Ever had drop to your knee’s low back pain? Can’t stand up straight? Pain first thing in the morning? Pain getting into and out of the car? Pain when you sit up or sit down? Can’t bend forward to tie your shoes early in the morning?
These are all really common signs associated with flexion intolerant low back pain – it’s a completely normal and treatable condition that many of us will experience at least once in our lifetimes.
It actually is a microinjury to the discs in our spine – the outer layers of the disc get aggravated by repeatedly bending forward and rotating – after years we irritate these outer layers and one day – BANG! You’re a hot mess and can’t move.
The good news – there is treatment for you, and it doesn’t have to involve surgery or long extended trips to the chiro or PT!
The best treatment is EDUCATION - helping you to understand what caused the injury, how you are provoking it, how you can make it better, and what treatments can help to speed that process along.
This is patient centered health care – its focused on YOU helping yourself improve, without relying on other people (doctors, physical therapists, chiropractors) to constantly “fix you” or put you “back in alignment”.
Let’s think about how this type of pain starts – basically, it starts because we sit all day long. We round (flex) through our low back and put stress on the posterior portion of the disc. Then, we forget how to hinge at the hips and squat and deadlift – we use our low backs to bend over and rotate, further increasing the stress on the spine and discs.
Then, one morning we bend over to brush our teeth, or pick up a pencil and BOOM – to the floor you go. It wasn’t that “one bend” – it was a pattern of bad movement. But you can get out of pain and heal without surgery.
Sciatica – or pain going down the back of the leg is also incredible common for these conditions. Its 100% treatable once you understand the cause, stop the movements that provoke the symptoms, and start moving better.
Many people often seek medical advice when they have this type of low back pain – they commonly see the medical doctors – who honestly don’t have a ton of training in musculoskeletal pain and injuries.
Your MD means well, but they don’t know how best to help – so they give prescriptions for pain meds and muscle relaxers, and maybe some general advice such as stretch and strengthen. This is well intended, but it’s probably bad generic advice.
Additionally, somewhere we got the idea that stretching our hamstrings was a good idea – typically stretching provides short term relief (we stimulate stretch receptors in our muscles, that gives us a temporary feeling of relief, which then ramps back up by INCREASED pain after the stretch response goes away…we make ourselves worse by stretching).
Now think of what we are creating with those movements – flexion of the low back, stretching, and basically we’re provoking the mechanism of injury. We’re making out problems WORSE with most of our “favorite” ab exercises.
Also – look at the images above/below of what we’re doing with constant sitting posture – we get super long and tight in our back muscles because they’re constantly stretched. By contrast, we get short and tight in our hip flexors in the front of our hips because we sit all day long.
One of the hip flexors attaches to the front of the lumbar spine (low back) – when its tight it adds anterior compressive forces to the low back, and increases tension. Then we do our favorite ab exercises – leg raises, knee to chest, back extensions, v-ups – basically all of these exercises INCREASE the load on hip flexors – which makes our low back pain WORSE!
We need better advice, and a better way to treat low back pain.
A huge issue for our aging population is weakness and disabilities associated with falling – we need to be stronger in our hips – squats, deadlifts, lunges – these are movements that we use EVERYDAY! And we need these muscles if we want to enjoy our quality of life when we are able to retire.
When searching for someone to help you with low back pain – find someone that understands your injury, they will educate you on what is hurting and helping your condition, and can use many different “tools” to help you get out of pain more quickly.
Avoid those individuals that require you to come in for extended treatment plans, or only have one solution to fix your issue. You may require several visits to get out of pain – but the plan should incorporate active care – ie. education, soft tissue work, mobilizations, and exercise – instead of only relying on “what they can do for you” – you need to be empowered to help yourself.
Finally, they can help you design a program that will strengthen your weaknesses to help you prevent future injuries and live a better quality of life. To get out of pain and on the path to recovery today – give our office a call at 319.892.3363 to schedule a consultation today.
Back in Line BLOG
Drs. Nate, CJ, and Hannah will take turns sharing information they stumble across from certain research, publications, or may just post a quick healthy tidbit to keep you motivated to leading a happier, healthier lifestyle!