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Tuesday
Jul092013

DEEP ROOTS AND STRONG HEARTWOOD, PART II OF LOW BACK CARE

In part one of this blog you learned that the body’s reaction to joint pain may cause more injury leading to a chronic pain lifestyle.  You learned how to move back into alignment and how to cool the fire of inflammation.  In this part you will learn about the relationship of the core (or “heartwood”) to the peripheral body; and how to rebalance the two. 
Triple Aspen Sangres

REHAB PRINCIPLE IV:  Voluntary muscles get tight and core muscles get weak.
This is the biggest thing causing injury and making it worse.  Core muscles are the small, short muscles close to the spine.  They are subconsciously controlled.  They hold the joints straight while the large voluntary muscles do the moving.  When a person over does, gets fatigued, gets stressed, or experiences pain, the limbs become super tight and the spine (core) gets very weak, and won’t stay straight. 
 
The only way to turn the core muscles on is by making them conscious.  You need them to be able to hold an isometric contraction indefinitely.  The following is a core exercise I teach in my clinic.  First lay on your back with knees bent and use your fingertips to monitor the deepest layer of the abdominal wall.  The TVA (transversus abdominis) muscle should gently tense the belly wall like a drum skin by pulling the belly button to the spine, holding the abdomen flat at all times.  Look for the weakest belt of the abdomen in front of your painful spinal level.  Learn to hold this muscle in contraction while simultaneously contracting the pelvic floor (Kegel exercise).  At the same time you must relax all the large muscles. 
 
The TVA will fatigue easily at first.  When you can keep it tight, begin slow movements of your leg by raising a few inches from the floor, or move your straight arm over your head while holding this abdominal muscle tight and keeping a neutral curve in the low back.  There should be no tilting or arching of the spine or pelvis, only the hips and shoulders should move.

Stretching the limbs must always be accomplished with a straight spine.  Anything with the head and back on the floor is safe, but avoid twisting the spine.  Walking and bicycling can also be very helpful to restore normal movement. 
 
REHAB PRICIPLE NUMBER V: A skilled soft tissue therapist can make all the difference.
The brain definitely gets a distorted image of the body after an injury.  The distortion is often associated with a pronounced crookedness of the torso making the loss of balance quite visible.  Continued injury and chronic pain are a real danger.   
 
It is the last part of any motion that puts the most leverage against the weak spine.  Initially after my injury I was unable to reach for anything, especially on the floor, without pain. I learned to move slowly and be very aware of my balance to prevent more injury.  Expanding on what I could do with simple exercises as those described above.  Progress was very slow at first because the damaged fibers were very weak.

I was glad  to see a massage therapist soon after my injury.  She carefully evaluated me and proceeded to help my brain feel the tight areas and realign; taking stress off the weak areas.  The result was quite miraculous and my progress made a leap.  I scheduled follow-up visits. 
 
 
REHAB PRINCIPLENUMBER VI: Centralization of the human nervous system.
Human beings are very different from other animals.  We are upright on two feet so we have a huge brain primarily for balance and reactions, and secondarily for “smarts.” 
 
Louise Hay says that low back pain is always associated with feelings of being unsupported.  It is like our landing gear is pulled up and we are hovering. Stay in touch with your roots!
 Sangre Tree Colors

Whenever we are fatigued, distressed, or in pain, our nervous systems will become more centralized, which means that everything begins to run through the brain and higher levels rather than being processed as a reflex lower in the body.  This means that the head and neck get out of balance with excess tension resulting in more compression on our spines. 

In this state we get more dependent on our hands and eyes for balance, and stiffer in our limbs.  Our movements become more primitive, more mechanical.  Think of how it looks when an athlete is fatigued, in pain and giving, in a maximal effort; it is not graceful and easy.  Think of an old person straining for a handhold and depending on their eyes with no clue where their feet are.  We quite literally leave our bodies and crowd into our heads!

 
This also true of our emotional state in pain or stress; our nervous and hormonal systems go into stress response.  We become anxious and depressed as we imagine the worst.  It seems like everything is right in our face and we have no sense of support or ease. 
 

The biggest thing to realize in the acute phase is how fragile you are because of reactive patterns in the body and mind.  The best way to make low back pain a chronic problem is to lay in bed, or to ignore the pain and keep on working.  At first you must plan your movements to prevent damage.  Get help, and keep expanding on what you can do by using the simple floor exercises and walking slowly.
 
By minimizing the inflammatory response, avoiding further injury, seeing a soft tissue worker, and carefully rehabilitating your body you can restore full function.  Even when pain free it is important to take time for a few daily floor exercises to maintain your soft tissues and protect weak spots. 

 

Reader Comments (1)

Hi Scott,
It has been 2 years since I saw you in Denver, and It is only due to distance that I cannot come for treatment from Switzerland! Everything in this article is so profoundly true! I only wish I had this information when I first injured my back, instead of relying on the "system" of the non-alternative medical community which led me to have a surgery I might have avoided and all the post complications that came from it. I can only try to help others to avoid these things, and to recommend to them soft tissue balancing work, as well as yoga, and giving yourself the gift of time to heal.
Best Regards, and thanks so much for your writings! I am still on the mend, slowly! Elisabeth / Andermatt, Switzerland

July 10, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterElisabeth Nager

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