Back Pain Relief
Recently, a patient came into my office with an extremely painful lower back. He was unable to straighten up and had pain running down the back of his hamstring, wrapping around to the front of his leg. There is often an emotional connection to any related pain. In this particular case, the patient had just lost his father and his grief was palpable. Dealing with the grief is an important part of the healing process for this patient. On the other end, treating the physical response can be done as follows:
Trigger Point Therapy or Myofascial Therapy is a unique treatment protocol for the treatment of myofascial pain. Trigger Points produce pain locally and in a referred pattern and often accompany chronic musculoskeletal disorders. The purpose of trigger point therapy is to eliminate pain and to re-educate the muscles into pain-free habits. Treatment of trigger points involves the application of sustained pressure for a period long enough to release the muscle spasm, which is causing the pain.
The Trigger Point Therapy procedure is one of the most powerful, yet simplest ways to treat muscle pain.
Based on the idea that pain in a certain muscle group stems from where the muscle insertion is, the particular muscle group innervates and its origin, great relief can be accomplished by massaging these regions.
1. With a Tennis Ball, lay on the floor and place the tennis ball under you in the points between and under the shoulder blades. Massage the area by gently rocking over the tennis ball.
2. Move the ball around to different trigger points on your back. The trapezius muscles at the base of the neck
3. The occiput at the base of the skull
4. The dimples of the buttock, is where we hold a lot of tension that crawls all the way up the spine to the behind the shoulder blades, which in turn burn up to the base of the skull.
5. Let your body relax over the tennis ball until the tension dissolves.
6. Still lying on the floor, when the ball is under your upper back and neck, rotate the arm slowly along th floor to over your head and slowly back.
7. When the ball is under the right buttocks, with the foot flat on the floor, slowly lower the right knee to the floor on the right side. Move to ball to the left buttock and repeat the motion.
8. Use the tennis ball on each one of the 18 trigger points. Gently massage these areas.
9. This is often a painful procedure. The trick is to find your pain threshold, then pass it. Once, you stand up, you will understand how you got the amazing results.
10. Always use the breath when working with the tennis ball. Inhale deep and then exhale as you dig the ball into the trigger point.
Consider these areas:
Greater trochanter: posterior to the trochanteric prominence
Gluteal: upper outer quadrant, anterior fold of muscle
Piriformis: muscle originates at the front the sacrum, passes through the greater sciatic notch to attach to the top of the femur at its bony prominence called the greater trochanter. The gluteus maximus covers the piriformis muscle.
Exercise: The Back Strengthener
Do this exercise up to 4 times a day.
Lay on the floor, stomach down. Slowly lengthen out the spine as you raise one arm and the opposite leg. Exhale as you raise up into an arch. Hold this as your take two deep breaths. Slowly release back to the floor. Inhale, as your raise up the other arm and opposite leg, exhale. Hold this arch agian for two deep breaths. Lower down. Inhale. Then raise both arms, leaving both feet on the floor. Exhale. Hold the arch as you take two deep breaths. Slowly lower down. Inhale. Raise both feet off the ground, leaving both arms on the floor. Exhale. Hold the arch for two deep breaths. Slowly lower down. Inhale. Lastly, raise both arms and both legs off the floor. Exhale. Hold this full arch for two deep breaths. Slowly lower down. Inhale. Repeat entire sequence one more time. This exercise should flow easily with the breath. (Always feel the energy pulling out in both directions from the top of the head and hands and out the bottom of the feet.) Try to arch up further each time. This amazing exercise will relieve back pain!
Exercise: Abdominal Work
Ab work can be done on a daily basis. By strengthening the abdominal wall you are helping to support the lower back. 300, 400, 500 situps are not only a waste of time but allows for that many more attempts to injure yourself. It is the quality not the quantity of sit ups that makes all the difference. SLOW and controlled is the most powerful approach. Stretching a sore back will actually enhance the healing process. One good stretch for lower back pain is to gently bring your knees up to your chest. Once there, put a little pressure on your knees. Stretch, then relax. Repeat. Stretching will help the muscle calm down sooner than just waiting for it to calm down on its own.
Exercise: Sciatic Pain
Sciatic pain is generally the result of pressure on the sciatic nerve. When an intervertebral disc presses on the nerve root as it leaves the spine it causes pain and often numbness along the route of the nerve which travels down the buttock, down the thigh and sometimes down into the lower leg. This can result in a feeling of weakness as well. This is sometimes caused by a disc prolapsed or "slipped disc". Since sciatic pain can be the result of a disc prolapsed, it is the prolapse that we need to understand. The prolapse is most often the result of a harmful habit or pattern of bending and putting stress on the spine. A herniated disc in the back, spinal stenosis and piriformis syndrome are also medical disorders that can cause sciatica.
Stretching a sore back will actually enhance the healing process. One good stretch for lower back pain is to gently bring your knees up to your chest. Once there, put a little pressure on your knees. Stretch, then relax. Repeat. Stretching will help the muscle calm down sooner than just waiting for it to calm down on its own.
A variation on this exercise is to lay on your back and gently bring one knee up to the chest. Keep the opposite leg elongated along the floor. Keep the energy of that foot moving out through the foot. Squeeze and hold the knee to the chest. You can make small circles with the knee. Pull your abs in and slowly lower the knee. Switch sides.
Stabilizing exercises are also best for strengthening the back. The most important aspect is sensing and controlling motion in the spine. Once learned, the body can eventually take over and do this without the level of concentration it takes early on.
In a standing position, cross right ankle over left knee. Now slowly bend your standing leg. Sit back in the position so you feel a stretch in the buttocks. To increase this stretch, use one hand and gently evert your foot by simple pulling the toes toward you. Keep the foot on the knee. Make sure you sit back into the buttocks in this sitting position. Switch legs.
Laying on the floor with knees bent, arms at sides, tighten abdomen and slowly raise alternate legs 3-4 inches from the floor. With the arms, lower the opposite arm over the head.
Laying on the floor with knees bent, feet on the floor, bridge upward, slowly raising the buttocks from the floor. These should all be performed with a rigid trunk. The pelvic tilt will be used to find the most comfortable position for the low back.
This same pelvic position is maintained while performing stabilizing exercises from the prone (on the stomach) position: With elbows bent and hands under the shoulders, raise one leg 2 to 3 inches from the floor. With elbows straight and arms stretched about the head, raise an arm and the opposite leg 2 to 3 inches off the floor.
Exercise variation can be done on hands and knees, raising the arms and legs only as high as can be controlled, maintaining a stable trunk and avoiding any twisting or sagging.
Raise one leg behind with the knee slightly bent and no arch in the back or neck. Raise one leg with the opposite arm with the knee slightly bent and no arch in the back or neck.
Exercise: Piriformis Syndrome
Lay on your back and gently bring one knee up to the chest. Keep the opposite leg elongated along the floor. Keep the energy of that foot moving out through the foot. Squeeze and hold the knee to the chest. You can make small circles with the knee. Pull your abs in and slowly lower the knee. Now gently stretch the knee so that it crosses your midline and hold the knee there for 15-30 seconds. Switch sides.
Andrew Pacholyk, MS, L.Ac
Therapies for healing
mind, body, spirit
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