How many of us are suffering from low back pain (LBP) for which the cause and cure are unknown? Well, from 1975 to 2010, I was one of you. You know what I’m talking about; that constant nagging ache or even worse, that shooting pain that radiates down your leg when you sneeze or move suddenly.
Why is this?
You didn’t fall off of a two story building nor did you get hit by a raging bull because he didn’t like the red socks you were wearing.
Maybe you can blame the pain on the normal wear and tear of the body due to getting older (a.k.a. arthritis). Maybe you’re tired of “popping pain pills” in order to make it through the day. Perhaps I can offer an alternative solution – Self Myofascial Release (SMR). SMR is a self-healing/pain reduction approach to correct muscle imbalances that we all develop on a daily basis and throughout our life. A good example of this imbalance is when you drove the six hours from San Angelo to El Paso, and found it difficult to exit the car and stand up straight due to tightness in your lower back. Now imagine doing this on a regular basis – ouch!
Without getting into to the biomechanics and postural alignment of driving, let me state that the muscles used to keep you in that seated position, adapted to the shortened length/position. Now that you try to stretch them out, by standing up, they’re not too eager to abide, and slow to comply. With the onset of LBP (or any unexplained pain), check with your doctor. If there’s no onset of disease, physical/impact trauma or inherited structural defect, then you probably developed a muscle imbalance that has manifested into low back pain.
What was the primary source of my LBP, a muscle called the Piriformis. The Piriformis is a deep buttocks muscle that originates at the base of the spine (Sacrum) and travels across the buttocks to the top of the thigh bone (Femur). When this muscle gets “tight” it inhibits movement of the hip. When the hip is not free to move, and one is walking for example, the lumbar spine (low back) and/or joints of the knees must “take up the slack” for the immobile hip. This taking up the slack, over time, will lead to pain in these joints.
You know what I mean, one morning, you wake up with back pain; three days later, your knees start to ache; now you start to feel shooting pain from your hip to your groin. The first thing you think is that “I’m getting old and broken” – not so. In my field we call this a movement impairment caused by a neuro-musculo-skeletal imbalance.
SMR can help to alleviate this problem. A simple process of daily SMR with a $25 foam roll or tennis ball works wonders.
A word of CAUTION. SMR on tight tissues will be painful.
A daily dose will cause the tissues to relax, return to normal length, and diminish in pain. Also, be aware that the joints in the body work like links in a chain. If your Piriformis is tight, then it may cause other muscles to tighten in response.
Go to the following website and download this document.
Feel free to look at some of the videos on YouTube (key words: Self Myofascial Release, tennis ball therapy, theracane, foam roller, etc.). “Google” everything you can on the subject.
Still have questions, feel free to contact me if you have any questions. Garry L. Capers, M.S., CES, PES, HFS, CSCS. Exercise Physiologist for Goodfellow AFB. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Telephone (325) 654-5810Tweet