getting adjusted, AWESOME! you will get even more out of it because you will be helping to hold your adjustments better and longer = less pain and better function!
3-5 min / day of hamstring lengthening is POWERFUL if you are CONSISTENT!
You can do it,
Lengthen for health,
-Dr. Nick Araza DC CCWP CFL1