What causes low back pain?
If there isn’t any existing trauma or pathology, most back problems originate from years of inefficient posture. When the body is held in positions where too much tension is generated across specific joints and tissues, these areas wear down. They lose their soft, shock absorbing ability and can feel more like bone is sliding across bone. This process of tissue breakdown has been happening for a long time but in the earlier stages, people often don’t feel any discomfort. This is because the body wants to keep moving and will find another way. When someone starts to feel discomfort in their backs, the body has finally run out of compensations.
Can I decrease my lower back pain?
Although you can’t change the breakdown that has already occurred, you can prevent or lessen further breakdown. The bony areas and discs that have worn down also bring with them muscles that have either worked too hard or not hard enough as well as joints that have either moved too much or not enough. These are the areas where you can make great, positive changes.
How can Physiotherapy and Pilates help make change?
Postural re-education is most important. Learning how to stand, sit, bend and move differently will be the things that you will be working towards changing on a daily basis. They are easily integrated into your normal day and don’t take up any more time.
Addressing your breathing, your core integration, your movement awareness along with lengthening and strengthening your muscles and joints are next.
Using the 3R Method to help with lower back pain
It sounds like there are a lot of different issues to cover and that this will take time. It has taken a very long time though for your back to change and begin letting you know about its discomfort. So, addressing just a few components at a time is the way to begin. The 3R approach will work on:
releasing some tight muscles
rebuilding some weaker muscles
retraining the way you move
Making sure each of these components are addressed is very important. If you only continue to stretch the tight muscles, long lasting change will not occur. This is because you haven’t given the ‘now released’ muscles any strength to support this new relaxed state. These muscles will have no other option than to return to their previous, tight state.
Using a simple example of someone with lower back pain, I may show them how to:
release their overactive hip flexors
rebuild their gluteals (seat) muscles
retrain the way they are standing
Even though the amount of people who report experiencing lower back pain reaches staggering amounts, there are a lot of changes that can be made in the body to decrease this pain. Following a simple stretching, strengthening and retraining program will lead your body to greater flexibility, greater strength and less pain!