Category Archives: back pain

Guess what: you practice pain!!!

Its the same with anything, the more you practice, the better you become: perfect practice makes perfect performance.

But, this great secret of super performers (practice, practice, practice,) is the same for those with chronic pain. The better you get at sending pain messages, the more it hurts.

This is great if you are  a masochist, but sucks  a bit  for the rest of us.

“Simply put, pain that persists can become chronic because your neurons become more efficient at transmitting pain signals. The strengthening of connections between neurons through repeated use is called Long Term Potentiation, (LTP).

Dr. Darnall said “The results also underscore the importance of non-pharmacologic psycho-behavioral treatments for chronic pain and also for anxiety,” she added. “When people learn skills to decrease the physiological markers of anxiety or stress, they are simultaneously treating pain.”

Anxiety amplifies pain, so it seems there is  a lot in that tree hugging hippy crap of relaxing and thinking happy thoughts: certainly being negative and depressed does not help your pain

Read another review here

Sit on your Ischial Tuberosities

When sitting, you can sit on your  Coccyx, or your Ischial Tuberosities. After all, it’s your ass!

sit on you ischial tuberosities

BUT…..sitting on your coccyx  ( right picture above: Boo. Bad) is the same as bending over badly and slumping (bad): the abdomen protrudes (bad) , the chest sinks ( bad), and breathing is inhibited. (cannot be good) It also indicates  fatigue (yawn) , and lack of support (Boo). In this position you can  try and make the client  (or yourself) sit up, but it will only last a short time before slumping back (sob) into your Backaholic patterns

Sitting on your Ischial Tuberosities ( a good place to sit, on the left above) , causes a more upright position (good), which elongates the spine (good)  and reduces excessive curvature (good; high five) .  Maintaining  this natural spine is easier as it is seen as a natural position (good. Fist bump). Each minute of wrong sitting can be compared to doing  the wrong exercise. if you sit poorly for 8 hours a day, thats a lot of bad exercise.  you are not a runner or a body builder or a crossfitter, you are a “bad back maker”

Of course, you should never sit  for that long, but if you must sit, sit on your Ischial Tuberosities!!

To get into correct “sit”, once you have sat down, lean to one side (imagine you are  trying to break wind!)  and gently lift your “lifted” buttock up with your hand,  scoop it back then sit down, then do the other side.

This said, you still  have  to fight your slumping habit. You must learn to sit tall and relaxed, but with an appropriate amount of abdominal tone. Say No to being a Backaholic!!

The shoulder bridge: gluteal engagement

Lie on the floor with your knees flexed (feet on the floor) and stick your fingers into the meat of your ass.

Squeeze your ass cheeks together as your method of engaging them  and not by trying to over extend your hips or play with your pelvis; keep that neutral.

Once that is mastered,  bridge the torso off the floor. At this stage, you , a friend or your trainer needs to feel your hamstrings. People who are “hamstring dominant and gluteal deficient will engage the hamstrings prior to moving” (McGill: page 195 Ultimate back Fitness).

This is the wrong pattern. The glutes should drive this action. To help  we can put our foot against your toes, and whilst asking you to squeeze your ass, we  can help your quads engage by lightly cueing from the knees ( so either a finger hook under the knee to gently pull them up, or if you know each other, a quad stroke ( to encourage the hamstrings to switch off) ).

Once you get  your  ass  engaging, “Boom” your back gets  a bit more resilient  and your squat gets better!

shoulder bridge

Help your back find its way: tape it up!

If you struggle to maintain  a neutral spine when deadlifting or squatting, or sitting for that matter, a “bit of gaffer tape” either side of your lumbar spine can give some very useful feedback. Set your neutral back, and get someone to stick tape either side of your spine ( the boney bit in the middle): when you stoop it pulls, and reminds you to maintain a better back position (  but don’t tape into a hyper- lordotic position!!)

backtape1

Obvious point, but make sure you are not allergic to the tape you are going to use! This can really help you save your back and cut down your  pack pain. Essentially it tells the body where your back is. Often back pain sufferer’s have no idea what their back is doing.

Handstands for scoliosis and back pain

I have a belief that handstands have a  role is developing the Core and aiding spinal mechanics. However, Im sure this has not been studied in any depth. The aim of this review is simply to collect enough evidence from easily accessible sources  to justify experimenting with my clients.

Whilst Im not sure about many of her recommendations, it was interesting to note that Sarah Key recommends the handstand for her scoliosis patients.

“the best specific strengthening exercise is handstands….. being upside down it literally tricks both sides of the para-spinal muscles into working equally hard in keeping you upright and balanced”

According to site that sells inversion tables, “In mild cases of Scoliosis, research and clinical studies have shown that inversion tables and regular exercise can have a positive effect on treating the physical defect. Unfortunately, inversion therapy has not been shown to effectively treat Scoliosis in severe cases”

BTW, I’m not validating passively hanging upside down. The benefit of  a handstand is that your body needs to be the tightest its ever been.

The “Mindbodygreen” blog by Heidi Kristoffer discusses that handstands can heal, but to avoid headstands! I must admit, I’ve never been a headstand fan!

Whilst this is far from anything resembling science, hanging people upside down , making them handstand, seems  not to kill people, so it may be worth experimenting with,  as long as  a proper posture ( neutral spine) is maintained. .

I’m assuming that I’ll develop the handstand from a good plank position, then walk it slowly up the wall!

I should say, I think that handstands will help IF people have adequate shoulder flexibility: hanging in an awful arch could do harm

Be careful of your deadlift form: why sport science reports can mislead you

Much of the development of human movement comes from coaches comparing techinques. Better coaches hang out with other coaches, go on their courses, read their blogs, learn, analyse, video, and humbly put stuff up for criticism.  Many sport science papers purport to do the same thing. However, the only value of  a report of an experiment is, if you can reproduce the experiment yourself.

Do you remember those basic physics and chemistry experiments we did at school? We followed the exact doses, mixed , shook, heated and retreated to a safe distance. The instructions told us, how much, in what container , in what proportion. to what temperature.

This often isn’t the case in sport science journals. Sport scientists  casually say they are testing the efficacy of , say,  the deadlift and squat but often fail to explain what they mean. This frequently means back specialists often prescribe or ban  movements where there is no correct understanding about what the movement is and how to perform it. I often see clients who have been banned from performing movements they do well and perfectly, and being set drills and movements, which, clearly, the  instructor had not the faintest idea of the correct form or the correct mechanics .

The picture here is from a leading book on back issues and is supposed to be the correct form of the deadlift. It is, unfortunately not brilliant, (probably for all the best reasons), but, if you  deadlifted in this way, you would , eventually, overload your back ( as always, poor form needs to be mixed with  repetition and  escalating load weight  to be truly nasty).

This is not an attack on sport scientists ( I do that elsewhere). After all,  all research is useful , it is a plea to look for the instructions or method in the report you are reading. Can you reproduce what they did? If not, treat the information with caution.

We will post later the correct way to deadlift.