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Stretches for Back Pain

post #1 of 25
Thread Starter 
I have cronic (sp) pain and discomfort in my lumbar and mid to upper thoracic areas of my back. I have tried the DIY twist your back til it cracks technique, but this provides only temporary relief. Does anybody know of any stretches and or exercises that I should do to aleveiate this pain. Most of this pain comes while sitting, in an ergo-chair mind you.
post #2 of 25
Hi! There are a bunch of things you can do. A few times a day, stand behind your desk. Place both hands on top, then step back until your back is completely flat. Hold that for about 30 seconds, then drop on arm. Hold for another 30 seconds, then stwitch arms.
post #3 of 25
Back pain many times comes from something other than the back. It can be driven from the bottom up (the legs) or from the top down (shoulders and neck).

Look at the position of your spine all day. Are you positioned like a human shrimp? This posture will cause many changes in our body.

Without being able to see you and what you move (as an assessment) I can offer you one of my favorites to mobilize the spine, one vertebrea at a time.

You can actually stay in the seated position. Sit up nice and tall, with your hands positioned behind your head (as if you were about to do a crunch). Now rotate to your right as far as you can, once you reach the end of your range, hold that position and NOW SIDEBEND to the RIGHT at the same time. HOLD that for 5-10 seconds, then release the sidebend, but you are still rotated to the right. Now rotate to the right even more, then repeat the side bend. Repeat this whole process 3-4 times and then do the same thing to the left.

This works great for a spine that may be a little "stuck." There is also a bunch of flexibility you could do for the lower body to help "clean out" and sticky issues. Hope this helps. Good luck!
post #4 of 25
SkiStarr90...

To follow up on Lisamarie's and SNOtrainer's advice...

The kind of back pain that you describe is usually the result of multiple causes (along with restricted motion/ lack of flexibility), especially when it involves more than one location in your back.

The discomfort you're feeling is likely due to "muscular imbalance," which is a more complex problem than just a lack of flexibility. The imbalance can occur two different ways:

1. Tight muscles... this literally means the muscle's resting length (its actual structure) is shorter than it normally should be, and does not lengthen sufficiently to properly support joint position and healthy biomechanics.

2. Weak muscles... (commonly called "tight" as well) In this form of tightness, there may be decreased range of motion and a sensation of "tightness," BUT... the contributing factor isn't structural or mechanical... it's neurological. This means the muscle could lengthen to a fuller range of motion, but is not being allowed to by the nerve system. This kind of tightness may be a protective mechanism by the nervous system, and the muscles in question may actually be long relative to their normal resting length.

The theory that ties these two different muscular circumstances together is something called "reciprocal inhibition," which is a fancy way of saying this:

Muscular imbalance leads to some muscles becoming short and overactive, and "opposite" (i.e., reciprocal) muscles become long and underactive. The short, overactive muscles become structurally tight (lose their normal length over time) as a result of repetitive stress, sedentary lifestyle, trauma, etc. The long, underactive muscles become weak over time as a result, and cannot shorten appropriately.

The reason the long muscles cannot shorten is because the nerve system will only contract one group of antagonist muscles at a time, and relax the other group. For example, when you contract your biceps, your triceps automatically relaxes because of "reciprocal inhibition" from the contracting biceps.


The first step toward correcting what you have would be to follow the advice that's given so far with stretching and increasing the ranges of motion in your back movements. But it's imperative to build strength and endurance in the muscle tissues along with flexibility. If flexibility is the main treatment, and strengthening is not included, the flexibility you'll achieve will only be temporary... even if you stretch every day. Doing both stretching and strengthening together (after initial stretching only) will help ensure that you don't overstretch the longer underactive muscles and cause more instability.

The best thing to do is to consult professional help for this. A sports medicine or rehab expert is probably the best for your set of circumstances. (Don't go to a chiropractor to have this treated... they aren't trained to evaluate and manage this. But do go to a chiropractor to get your spine adjusted if you want to get the best results during your way back to strength and stability.)

If consulting a professional isn't feasible or possible for you, then start availing yourself of information, exercises, and stretches to help yourself. At your age, it's unlikely that a combination of stretching and exercise is going to hurt you.


Quote:
Originally Posted by SkiStarr90 View Post
I have tried the DIY twist your back til it cracks technique, but this provides only temporary relief.
Yup.

The reason is that you're missing the imbalances (that actually need adjusting) by doing it this way.

People who crack their own back or neck don't usually hurt themselves when they do it... but they cause more imbalance and more instability by trying to adjust themselves.

I'm a chiropractor, and there is no way I can give a competent adjustment to myself, never mind analyze my own spine properly. I'd only end up making things worse. That's why I bring my spine to a chiropractor I trust, and let her take care of it.

When you twist or stretch a region of your spine in an attempt to "pop" it, the first thing that will pop is a freely movable joint... meaning, the one that isn't subluxated. Repetitive popping of the freely movable joints over time leads to the same circumstance as above... the subluxated/restricted joints stay stuck and get worse, and the once-healthy joints surrounding it become "loose" and unstable. The instability causes discomfort, and you constantly feel the need to keep cracking your back. The whole thing sets the stage for chronic back and neck problems as you grow older.

Hope this helps.
post #5 of 25
You are 16, you should NOT be having constant back pains at that age. Is there a reason for them? Injury you haven't mentioned? I'd get to my physician and see if there is a reason for the pain first.
post #6 of 25
agree w/skier J.

go to a dr. first. if s/he gives you the ok, then sign up for a pilates course.

all the professional dancers i know swear by it, as do the people i know with both chronic and acute back issues who do it. it will deal with your alignment and core and flexibility and such as written above.
post #7 of 25
Excellent advice from everybody, especially getting a diagnose. I'm always a bit hesitant to give pain relief advice until I know what is really going on. Once you find out, anouther thing you can do is lie down on a soft tennis ball. You can either put it beween your shoulder blades, or to one side of your back. They actually have special balls for that called body rolling balls.

A foam roller will also work, but again, you first need to find out if there is any serious type of injury or condition.
post #8 of 25
Baja,

GREAT explanation on the neuromuscular system! If only more chiropractors were as informed as you are about connecting the various systems of the body (nervous, muscular, and spinal).

Paying attention to just one of the above systems will yield temporary or partial relief. You must address them all to get to the root cause of the problem.

Well done
post #9 of 25
subluxated, in lay terms means?
post #10 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by BillA View Post
subluxated, in lay terms means?

A subluxation is an imbalanced joint in the skeletal system, causing improper (usually restricted) motion. Literally translated, "sub-luxation" means "less than a partial dislocation."

The term can also refer to a medical condition where the eye's lens shifts out of place. (Subluxatio lentis)


A spinal subluxation has the potential for more drastic effects than a subluxation out in the periphery of the skeleton, due to the complex and delicate anatomy in and around the spine... nerve tissue (especially the spinal cord itself), blood vessels, small para-spinal muscles, joint capsules, discs, cerebro-spinal fluid, etc.
post #11 of 25
Thanks.
post #12 of 25
Quote:
The theory that ties these two different muscular circumstances together is something called "reciprocal inhibition," which is a fancy way of saying this:

Muscular imbalance leads to some muscles becoming short and overactive, and "opposite" (i.e., reciprocal) muscles become long and underactive. The short, overactive muscles become structurally tight (lose their normal length over time) as a result of repetitive stress, sedentary lifestyle, trauma, etc. The long, underactive muscles become weak over time as a result, and cannot shorten appropriately.

The reason the long muscles cannot shorten is because the nerve system will only contract one group of antagonist muscles at a time, and relax the other group. For example, when you contract your biceps, your triceps automatically relaxes because of "reciprocal inhibition" from the contracting biceps.
Thank you for bringing up reciprocal inhibition. This is more important for skiers than you might imagine. For example, many people have overly tight hip flexors, which leads to weak glutes. Since glute strength has recently been considered as an imporatnt way to prevent injuries, it behooves serious skiers to correct this muscular imabalnce.
post #13 of 25
I am a body sculptor (builder) for about 15 yrs. My pinnacle has been 220lbs @ about 5% body fat and just under 5 ' 11". I also have back problems as well as knee and shoulder problems. with regards to my back I have several diagnosed bulges and I suspect that I may have herniated disks now as well; at times I am layed up for weeks. From time to time I take a few months off from weight training, and basically shrink down to mortal size. Contrary to what one might expect it is in these months that I do not work out that I have pains in all said regions. By strengthening the body the pains go away, the body supports itself with the strength acheived, its that simple. It has been shown that that not only do muscles grow and become strong with weight training, so do the connective tissue and actual bone. So hit the gym, get a certified trainer if you must, once you get past the soreness you will feel much much better, this I can gaurantee.
post #14 of 25
Go to an MD and get diagnostics - X-Ray, MRI. Take these records to an Osteopath or a Chiropractor and they should be able to help you.

Further, My father, who's 70, has a messed up back with sciatic pain that's a result of a car wreck in the 60's. He gets relief from Chiropractic adjustments and acupuncture. If he diligently does his Hatha Yoga stretches, then he doesn't need to see any doctors. Iyengar style Hatha Yoga is very theraputic and definitley helps with pain management and in many cases can bring about a full healing.

Good luck!
post #15 of 25
SkiStarr90,

Please see a doctor to rule out other things. I had similar pains for quite awhile. I was seen by a chiropractor for the back pain and had discussed it with my Medical Doc. We did not figure it out. Found out that it was caused by gallstones when I finally passed one of them. (Not a good thing.) It got stuck. I ended up with severe pancreatitis from it. Major surgery a year ago. I'm still recovering. You don't want to go through this believe me. (I'm not blaming anyone for this, it is something that happens to some people.)

While it most likely is not gallstones it is easy to rule out with an ultrasound or a CT scan. If it is, gall badder removal is simple and is done nowdays in same day surgery. (Unlike what was done 20 years ago.) My sister had it done and was back to normal in less than a week.
post #16 of 25
Thread Starter 
Other than various sports related jostlings (7 years of ice hockey, falling while skiing....) nothing, although my family has a history of these things. The stretches seem to have helped today, so we'll see.
post #17 of 25

Saw a post from Bob Peters a few days ago...

 
Originally Posted by Bob Peters View Post
 

It's hard to believe, but a year ago today BushwackerinPA visited Jackson Hole with a couple of his buddies and we had some seriously fun skiing.  Here's a trip report I did back then.

 

So, this year's April Fool's Day comes along with semi-sunny skies and a snow report of 13" of new snow.  I've been off skis for two weeks (sucks to be me) because of raging back pain, but I finally couldn't stand being off skis any longer.  An offer to go along on an early tram ride this morning was all it took to push me over the edge.
...

By 10:30am, I was basically skiing only on my right ski (it's my left back and leg that are bothering me), so I decided to be conservative about things and quit for the day.  It was definitely worth it, though.

 

Recently I have had some issues with left lower back pain, and also some sciatica-like symptoms in my left leg. Not bad enough to keep me off the slopes or otherwise immobilized, but annoying and somewhat uncomfortable. I had an experience this morning which I thought might be of interest to others, so figured I'd write it up, FWIW.

 

Like a lot of guys who are active/athletic my hamstrings tend to be somewhat tight, and during ski season this seems to be magnified a bit - for example without working at it (which I tend not to do) I get a little further away from being able to bend over and touch my toes. While out having coffee this morning I was sitting in a booth where I could stretch out with my legs extended in front of me, kind of like sitting on the floor with my back against the wall. I could not sit with my back flattened against the back of the booth, and my legs extended, completely flattened against the seat of the booth, but over the course of 45 minutes while having coffee and reading the paper I worked toward that.

 

Keeping my back mostly flat against the back of the booth I alternated one leg at a time, trying to flatten it out completely in front of me, pushing and holding against the resistance point a few seconds at a time. One leg, then the other, and occasionally I would stretch both legs out in front, bent, till I reached the resistance point, and then gently push them both and hold for a bit. I did this kind of as a background task, not in any kind of intensely focused way as you might say in a yoga class. By the time I walked out I felt completely different than when I walked in - the mild, ever-present background discomfort that I had been feeling had pretty much dissipated, and my movement felt much lighter and unencumbered. It felt f'n great!

 

Rome wasn't built, or destroyed, in a day, so even though my inclination is to keep pouring on a lot of this newly (re)discovered good thing I'm going to try and not over-do that. However I am going to try and incorporate some of that stretching described above into my daily routine, and also start sprinkling in some sun salutations and other yoga moves to improve my overall flexibility.

 

I said (re)discovered above, as like a lot of folks who've been on the planet for a while I tend to learn and forget things over time. This back/leg thing is not chronic, but I have been through a similar situation before where skiing-induced muscular imbalance contributed to problems of this sort, so if you're reading perhaps this will help in some way.

 

A votre sante!   ;-)

post #18 of 25
First, I agree that you should be seen by someone to rule something else out. I lived for years with chronic back pain and the military's answer was chronic pain medication. When I retired I went to a chiropractor for the first time. In three weeks I was pain and pain medicine free.

I'm now 55 and have been seeing the same chiro once a month (or so) for 16 years. I started yoga last June and my back has never been better. Now I see the chiro once every three months. I wish when I was your age, someone convinced me to do yoga and I was smart enough to listen. There is a whole painful part of my life I could have avoided.

Ken
Edited by L&AirC - 7/22/15 at 3:29am
post #19 of 25

Looks like an old thread with some updates, so figured I'd add on:

 

Most important: If you have back pain, your primary source for help should be a health care professional, not the internet.

 

In conjunction with that, I suspect you (and others who have low back pain) may find this article of mine with accompanying exercise recommendations helpful: http://elsbethvaino.com/2011/05/6-exercises-for-low-back-health/

post #20 of 25

done some yoga but to it, not really my thing

but i feel its a great form of exercise

i however do a lot of stretching regularly

post #21 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by evaino View Post
 

Looks like an old thread with some updates, so figured I'd add on:

 

Most important: If you have _______________, your primary source for help should be a ______________ professional, not the internet.

 

 

FIFY but then what would we do all day at work? Work?

post #22 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by oldgoat View Post
 

FIFY but then what would we do all day at work? Work?

 

Good point. On both counts. :)

post #23 of 25

Any of the books by the physical therapist, Robin McKenzie are great:

 

http://www.amazon.com/Robin-McKenzie/e/B001H6N148/ref=dp_byline_cont_book_1

post #24 of 25

I just want to add more of my "opinion" on this.  Across the last couple years I have made some hard changes in my life with regards to health.  I have over 50 years of unlearning to do.  The unlearning is the bad habits and poor choices I usually make with regards to health (food choices, proper amount/type of exercise, working 12-13 hour days at a desk, etc).  Along the last couple years several things have made my life different. 

 

In no particular order:

 

Yoga - it helps in more ways than you might think.  I'll never wear lululemons or grow a pony tail and I don't care about prayer bowls or drumming, but my body is a better place and partly do to yoga.  Helps with my skiing a ton too.

 

Massage - find a good one and always use the same therapist.  I had knots in my shoulders and neck for years.  So long that I didn't know that it wasn't normal until the therapist started making them go away.  It's been six months and though there are still some there, the difference is amazing.  It would help if I didn't have the job that I do as it is a stress monger, but I'm driving them way and have found ways to control them.  A monthly massage really helps for this.  Be prepared that you might need to take motrin or something for the next day or too.  I'm not talking about spa treatment either.  I mean serious massage by someone wanting to make you better.

 

Meditating - I read the book "Full Catastrophe Living".  I always thought it was crap.  I don't think that anymore and meditate everyday.  I'm not good at it but it helps a lot.

 

Work at being healthier.  I also read the book "Younger Next Year".  Puts things in place so you can understand it all and now I know why certain things effect my body certain ways.  I find it much easier to make better choices and lifestyle changes now that I have a better understanding of why.  Thanks to Josh and SkiMangoJazz for recommending it.

 

Too busy to read.  Try audio books.  I usually listen on my way to work or while doing my chores around the house.  The books above and a few others I have listened to a few times and I really enjoy it.  I would have never gotten through the books otherwise.

 

Come to an understanding that with things like chronic back pain, you probably aren't going to get it to leave for ever.  Mine is always on the cusp of coming back.  If I follow my routine religiously - no pain.  If I start slacking, I start seeing/feeling the signs of it coming back and need to get back on track.  I've also found it is easier to keep up than catch up.  

 

I went years just sucking up the back pain and knowing certain things were going to make it hurt.  Now I rarely have it and I don't use medicine to control it.

 

Ken

post #25 of 25

I've been working my way through The Death of Ivan Ilyich and Other Stories by Tolstoy recently. Even though you've already had your epiphany if you haven't read that (recently) might be worth adding to your list.

 

A votre sante.    ;-)


Edited by jc-ski - 7/22/15 at 10:34am
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