Will Stretching Cure My Back Pain?
If you’ve suffered or are suffering from back pain, then an aching back, tight muscles or even struggling to find a position that’s comfortable probably sound way too familiar. More than likely you’re also well aware how much back pain can slow you down. But why do we experience Back pain? What causes it?
Is it because our muscles are tight? Is it because we bent over incorrectly? And why does our back pain keep coming back?
All of these questions are incredibly important to ask. Let’s see if we can find some answers. When we look at the spine from the front, we want it to be straight. From the side we want our spine to be a subtle ‘S’ shape. This S curve gives us our posture when we sit or stand and helps to absorb compressive forces when we run, jump or even mis-step.
Then our bones work as anchors. On these anchors our muscles, ligaments and tendons attach. Through shortening and lengthening of these, movement and action is possible. Our bones also provide structure and protect our bodies organs.
In fact, our spine and skull protect our most vital organ, our nervous system. Our brain is protected by our skull and our spinal cord is protected by our spinal bones, called vertebrae. Protecting the spinal cord is a big and important job, and that’s why the health of your vertebrae, your spine is so important. And then exiting off the spinal cord, between the vertebrae are our nerves. Your nerves go and supply EVERYTHING, in your body, every cell tissue and organ. Thus, your vertebra need to move properly so these nerves can function well, so your body can function well.
When your spine is not working as well as it should be, there is a whole range of problems that occur. These problems can include pain, injury, stiffness, and discomfort. We call these body signals. These are ways your body is telling you that things are starting to go a little wrong. You need to listen to these body signals. If you don’t listen, or more importantly act on these signals, more than likely you will end up in a crisis. Taking time off work, stopping sport or reaching for pills, potions or lotions of some description are things we definitely want to avoid.
So, here are some ways that we can help to protect our spine.
1. Set up your desk desk ergonomically
2. Limiting the amount of time you spend sitting to 20-30 minutes at a time -set an alarm!
3. Lifting up your mobile phones to eye level when browsing
4. Avoiding repetitious one-sided postures when working or studying
5. Avoid holding weighted things on just one side.
Hot tip: If you are carrying groceries try to carry even weight on both sides. If you are carrying a child on your hip swap sides from time to time to even out the weight as much as possible.
We see lots of people come into our office with excruciating back pain, muscle aches and tension. Unfortunately, often we are their last resort. They’ve tried everything under the sun and yet their pain still isn’t going away. Medications, stretching, exercise programs, heat packs, hot baths, massage, dry needling and the list goes on.
The question begs why don’t these treatments cure most back pain problems?
Frequently, in our office, after performing a thorough consultation, examination, analysing posture and if necessary, referring for x-rays, we find that a patient’s back pain is a joint problem, not a muscle problem all along.
If a stuck joint is causing the muscle or tendon tension, aches and pains, the joint problem needs to be addressed to help solve the muscle problem. Treating the muscle without addressing the joint, is to treat the symptom without addressing the cause. The joint needs to move, become aligned and free. This will allow the muscle and its attachments to act through their full and free range of movement and they will begin to heal all on their own.
And, as an added bonus, as the joint frees up this will remove any interference to the nervous system, allowing the correct flow of nerve messages to the muscles and also to everywhere else that nerve travels too. So it makes sense why the heat packs, hot baths, massage, exercises and stretching alone didn’t work. These don’t address the stuck, jammed, out of alignment joint.
However in saying this, we still love having a holistic approach to health and recommend a variety of self-care that is healthy for the mind, body, and soul. We believe a multimodal approach is best when transforming your health. We regularly recommend stretching and mirror image exercises to our patients to assist in their recovery.
Full disclosure, stretching alone is unlikely to fix the underlying cause of your back pain or spinal problem. However, we do see it help when used in conjunction with a properly prescribed chiropractic care program. With this combination we can see incredible results.